It’s been an eventful, momentous, exciting, promising week at Chelsea and the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal that had Maurizio Sarri pulling the pin on the hand-grenade of truth and taking at least one finger off of it feels like a million years ago.
Except it was barely ten days ago, and we haven’t actually played a league match since. So even though the wins against Spurs (HA-HA) and Sheffield Wednesday feel great, the harsh reality is that Arsenal are now level on points with Chelsea and Manchester United are just two points behind in the race for the top four.
Chelsea do have a game in hand, and it’s this one. And so it’s a must-win one, especially with Manchester City (away) coming up in another ten days.
Date / Time: Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 19:45 GMT; 2:45pm EST; 1:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Dean Court, Bournemouth, England
Referee: Roger East — only the sixth Premier League match of the season for the 53-year-old, and only the seventh Chelsea match of his career. We’ve won all six previous ones, including this exact fixture in 2015-16, by a 4-1 scoreline (Hazard brace, Willian and Pedro with one each).
Forecast: Chilly with a chance of snow
Streaming online: NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); Chelsea TV (audio commentary only — int’l); Fubo TV (affiliate link — USA only)
Bournemouth team news: The Cherries have made three signings this January in an effort to solidify their midtable position and make up for the losses of midfielder Lewis Cook and defender Simon Francis, both out for the season with ACL injuries. Defender Nathaniel Clyne has been signed on loan from Liverpool, while two former Chelsea youngsters, center back Chris Mepham (who was released as a schoolboy) and striker Dominic Solanke (who Hudson-Odoi’d his way to Liverpool 18 months ago but has failed to make his mark) also arrived on multi-million pound deals. Solanke won’t feature however due to a hamstring injury, while fellow striker Callum Wilson, who was briefly linked with Chelsea continues to be slowed by a knee injury.
The Cherries started the season very well, but have won just three games since the start of November, losing 11 of 15 in all competitions. They did win last time out, 2-0 against West Ham United, and they actually haven’t played in the ten days since as they had already been eliminated from both domestic cups.
Chelsea team news: Practically fully fit and ready to make sure the second half of the season is a success, the Blues look set to give Gonzalo Higuaín his Premier League debut and find minutes for wantaway teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi. January has been successful in clearing some of the deadwood out (Morata, Moses, Fàbregas all gone, Cahill and Drinkwater may yet follow), and last week’s cup games put some of the questions regarding the current squad’s mentality and motivation to temporary rest, but now we must build on that, and that has been a challenge ever since winter began.
“We showed we are able to react to a difficulty. Now we need to show continuity in our approach to matches, when we have to manage a match. The last two matches were very good, but now we need to show continuity.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC
Previously: Eden Hazard has 7 goals in 8 appearances against Bournemouth; his lone strike proved the winner last season.