Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea head south on Saturday for a crucial Premier League encounter with Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Both teams arrive on the back of 3-0 reversals, in rather different circumstances, and with a real need for three points at either end of the table.
Chelsea currently hold onto the fourth spot and a Champions League place, while their hosts are in the middle of a fierce relegation battle.
The very latest Premier League 2020 prediction here at SBOTOP don’t make good reading for Eddie Howe’s Cherries, who are highly believed to take the dreaded drop into the Championship.
Bournemouth’s owners have invested heavily in the playing staff, but injuries and inconsistency have hampered Howe’s endeavours this season.
But they have beaten Chelsea twice in their last two meetings and have the weaponry to push the Blues hard.
Cherries time to shine
Howe’s side have been showing signs that they can steer away from trouble, with two wins from the last five games keeping their heads above water. But it’s tight at the bottom of the table, as only four points separate Brighton in 15th from Watford in 19th place.
The Cherries are 16th with 26 points, and might well need to approach the 40-point mark to be safe, and that would mean four wins and a couple of draws from their last 11 games.
This time last year, Bournemouth were as good as safe with 34 points, and they strengthened again in the summer, but now the squad needs to deliver.
Up front, the two Wilson boys, Harry and Callum, have scored seven goals each, and Norway international Josh King has three. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has been the pick of the rearguard.
Top four battle for Chelsea
Frank Lampard’s Blues haven’t had the best preparation for this crucial clash, suffering a 0-3 thumping at the hands of FC Bayern in the Champions League. Serge Gnabry scored twice for the Bundesliga champions and the Blues had Marcos Alonso sent off in a bad night at the office.
Chelsea have struggled recently, notably conceding the lead twice in a draw with Arsenal, as the Gunners ended up with 10 men, but a 2-1 win over Spurs last week preserved a three-point cushion over fifth place.
Earlier in the season, striker Tammy Abraham was all over the Premier League 2020 news with his goal record, which took him to the top of the scoring charts. He has 13 to his name, but an injury coincided with Chelsea’s dip in form. He came off the bench against Bayern and is likely to start at the Vitality Stadium.
Both teams had huge problems with VAR last week. In Chelsea’s case, the beef was with the judgement made at Stockley Park when Spurs’ Giovani Lo Celso escaped a red card after stamping on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg. It was a clear red and the VAR officials later apologised, so we’re stepping into new territory.
In Bournemouth’s case, it was a little less clear, more the weight of disappointment when you think you’ve just equalised but you go 2-0 down.
Full-back Adam Smith appeared to keep the ball in play with his arm in his own penalty area. But while Burnley players appealed, the Cherries broke away at speed and Harry Wilson rounded off an electrifying move.
But the VAR replay showed the ball had hit Smith on the badge on his arm. Wilson’s goal was annulled and Jay Rodriguez slammed home the penalty.
The Cherries have had a fair amount of success against Chelsea since they arrived in the Premier League in 2015. Howe’s team have won four of the 11 clashes, losing the other seven.
Bournemouth stunned Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in December, winning 0-1 thanks to a late Dan Gosling goal. But that win was followed by five defeats and a draw as Bournemouth plummeted down the table.
The Cherries have recently shown some fight and both teams have won two from the last six in all competitions.
When the two teams met at the Vitality Stadium last season, Howe’s team thrashed Chelsea 4-0.
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