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Chelsea vs Bournemouth: Match preview and predicted line-ups

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Much talk in the Premier League has been about the Chelsea machine in recent weeks, no more so than their most recent outing, a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, which equalled a club record of 11 consecutive victories. Going into their Boxing Day clash at home to Bournemouth, Antonio Conte’s Blues are seeking to provide the perfect late Christmas present for their fans by breaking that record with one more win.

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They will, however, have to do it against a Cherries team that stunned them in this fixture last season, after Glenn Murray’s late strike was enough to beat the Blues at Stamford Bridge in the first ever Premier League meeting between the sides. The surprise result came in the midst of the poor run of form shown by the hosts last season, which culminated in the eventual dismissal of José Mourinho from the hot-seat of the West London club.

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Recent form

Chelsea’s form of late has not only been record-equalling, but generally impeccable all-round. They are on a run of 11 straight wins, looking to make it a record 12 with three points at home to Bournemouth. Recently however, it has been a case of shutting out the opposition and being clinical, rather than free-scoring, given that under 2.5 goals have been scored in each of the Blues’ last three, and they have won by merely a one-goal margin in five of their last six matches. They can rely on a defence that at times seems impregnable, which has kept a clean sheet in nine of the club’s 11 match winning run in the Premier League.

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Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth however will be no pushovers for the Blues. They did famously win on this ground last season, although a 4-1 scoreline in favour of Chelsea in the return match on the South Coast settled the score. The Blues have the upper hand historically against the Cherries, winning five out of seven meetings between the two in all competitions throughout history, but one win each in the Premier League and key suspensions for both teams will mean this one is very much up for grabs.

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Bournemouth will need to improve their poor away form if they are to get anything from the game though, having failed to win nine of their previous ten on the road in the league and conceding at least twice in five of their previous six away from home. Their last victory on the road came at Stoke, but they have lost their last two away from the Vitality Stadium at Arsenal and Burnley since. Their home form however remains a strong point, and ensures they go into the visit to the league leaders in an admirable 10th place.

Predicted line-ups

Antonio Conte is heavily likely to persist with the 3-4-3 formation that has transformed the fortunes of the Blues and culminated in their 11-game winning run. Cesc Fabregas and Michy Batshuayi are expected to feature in the side this week though, profiting from the absences of N’Golo Kante and Diego Costa, who are missing through suspension after picking up their fifth bookings of the season at Selhurst Park last time out.

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Eden Hazard has spent the first part of the week at Cobham in order to receive treatment to a minor knee injury. He remains a doubt for the Boxing Day encounter but is expected to start. Willian, who has shined in his absence, is favourite to feature on the right of the attacking trio, at the expense of Pedro. Michy Batshuayi would be the central figure in the front three in place of the suspended Diego Costa, with Cesc Fabregas in next to Nemanja Matic in centre-midfield.

For Bournemouth, Eddie Howe told the media last week following his team’s defeat against Southampton that he should have rotated his side to a greater extent, but few surprises are expected here given that the Cherries have enjoyed well over a week’s rest since. On-loan Chelsea man Nathan Aké is ineligible to play against his parent club thanks to the terms of his deal, so Simon Francis is likely to partner Steve Cook in central defence in his stead, with Adam Smith coming in at right-back.

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Howe did hint he could rest Callum Wilson following his return from a long-term knee injury this season, so Benik Afobe is expected to start at the top of a 4-2-3-1 setup on that basis. Junior Stanislas is nearing fitness following an injury sustained in Bournemouth’s win over Liverpool, but the Boxing Day trip to the Bridge is likely to come too soon. Marc Pugh, therefore, should start on the left of the attacking three operating behind Afobe, with Joshua King occupying the central role and Jordan Ibe on the right. Jack Wilshere is expected to continue his run of regular football in centre-midfield, alongside Harry Arter.

 

                                   Chelsea predicted starting XI                AFC Bournemouth predicted starting XI

 

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea are missing the suspended duo of Diego Costa and N’Golo Kanté after both players picked up their fifth bookings during their record-equalling triumph at Crystal Palace last time out. Eden Hazard is rated doubtful but is expected to feature, but John Terry is a confirmed absentee through injury. Marco Van Ginkel and John Obi Mikel are also doubts, whilst Oscar will not feature after completing his big money move to Chinese outfit Shanghai SIPG.

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The biggest blow for Bournemouth will be that of on-loan Chelsea defender Nathan Aké. The youngster has been a revelation for the Cherries since his move to the South Coast and has scored the winning goal in two of Bournemouth’s previous six games (away to Stoke City and at home to Liverpool), but is ineligible to play against his parent club due to the terms of his loan agreement. The visit to the Bridge is likely to be too soon for winger Junior Stanislas, as he nears a return to fitness following the injury he incurred against Liverpool, whilst summer-signing Lewis Cook and Andrew Surman are both out injured.

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Our prediction 

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on the road last time out at the expense of Crystal Palace sees them gunning for that elusive club record of 12 straight wins going into the game with Bournemouth. They will surely now have Arsenal’s record of 14 wins in a row in their sights, but they will have to overcome the Cherries without key players N’Golo Kanté and Diego Costa. The absence of the latter in a particular may hinder Chelsea’s prospects going forward.

Bournemouth have only won one of eight away games this season, which came at Stoke City, but they can take heart from their impressive showing in the first-half of the season, which has seen them rise to a respectable 10th place. 16 of their 21 points accrued this campaign have come on home soil however and they tend to misfire away from the Vitality, so they are not expected to win here, but Chelsea may struggle themselves in breaking through. Our call therefore is another 1-0 shutout in favour of the Blues.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Cs2kaisar judi.

Scott is a Port Vale fan who writes regularly for The Boot Room as a freelancer. He is a fan of several sports but most of his experience in journalism comes from football and volleyball. He has produced several works on major Championships for both the FIVB and CEV in the volleyball world out in Switzerland, and is currently studying for a BA Hons in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford.

Bournemouth

Can Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe become Everton’s next ‘David Moyes’?

Eddie Howe could follow in the footsteps of former Toffees boss David Moyes.

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Eddie Howe
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On Wednesday night, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side were unlucky to fall to a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, as the Premier League 11th ranked club gave the Red Devils a torrid time.

The remarkable success of the young English manager at Dean Court bears an uncanny resemblance to the career path of David Moyes. Just like Moyes, Howe would be a perfect fit at Goodison Park.

In 1998, Moyes began his managerial career at the tender age of 34 at Preston North End, who were then struggling at the foot of the third division of English football. The Scot proceeded to engineer a fantastic turnaround at the club, avoiding relegation in his first season and achieving promotion just two years later.

Moyes brought Preston within inches of promotion to the Premier League the very next season, but the Lilywhites were defeated in the play-off final by Bolton.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League

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In 2002, the Merseyside club came knocking, signing Moyes in March with the club in the relegation dogfight. The Glaswegian kept the Toffees up that season, and the rest is history.

11 years at Goodison Park brought unprecedented success, with Champions League qualification, a string of top-seven finishes, and even finishing above dreaded rivals Liverpool on occasion.

Just like Moyes, Eddie Howe started his career in coaching in his early thirties, and has enjoyed immense success in lifting a lower-league club up the English league system.

Howe took over at Bournemouth when he was 31, steering them clear of the League 2 relegation places in 2009, gaining promotion to League 1 in 2010, going up to the Championship in 2014, and reaching the Premier League in 2015.

If anything, Howe has experienced more success than Moyes before joining Everton, as his Bournemouth side have tremendously overachieved in the top flight and look set to secure their Premier League status for the third consecutive year.

Everton would do well to acquire the services of the youthful English manager in the summer, as his arrival just might spark a similar revival to that of David Moyes.

With his incredible knack of getting the best out of his players, Howe would revitalise the Toffees and breath fresh life into a directionless club; just like the Scot did 16 years ago.

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Bournemouth

Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook looks destined for a top-four club

The 21-year-old has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s squad as a reward for his recent form.

Rob Meech

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His form has largely gone under the radar, but Lewis Cook’s England call-up for the prestige friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy has brought him fully into the public consciousness.

The Bournemouth midfielder has been rewarded for his eye-catching performances since establishing himself as one of the first names on Eddie Howe’s team-sheet.

Keeping the likes of Harry Arter out of the starting XI, Cook has become a fans’ favourite at the Vitality Stadium.

With each appearance, the 21-year-old looks increasingly at home in the top-flight and is growing in maturity.

Cook had been enlisted as cover by Gareth Southgate during last November’s friendlies but didn’t feature. This time, however, he is in the 27-man squad on merit alone.

Despite being a newcomer, Cook has international pedigree.

He captained England at the Under-20 World Cup and followed Bobby Moore as only the second Englishman to lift a global trophy when the Three Lions defeated Venezuela in South Korea.

His progress has been tracked by Southgate, who wants to build a pathway from the age groups to the senior team.

It is a model that has proved successful in Germany, whose 2014 World Cup winners featured a nucleus of the dominant under-21 outfit.

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Southgate has made it clear that, ideally, he wants to pick those who are performing regularly for their clubs.

With an increasingly shallow pool of players to choose from, this is not always possible.

But for the likes of Cook and James Tarkowski of Burnley, their call-ups are proof that you do not have to play for a so-called ‘big club’ to receive England recognition.

It gives hope to all those who harbour international ambitions.

Cook arrived in Dorset with high expectations after joining from Championship outfit Leeds United in the summer of 2016, but his maiden season was bedevilled by difficulties.

He lined up for his competitive debut in the 2016/17 Premier League curtain-raiser against Manchester United, only for a persistent ankle injury to sideline him for seven months.

He featured only sporadically at the back end of the campaign.

This season began similarly frustratingly for Cook, who failed to make the match-day squad for the opening fixtures.

However, he made his first Premier League start of the term against Leicester City last September and never looked back.

First, in partnership with Andrew Surman and latterly alongside Dan Gosling, it is no coincidence the Cherries’ revival has occurred with Cook at the heart of the action.

He has been instrumental in their improvement.

Cook’s style has been compared to Jack Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth.

Howe has credited the Arsenal man with aiding his protege’s development, culminating in this England selection.

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Like Wilshere, Cook could not be described a prolific goalscorer. In fact, he has netted only two goals in 120 career appearances.

Where he shines is in possession of the football.

Linking defence with attack, Cook’s vision and ability to execute a pass are stand-out qualities. He rarely gives the ball away and always wants to move the play forward.

Occasionally he picks the wrong option, but at such a tender age mistakes are inevitable.

Despite the microscopic scrutiny involved in the top-flight, he can never be accused of hiding.

Cook always demands the ball from his team-mates, no matter how well he is playing.

Speculation has risen that Cook might be a target for some of the Premier League’s elite clubs, most notably Liverpool, who were reported to be targeting him to replace the Juventus-linked Emre Can.

Whether this interest materialises remains to be seen, but should Cook’s form continue then Howe may face a fight to keep his prized asset on the south coast.

There is little doubt from those who watch him regularly that Cook has the potential to reach the very top.

England recognition – and a spot at this summer’s World Cup – will only accelerate his rise.

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Junior Stanislas winner cliches Premier League survival for Bournemouth

The Cherries came from behind to beat West Brom on Saturday.

Jake Jackman

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Bournemouth fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital three points against West Bromwich Albion, as they took a huge step towards Premier League survival.

It wasn’t the best performance from the Cherries, but one player to standout was Junior Stanislas. The winger has been in good form during recent weeks and scored the winning goal on Saturday with a superb free-kick from range.

The 28-year-old is reaching the peak years of his career and he will want to be a regular starter in the top-flight. Bournemouth are a good fit for him, as there are no superstars and the team is greater than the sum of its parts. There are sprinklings of quality throughout and Stanislas is one of the players that can produce moments of brilliance on the pitch.

During the second half of the season, he has been one of the key attacking elements for Bournemouth. He has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League matches, but the one on Saturday was the most important of those as it was directly responsible for the win.

There were only minutes remaining and the chance came from a free-kick that was a long way out. Stanislas showed great confidence to take a shot and the resulting goal will go down as one of the best in his career to date.

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The overall performance from Stanislas was a positive one, as he worked hard and contributed in both halves of the pitch from the left wing. The 28-year-old completed two dribbles and made one key pass during the contest, while his pass completion rate was 80%.

He was effective in possession and rarely gave the ball away, which aided the team’s attacking play. In addition to his goal, the winger offered a threat for the entire game and had four attempts on goal. This was the joint-most of any player on the pitch.

Eddie Howe demands total commitment from his players and everyone is expected to contribute to the defensive effort. Stanislas certainly did that on Saturday as he completed both of his attempted tackles. It is important for the wingers to work back and help their full-backs in a 4-4-2 formation. Both Stanislas and Jordon Ibe did their bit for the team.

With their victory over West Brom, Bournemouth moved into the top ten of the Premier League and sit on 36 points. That should put an end to their relegation worries, as they are eight points clear of the bottom three with only seven matches left to play. Although the Cherries have been in the top-flight for three seasons now, it remains a huge achievement to stay in the division given the size of the club.

The success has been due to the team spirit and players stepping up to the highest level. Stanislas is a great example of that, as he has spent the majority of his career in the Football League. He helped Bournemouth get promoted and has continued to improve since the club arrived in the Premier League. Now he is one of the Cherries’ best players and moments like his goal on Saturday reflect that.

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