Chelsea will be intent on securing back to back home wins in the Premier League for the first time this season when they host a Bournemouth side which is still in the bottom three despite late heroics last time out.
The most pleasing aspect for Jose Mourinho his side’s last match away to rivals Tottenham was the quality of Chelsea’s defending, as they looked much more secure at the back than they had at any other time this term, especially considering the strength of the opposition. While centre-backs Gary Cahill – who this week signed a new contract – and Kurt Zouma were rock solid, it was a team effort with the likes of Eden Hazard tracking back effectively to break down Spurs attacks.
The Belgian was also reasonable going forward at White Hart Lane in a game where Mourinho interestingly decided to start without a recognised striker. That he kept Diego Costa on the bench for the entirity of the game was also worthy of attention, and the Spain international did not shy away from showing his displeasure. Whether he is restored or not, this – the first of four home games in five in all competitions – must end in victory if the Blues are to start climbing the table.
For all the world, it seemed that Bournemouth were headed for another defeat in the final game of November at home to in-form Everton, appearing dead and buried at two goals down. Then defender Adam Smith came up with a perfectly placed piledriver and Junior Stanislas found the net to apparently pinch a point, only for disaster to strike as Everton went back in front as late as the fifth minute of stoppage time to leave the Vitality Stadium dejected, nobody more so than manager Eddie Howe.
But even then his side were able to come up with the most dramatic of equalisers as Stanislas headed in unmarked, completing a remarkable rollercoaster of emotions. While it would have been frustrating to concede three goals at home to add to their porous defensive record, it was a fine show of character which will stand them in good stead for this tough trip, and their open attacking style will surely give the hosts plenty to think about over the 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could be back for Chelsea after three months out. However, they are still unable to call upon Radamel Falcao, Ramires and John Terry.
There are issues regarding the Bournemouth goalkeeping situation as it is not yet known whether Artur Boruc or Adam Federici are fit. If not, Ryan Allsop will make his first Premier League start. Harry Arter is definitely out with a hamstring problem.