After the utter boredom of a two-week international break, we’re back for the creeping existential dread of Chelsea football. So much promise, yet so much potential for pain! Feels like the like between brilliance and disaster is the thinnest it’s ever been, especially when combined with the ever-decreasing margins and ever-increasing parity in the Premier League.
Molding this young (and very expensive) team into a winning (and a consistently winning) team will take time, and patience, and determination, and belief, and focus. And probably a fair bit of luck as well.
Some might say you make your own luck, so let’s make some of it this weekend. Should you need luck against a winless team? It can’t hurt!
Date / Time: Sunday, September 17, 14.00 BST; 9am EDT; 6:30pm IST
Venue: Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England
Referee: David Coote (on pitch); Andy Madley (VAR)
Forecast: thunder and lightning, very very frightening
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); USA Network, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 4 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
AFC Bournemouth team news: Bournemouth avoided relegation last season despite going bottom of the table at the start of March, winning six of their last thirteen games to confirm survival — and finish just four points below Chelsea in the end. We did beat them twice: one of only three teams against whom we were able to win both games last season (Crystal Palace and relegated Leicester City were the other two).
Over the summer, the Cherries appointed Athletic Bilbao legend Andoni Iraola as their new head coach; he’s off to a winless start with just two points from his first four Premier League games, with just four goals scored (former Chelsea prospect Dominic Solanke with two of them).
Iraola will have to do a bit better than that after the team spent over £100m to bring in several new signings, including Tyler Adams (who almost became a Chelsea player) and Justin Kluivert, who’s lost his way a bit in recent years and has yet to live up to the promise he had once shown at Ajax. Incidentally, Adams is still injured, adding a bit more weight to the stories that we passed on him due to fitness reasons. Fellow new arrival Alex Scott (£25m!) has also been ruled out.
Chelsea team news: We’re of course quite familiar with players being ruled out, with no fewer than nine of them currently on the injured list, including still Benoît Badiashile and Armando Broja. Roméo Lavia got hurt in training last week and is set to be out for a while now as well, joining Reece James, Wesley Fofana, Christopher Nkunku, Carney Chukwuemeka, Trevoh Chalobah, and Marcus Bettinelli.
It does help that we have a large squad, so Mauricio Pochettino should have plenty of options available, especially if he insists on playing center backs and left back and left backs at left wing.
Most years, coming back from the first international break would mean the start of our Champions League campaign as well. That’s not the case this year, with no European football at all in fact on the schedule. So we have to maximize our winning for the weekends.
Previously: As mentioned, Chelsea did the double over Bournemouth, including a 3-1 win in early May, the only win of Frank Lampard’s caretaker tenure. Only 6 of the 20 players in the matchday squad that day are available to play this weekend (either injured or transferred out).