AFC Bournemouth host Chelsea on matchday 5 of the Premier League as the international break draws to a close this weekend. The Cherries entered into the international break in 16th position with no wins so far in the league. Andoni Iraola’s men have drawn twice and lost twice in their opening 4 games of the season and will look to break the duck against Pochettino’s Chelsea who have been underwhelming so far.
Chelsea, on the other hand, succumbed to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest in a game which was frustrating to watch for the Blues’ faithful as their side had just 2 shots on target whilst having 77% of the ball throughout the game. After the heavy spending during the summer transfer window by Todd Boehly, the performances on the pitch haven’t been as promising as they should be considering the amount of talent the squad has this season.
The pre-season tour has become a distant memory now as the Blues are nowhere close to the performances they had during their time in the States. The game against AFC Bournemouth after a break could be the turning point for Pochettino to get his side up and running to build momentum.
When and Where?
Date: 17th September, 2023
Time: 1:00 PM GMT
Venue: Vitality Stadium
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Timothy Wood, Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Tim Robinson
VAR: Andy Madley
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton
Iraola has some positive news ahead of the game as he welcomes back Marcus Tavernier and Adam Smith back to the squad. Against Brentford last time out Tavernier even made a cameo off the bench. The duo will be back and fully fit to make their way into the starting XI while new summer signing Tyler Adams continues his individual training as he recovers from a hamstring injury. David Brooks will be pushing for a place in the starting XI after scoring off the bench against Brentford and also bagging a goal for Wales while on international duty.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have a huge injury crisis at the club as they will be without a host of key first-team players for the game. Carney Chukwuemeka’s injury is set to keep him on the sidelines for another 6 weeks while Christopher Nkunku is ruled out of action until December. Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke both made subsititute cameos off the bench in the defeat against Nottingham Forest and will be in contention to start.
Armando Broja and Benoit Badiashile are also back in full first-team training as they trained throughout the international break and could make the bench after recovering from long-term injuries.
Bournemouth have an impressive performance to build on after their 2-2 draw against Brentford in which a late Bryan Mbuemo equalizer in stoppage time meant they couldn’t get their first win of the season. Iraola’s 4-2-1-3 formation showed its true colours in the exciting tactical showdown against Thomas Frank’s 4-3-3 as the Cherries were able to go toe-to-toe with the Bees and give them a tough fight throughout the 90 minutes. Bournemouth resorted to exploiting the spaces in between the lines which troubled Brentford on multiple occasions as the roles of Ryan Christie and new signing Justin Kluivert were instrumental in the Cherries trying to orchestrate their play through the Brentford press.
This weekend’s opposition also lineup in a similar structure which is a 3-4-3/4-3-3 hybrid which Pochettino has used in all the games so far in the league. A different system than his usual 4-2-3-1, the Argentine has opted to play Ben Chilwell in a left winger/left wingback hybrid role wherein the fullback plays is given complete freedom to join the attack and make runs in behind while there is enough cover in defence with 3 central defenders. Levi Colwill has played as a makeshift left-back during the build-up with Thiago Silva and Axel Disasi making up the defence.
Building up with a structure of 3-2-5 with the wingers occupying the inside half-spaces and the fullbacks stretching the opposition defence, Chelsea looks very comfortable on the ball but are still lacking the attacking output which was the problem last season too.
They have created plenty of chances but are poor in terms of converting them. Having missed the most number of big chances in the league(11), Pochettino has a task at hand to refine the attack and reintegrate the cohesion within the attacking players which was seen during the pre season tour.
The Englishman will be the main player for Chelsea against a shaky Bournemouth defence which has conceded 8 goals in 4 games. He is averaging the most touches in the attacking penalty area (6.23) per 90 for the Blues and has looked very lively under Pochettino. The 28-year-old has scored twice already and will look to add to his tally against the Cherries.
The Scottish international has been the standout performer for Iraola so far this season as the midfielder has been thriving under the new manager. He is averaging 1.4 interceptions per 90 which is in the 99th percentile and 1.05 clearances per 90 (95th percentile) highlighting his impressive performances for the Cherries. Christie will be a key player for Iraola to play in between the lines and cause problems for the Blues.
AFC Bournemouth predicted lineup vs Chelsea: Neto, Aarons, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez, Christie, Cook, Billing, Brooks, Solanke, Kluivert.
Chelsea predicted lineup vs AFC Bournemouth: Sanchez, Gusto, Disasi, Colwill, Chilwell, Gallagher, Caicedo, Palmer, Madueke, Jackson, Sterling.