Chelsea’s lackluster Premier League play continued Saturday as the Blues lost for the fourth time in five matches, this time 1-0 at home against Bournemouth.
Frank Lampard’s team has been good in the Champions League, qualifying for next year’s knockout phase earlier this week with a 2-1 win over French side Lille. But after ripping through the Prem during most of October and November, Chelsea’s form has fallen off a cliff recently, with last week’s midweek win over promoted Aston Villa their lone domestic triumph in more than a month.
Banged-up Bournemouth appeared to be the ideal foe for Lampard’s side against which to reverse its recent fortunes. The Cherries are missing several regulars because of injury, and they came into the contest at Stamford Bridge having dropped five consecutive Premier League games. But they deserved the three points they picked up in London, even if they needed a little help from the video assistant referee to get them.
The decisive play in the match came with just six minutes remaining. Dan Gosling sneaked behind the hosts’ back line and, facing his own net, looped a shot over the head of Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and over the line before Cesar Azpilicueta could clear the ball away.
Gosling was initially ruled offside, but replays showed that he wasn’t. VAR agreed, giving Gosling his first strike of the season and Bournemouth a memorable and much-needed win:
Here are three quick thoughts on the match.
Another sloppy display from Chelsea
Earlier in the season, the young Blues’ inability to keep the ball out of their own net was their biggest issue. They’re still suspect defensively, which the club brass is sure to address when the Prem’s secondary transfer window opens next month.
But Chelsea has suddenly gone cold in the attack, too, with the chemistry that appeared to be developing between front men Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount and to a lesser degree Willian nowhere to be found of late, at least in league games.
Perhaps the jam-packed schedule has taken its toll. But even with the Champions League on hiatus until February, the slate isn’t going to get easier for Lampard and Co. as England’s festive season approaches.
A defensive masterclass by Bournemouth
For the Cherries, manager Eddie Howe’s game plan was obvious. With Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson, David Brooks, Charlie Daniels, Junior Stanislas, Adam Smith and captain Steve Cook out, the idea was to defend like banshees to eke out a result.
Chelsea wasn’t clicking on this day, thanks in no small part to the visitors’ aggressive approach. Bournemouth limited the hosts to just a few half-chances while creating several of their own. Josh King squandered at least one golden opportunity to put his team ahead in the second half before Gosling finally converted.
The result was huge for the Cherries, who had slipped all the way to 15th in the table, and should provide a vital jolt of confidence ahead of next weekend’s home match against Burnley and another versus Arsenal on Dec. 26.
A tricky visit to Tottenham up next for the Blues
The problem with losing consecutive matches at home (West Ham beat the Blues at the Bridge last month) is it ups the pressure to make up some of those lost points. That’s a tricky proposition for Chelsea in its next match, with Tottenham Hotspur and former manager Jose Mourinho awaiting them next Saturday.
You can be sure that Mourinho is hell-bent on topping his ex-club. It won’t get much easier for Chelsea from there, either, with another difficult trip to another London rival Arsenal looming on Dec. 29. Given the Blues’ current league form, both Spurs and the Gunners have to fancy their chances.
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