Bournemouth’s pursuit of their first Premier League win of the 2023/24 campaign faces another difficult-looking hurdle in the form of Chelsea on Sunday.
New manager Andoni Iraola may not stay in England as long as he hoped unless he finds a way to get the Cherries into the win column soon following an underwhelming four-game league start (D2, L2).
Bryan Mbeumo’s last-gasp equaliser denied the ex-Rayo Vallecano boss his first Premier League victory in a dramatic 2-2 draw against Brentford on the eve of September’s international break.
Iraola has had a fortnight to rally his troops as they come into proceedings one point worse off than they were after the opening four rounds last season.
The fact Bournemouth amassed two more points after four matches in their fateful 2019/20 relegation campaign perhaps best illustrates the Spaniards’ disappointing start to life in England’s elite division.
Mauricio Pochettino’s return to the Premier League doesn’t look much more impressive, with Chelsea racking up a single win before the international break (D1, L2).
While a 3-1 defeat at cross-capital rivals West Ham United in their second game could’ve been considered a fluke, especially with Enzo Fernandez squandering a penalty at 1-1, a home loss to Nottingham Forest last time out left a bitter taste in the Argentine’s mouth.
Despite enjoying 76% ball possession and attempting 21 shots on goal, Chelsea couldn’t find a way past last season’s worst travelling side in the Premier League, throwing our 2023/24 season prediction into doubt.
We could’ve overestimated Iraola’s capabilities in our Bournemouth season preview, as the Cherries look closer to another season-long fight against the drop than challenging for a mid-table finish.
A come-from-behind 3-2 win over Championship outfit Swansea City in League Cup action remains the Spaniards’ only taste of victory in his early days on English soil.
Iraola based his success at Vallecano on a robust defensive set-up. But he has struggled to impose such ideas at the Vitality Stadium, with Bournemouth conceding 2+ goals in four out of five competitive games.
Considering the Cherries have only won once in their last seven Premier League home outings (W1, D1, L5), the impending return to Dorset may not be the catalyst to inspire their resurgence.
The aforementioned defeat at West Ham puts Chelsea in an awkward position as they stare down the barrel of four consecutive away losses in the Premier League for the first time since December 2000.
While they had avoided replicating that feat during Roman Abramovich’s trophy-laden era, everything looks possible under the ownership of American businessman Todd Boehly.
His two marquee summer arrivals, Romeo Lavia and Christopher Nkunku, won’t be part of Pochettino’s travelling squad that will be keen to defy an indifferent three-game top-flight form at the Vitality Stadium (W1, D1, L1).
It’s been a while since Chelsea last mustered a clean sheet in away Premier League action, going nine successive league travels without a shut-out since a 0-0 draw at Liverpool last January.
On that basis, Pochettino cannot rest easy ahead of this trip.
Tyler Adams, Ryan Fredericks and Alex Scott won’t feature for Bournemouth this weekend, but they are the only absentees in the home camp.
The picture looks quite different in London, with Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah, Carney Chukwuemeka, Armando Broja, Nkunku and Lavia set to stay in the capital due to injuries.
Bournemouth potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Neto; Max Aarons, Illya Zabarnyi, Lloyd Kelly, Milos Kerkez; Lewis Cook, Philip Billing; Marcus Tavernier, Ryan Christie, Antonie Semenyo; Dominic Solanke.
Chelsea potential starting line-up:
(3-4-2-1): Robert Sanchez; Axel Disasi, Thiago Silva, Levi Colwill; Ben Chilwell, Moises Caicedo, Conor Gallagher, Malo Gusto; Enzo Fernandez, Raheem Sterling; Nicolas Jackson.
We Say: Bournemouth 1-1 Chelsea
Neither side would benefit much from a draw and it’s hard to make a solid case for any team, although Chelsea should at least try to dominate proceedings, likely to no avail.
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