Match Review: Bournemouth 1-3 Chelsea

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Updated: April 9, 2017

Chelsea are three points closer to the Premier League title after a thrilling victory at Vitality Stadium. A deflected Joshua King strike put pressure on the Blues on the stroke of half-time, but Marcos Alonso’s perfect free kick in the 68th minute proved the winner for the Blues.

Conte, aided by the return of Victor Moses at right wing-back, fielded arguably his strongest side. Pedro started ahead of Willian at inside-right forward, and Cesar Azpilicueta returned to his usual spot at right center-back. Nemanja Matic came in for Cesc Fàbregas, who began the game on the bench.

First Half: Both Sides Full of Attacking Intent

Coming into the match, many wondered how Chelsea – fresh off a massive mid-week win against Manchester City – would respond to the pressure applied by Tottenham’s convincing 4-0 victory at Watford earlier in the day. The Blues responded with an attacking ambition that immediately put Bournemouth under pressure. Alonso and Moses played very high and wide in possession, freeing up space for the attacking trio of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, and Pedro.

Although Eddie Howe’s side were able to create crossing opportunities for their wide full-backs, Bournemouth found little joy in the center of the park. N’Golo Kanté and Nemanja Matic were very disciplined in defense – combining for 7 successful tackles — and Chelsea center-backs were always ready to step into midfield to snuff out danger.

Antonio Conte had trouble coping with the loss of Victor Moses, whose unique skillset proved difficult to replace. Moses further cemented his importance to this squad in the 16th minute, when his squared ground pass found Diego Costa in front of goal. Costa’s touch-and-turn was exquisite, but his strike was decidedly less so. However, a fortunate deflection from Adam Smith sent the Blues into the lead.

Chelsea were happy to sit back after gaining the lead, tempting Bournemouth to throw numbers forward in attack. Bournemouth took the bait and were punished immediately when Jack Wilshere was dispossessed in the 19th minute. Kante’s perfect pass found Hazard in space behind the Bournemouth defense. The Belgian rounded the keeper easily before extending the Chelsea lead to 2-0 with a calm finish.

Bournemouth responded strongly (again) and continued to whip dangerous crosses into the Chelsea penalty area. A Charlie Daniels cross found Benik Afobe in the 28th minute. Unfortunately for the striker, his perfectly-struck volley beat Thibaut Courtois but not the post.

Just before half-time, Bournemouth cut the lead in half. After a clear handball was wrongly ignored, King was set free to run directly at Gary Cahill and David Luiz. In the end, King’s outside-the-box strike deflected off Luiz’s knee to beat Courtois at his near post to make it 2-1.

Second Half: Chelsea Cool Under Pressure

Bournemouth began the second half strongly and started to find time and space in the middle of the park. However, the Blues were undeterred and never truly seemed to be under pressure. Bournemouth forwards were very hesitant to press in Chelsea’ defensive third, allowing the center-backs and central-midfielders to easily create passing triangles and hold onto the ball. Luiz often started attacks, adopting deep playmaking duties from the benched Fàbregas.
Although Diego Costa had a disappointing afternoon of missed chances and poor touches, he was involved in some good link-up play, and earned a critical free kick outside the Bournemouth penalty area in the 66th minute. Alonso stepped up and struck an perfect free kick into the top corner, leaving Boruc absolutely flatfooted and making the score 3-1.

Conclusion

It’s hard to overstate how integral Victor Moses is to this team. His versatility and reliability on the right flank allows Chelsea’s forwards time and space to make their magic. As a testament to his importance, Hazard and Pedro combined to lead all players in dribbles (9) and key passes (8).

Ultimately, this was a professional performance from the Blues. Pundits say this is the kind of performance that champions are made of, and it’s difficult to argue otherwise. We are three points closer to the Premier League title. Up next, we travel to Old Trafford to take on a familiar face. See you soon, José.

Bournemouth-Chelsea xG map (Twitter: @Caley_Graphics)

Bournemouth-Chelsea xG map (Twitter: @Caley_Graphics)

Random thoughts

  • How blessed are we to be able to discuss which one of our player deserves Player of the Year? Very.
  • David Luiz’s new hairstyle will get stick from many, but not from me… if he continues to play like this
  • Chelsea have only kept 2 clean sheets in their last 12 Premier League matches. Our defensive vulnerabilities are a concern, but it shouldn’t be a problem if we continue to attack so effectively. Definitely something for Conte to address this summer.

(All non-cited statistics from www.whoscored.com)

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