After losing to the current 14th and 16th place teams the last two weekends, Chelsea take on 15th place AFC Bournemouth this Saturday at Stamford Bridge. One can only hope we’ve learned our lessons from those disappointments against Everton and West Ham United.
The narrative undercurrent to this match will of course involve Nathan Ake, the former Chelsea prospect who left the club 2.5 years ago for a Bournemouth-record £20m, but could now apparently be headed back for twice as much to help shore up our defense. At least that’s what the rumor mill says, wants, hopes.
Ake however will miss the game due injury, which should in theory help everyone pay greater attention to the match, and maybe even make Chelsea’s job easier.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 14, 2019, 15:00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Graham Scott — the man who was late. He subsequently refereed our 5-2 win over Wolves.
Forecast: Cold, windy, but maybe a bit sunny?
On TV: none (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 3, SuperSport 10 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); HotStar (India); DStv Now (NGA); Chelsea TV (audio commentary only — int’l)
Chelsea team news: Chelsea got back into the win column on Tuesday, but in the Premier League our form remains rather poor, with 3 losses in the last 4 games. Not beating Manchester City isn’t too much sleep to lose over, but those losses against West Ham and Everton hurt. Especially the former, especially at home. A chance to make things right then.
Antonio Rudiger came through unscathed in his long-awaited return to action against Lille, completing the full 90 and not looking drastically off pace. He migth have to do that again already, given that Fikayo Tomori continues to be out with a hip problem. Otherwise Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen will have to deputize and try to do better than they have been recently.
Despite the poor run of results, we remain five points clear of fifth place. But the schedule gets noticeably tougher during the festive period, with away games against Spurs and Arsenal coming up before the end of the year. We’ve struggled for results in “big” games (even if the performances themselves have been okay-to-good), but we had been taking care of business against the “smaller” teams. The current situation is not an improvement on that!
AFC Bournemouth team news: If there’s a team in worse form than Chelsea it’s Bournemouth, who have lost five in a row and have just one win (and six points) in their last ten league games. They haven’t won away from home since late September.
To make matters worse for Eddie Howe, he will be without Nathan Ake, his best defender, Callum Wilson, his best striker, and several others who could make useful contributions. Former Chelsea prospect Dominic Solanke should thus start — he’s still looking for his first ever goal for the club after 26 games, and is second ever Premier League goal after 45. For a man who scored as much as Tammy Abraham in the youth teams, those are shocking numbers. The football gods often have a sense of irony of course, so a Solanke game-winner at Stamford Bridge is written in some lucky star somewhere.
(Asmir Begovic, in case you’re wondering, has been farmed out to Qarabag of all places for the first-half of the season. WTF?)
With the Cherries now teetering on the edge of the relegation zone, they will be fighting tooth and nail for any and every point. They’re not expected to win, and that could always make them dangerous.
Previously: Two of the last four games we’ve played against Bournemouth are two of the worst results in the Roman Era (4-0 loss away last season, 3-0 loss at home the season before). Here’s a happier memory instead, with Pedro and Hazard scoring to continue Sarri’s good start to last season.