Chelsea will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they take on an inconsistent Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday night. The Blues overcame Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, but lost 2-0 at Arsenal in their last Premier League clash on January 19 to leave themselves vulnerable in the top four.
Indeed, from being comfortable in the Champions League spots, Chelsea are now facing pressure from the teams behind them. Sarri’s side go into match week 24 in fourth, but they are just three points clear of Arsenal and Manchester United. As that duo have home games with Cardiff and Burnley respectively on Tuesday, there’s every chance they will be level on points with the Blues when they kick off on the south coast.
This latest Bournemouth vs Chelsea clash will be the 15th meeting in all competitions. The Blues have won 11 of the previous 14, while there has never been a draw between the two teams. Never a draw! Amazing, isn’t it?
Maybe that’s because both sides love possession. Chelsea have 696 passes on average per match, while Bournemouth have 424. Eddie Howe sets his teams to play possession based football, moving the ball around in a dynamic and expansive manner. Similar to Sarri, but also different.
The way Bournemouth stroll around with the ball on the pitch makes it attractive to the viewers. While defending, they look to win possession back as quickly as possible and the pressing scheme starts right in the opposition half. But their pressing dynamics don’t look very aggressive, they focus on winning the ball cleanly while conceding as few fouls as possible.
If the Cherries don’t press too much in midfield, they have the total security of Dutch central defender Nathan Aké. He has made the best performance in defence from either of these two sides, with 16,292 points in 2,166 minutes played this season. An average of 7.52 points per minute, earned with good clearances and aerial duel victories.
It is vital the Blues return to winning ways, and a certain Gonzalo Higuain can make his Premier League debut to help them. Higuain has been brought in to score the goals that Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have lacked this season.
The Argentinean certainly has the credentials to be a success, but he needs to hit the ground running. In 12,834 minutes played in Serie A, Higuain had the average of 0.62 expected goals by match. In five seasons with Napoli, Juventus and Milan, he scored 100 goals from a total of 88 xG. Great numbers.
Taking a look at Higuain’s dashboard from the 2017/18 Champions League, he played 856 minutes and scored 12,364 points with goals, shots and some assists.
Howe & Sarri: The same but different
Unlike the stereotypical English mid-table manager, Eddie Howe focuses on ball retention and attacking rather than defending with a deep block and hoofing up long balls to target-men. Once again, the same but different from Sarri.
That’s because the Italian manager has on his side a delightful and powerful trio who love possession and passing the ball with high quality. I’m talking about Eden Hazard, David Luiz and Jorginho. Combined, they are a explosion of ball domination and tether the Blues to one simple idea: we have the ball, you don’t. Deal with it.
The Cherries have not beaten Chelsea at home since September 1988 (when the sides were in the Second Division), but they are certainly capable of making it an uncomfortable evening for Maurizio Sarri’s team on Wednesday.
It’s been special for me to participate in Twelve’s blog team. I believe we’ve delivered great tactical analyses about Premier League and Champions League’s matches, as we did on the Fifa World Cup.
I’m certain we all learned a lot with Twelve’s amazing tools on the site and App. Such a great way to watch football and understand the game. I’m telling you this because this is my last preview for the blog. At least, for a while. Really hope we can get together again soon.
Meanwhile, I suggest you open your Twelve app and follow all Premier League’s matches with it. Compare the players and their influence on the game. Their points and their mistakes. It’s not only numbers, it is the truth revealed as clear as you can see. Hope you enjoyed the journey as I did. And thank you for your support! Guffo