Chelsea vs Bournemouth
K/O: 15:00 hours
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Lee Mason
Mauricio Sarri looks to continue his unbeaten start at Stamford Bridge and send Chelsea back to the top of the Premier League table. In his way will be an unbeaten Bournemouth side who will be no easy test for the Blues and are themselves looking to break into the top four.
Chelsea are looking to keep their perfect record in tact after recording wins vs Huddersfield, Arsenal and Newcastle respectively but despite this; Bournemouth themselves are unbeaten with two wins and a draw from their opening two games after impressive performances against Everton, West Ham, and Cardiff. Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser each have two goals each and have stood out so far for Howe’s men and there is no doubt that Chelsea will look to neutralize that threat from the outset and throughout.
Having said this, no side have gotten the better of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge more than Bournemouth over the last three years which will give Howe and his side great confidence going into the fixture, not that this is needed at this time. The Cherries have won twice along with Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Manchester City at Chelsea’s home and if they can come away with the points here, it will be a huge coup for Eddie Howe’s side.
Sarri has relatively little issues in terms of team selections with more or less a fully fit squad. Fabregas has yet to recover from the knee injury he gained in pre-season but even if he was fit it would be unlikely he would start. Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley are the ones pushing for a spot in the midfield but currently Jorginho, Kante, and Kovacic are Sarri’s first choices.
With regards to the front three; now Hazard is back to full fitness it looks like Pedro may miss out with Giroud pushing Morata for that central spot. Hazard has looked electric in his performances from the bench so far, so lets hope Bournemouth’s defensive line have got enough to handle him at full fitness.
In stark contrast Eddie Howe has a fair few selection issues to resolve before the weekend. Mousset, Stanislas, and Pugh are all out injured for the foreseeable future.
However, the two new signings of Diego Rico and Jefferson Lerma will be pushing for some league action after starting in mid-week in their 3-0 win over MK Dons. Rico will be fighting against Charlie Daniels for a spot so maybe Lerma will be more likely to make his league debut.
Defoe too is struggling to get into the team with Wilson and Josh King in such great form. Howe usually plays with two up front but against Chelsea this weekend dropping one of the strikers deeper could be the way to go in order to counter the attacking threat of the Blues.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Alonso, Luiz, Rudiger, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic; Pedro, Morata, Hazard
Bournemouth: Begovic; Daniels, Ake, Cook, Smith; Fraser, Lerma, Surman, Brooks; King; Wilson
Score Prediction: Chelsea 2 Bournemouth 1
I think this will undoubtedly be a very close game at the Bridge but I have a feeling Chelsea will edge it and continue their 100% record. Their front three will just have a bit too much for Bournemouth but I have a feeling it will be a late winner that does it, just like it was back in Newcastle last weekend. Eden Hazard is in fantastic form and he may well be the difference between the two sides.