This Saturday sees Chelsea host AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League. In their last match before this season’s first International break, Maurizio Sarri’s side are aiming to continue their 100% start to their league season.
The visitors, under the expect leadership of manager Eddie Howe, are enjoying their greatest ever spell. Having been founded back in 1899, 6 years before The Blues, it has taken until their promotion up to the Premier League in 2016 for The Cherries to play in the top flight of English football. Now in their third season amongst the big boys, Eddie Howe is attempting to prove that they can be classed as an established top flight team.
They have certainly started the season in impressive form. After victories over Cardiff City and the big spending West Ham United, they battled back from 2 goals down against Everton to gain a worthy draw. Despite their comparatively small budget, they have scored twice in each match and deservedly sit in the top 6.
They are a very hard working team who line up in a compact 3-4-3 formation where every player does their job to the best of their ability and they all work for each other as a team. They are definitely a side on the way up.
Chelsea meanwhile, have been victorious against 3 different style of sides in 3 different style of matches. This is all the more impressive due to a new manager who has changed their formation and is revolutionary changing his team’s style of play. So far, despite some teething issues, the end result is a team that looks like a genuine force while playing entertaining football.
Sarri has already settled on his first choice line up with just a few tweaks as players reach the necessary fitness levels. And with Jorginho, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Now Mateo Kovacic settling into the team, The Blues look stronger and a more rounded side. Eden Hazard is already showing signs that he is one of the most exhilarating players in the world, while he has been ably supported by Pedro and Willian.
However, it already appears that the ex Napoli manager has 2 main areas still with a lot of work to be achieved if his side are to challenge for the title.
Alvaro Morata, whilst improving on some of his most frustrating flaws of late last season is still struggling to link up play and get the goal scoring chances he, and his teammates, needs. Also, whilst the newly recreated back 4 have been unchanged for the opening matches, there are signs of vulnerability. Arsenal at times and Newcastle for their equaliser showed that precise passing can scythe through the Chelsea defence and punish them fully.
Bournemouth will be another tough side to gain all 3 points against. A tight formation with a robust strength will take all of Chelsea’s quality and perseverance to break down. This will be a match where a relatively early goal for the home side could make the tie much easier but this match could be as much about keeping a clean sheet. In attack, Chelsea are head and shoulders above Bournemouth, but The Blues need to show their own resilience at the back.
A home win would maintain their 100% start as the Premier League goes quiet for 2 weeks. Surely even in the most ardent of Blues fans’s heart would they have believed that their beloved side would have such a winning start.
Written by Jon Ellis, home and away season ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @ClitheroeBlue