After one held closed doors friendly and one canceled closed doors friendly, we finally get to watch Chelsea play a preseason friendly as we take on Championship side AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium this evening.
And sitting in front of a screen won’t be the only way to watch either, as the stadium will be fully open (11,000+ capacity), with both home and away fans in attendance — the first such occasion at the Vitality since February 2020, nearly 18 months ago, which incidentally was also against Chelsea.
Adding to the (hopefully) party atmosphere will be a (hopefully) competitive but fun match, with fitness at the forefront but also with players looking to impress and win their places for the season ahead.
Date / Time: Tuesday, July 27, 2021, 19.45 BST; 2:45pm EDT; 12:15am IST (next day)
Venue: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England
Forecast: Cool “summer” rain, expected to stop by kick-off
On TV: none
Streaming: Chelsea official website and the 5th Stand App — it’s a free stream either way, but if previous experience is any indication, log in and start it early; they often struggle with the increased server load.
AFC Bournemouth team news: Bournemouth came close to bouncing straight back to the Premier League, finishing sixth last season but throwing away a 2-0 aggregate lead against eventual promotion playoff winners Brentford. The Cherries won the first leg, 1-0 and took the early lead in the second leg as well, before a red card to Chris Mepham changed the entire complexion of the tie and Brentford (Mepham’s previous club, after leaving the Chelsea Academy) stormed back to win 3-2 on aggregate.
Mepham’s not the only ex-Chelsea man at the club, with (still young: just 23) Dominic Solanke having a career year last season (15 goals, more than in the previous four years of his senior career combined!) and (veteran: now 34) Asmir Begović playing in a career high 51 games. Begović’s now at Everton, but Bournemouth appointed former Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker as their new head coach to restore their Blues quota.
The Championship season begins one week earlier than the Premier League season, so Bournemouth will be starting to put the final touches on their preseason prep with this game, and should provide an excellent challenge.
Chelsea team news: The cancelation of last week’s friendly in Ireland was unfortunate for all those in camp still looking to convince Tuchel of their qualities, but they get one last big chance in this one since the recent returnees from extended post-Euros vacations are not expected to feature just yet.
How realistic of a chance they may have is of course up for debate — despite Tuchel saying all the right things in that regard — but Chelsea’s (thus far) quiet transfer window should provide a few opportunities, especially for “our own” like Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Tammy Abraham (or Dujon Sterling!).
Previously: We were certainly not sad to see Bournemouth drop down considering that we had won just one of our final five Premier League matches against them. The aforementioned pre-pandemic visit was all sorts of silly as it finished 2-2, with Marcos Alonso bagging both goals.