Written by Rodmorg
Chelsea were once again drawn with Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup. The exact same fixture had occurred in the Quarterfinals for us last season and had resulted in a 2-1 loss despite a 90th-minute equaliser by Dan Gosling, but heads were held high for a good performance against strong opposition. Only a month later would Bournemouth return to the bridge to sweep aside the side in a memorable 0-3 win.
All scorers of that match started again. After the Wolves defeat, Callum Wilson, David Brooks, Artur Boruc, Jack Simpson and Lys Mousset came in place of Asmir Begovic, Ryan Fraser, Josh King, Andrew Surman and Jefferson Lerma. With no natural central midfielder starting, Eddie opted for a middle three of Brooks, Ake and Stanislas in a 3-5-2 formation.
Keen to replicate a great performance last season, the Cherries fans who made the trip to London were in full voice as confidence was sky high as the game kicked off. Constant pressure early on by a strong Chelsea led to Boruc being forced to make a great save with only 10 minutes on the clock. Chelsea’s attacks were reminiscent of our displays of recent – constant pressure in the first 20-25 minutes.
With the game plan of ‘hitting them on the counter’ in the minds of the eleven, there was a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after 20 minutes. A blistering counterattack led by Mousset allowed the Frenchman to through-ball an excellent pass to Wilson, who had no choice but to hit it first-time that went agonisingly close from 18 yards out.
Brooks, Wilson and Mousset all linked perfectly well midway through the first half as Bournemouth searched for what looked to be like an inevitable opener. Majestic play by Brooks gave him a couple of opportunities, but the best fell to Mousset with 10 minutes left. Jordon Ibe, under criticism recently and playing RWB again, danced past 3 defenders to lay-off to Mousset; with his right foot, unleashed a curling shot that looked destined to go in, only to be saved by Kepa, the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.
As Half Time drew to a close, Bournemouth were on the front foot and defended well; only restricting Chelsea to long-range efforts that did no harm to Boruc.
Half-Time Chelsea 0-0 Bournemouth
The momentum was carried through the dressing room and back onto the pitch as Bournemouth looked the better of the teams after half time, but concluded with no goals as Eddie rolled the dice after the hour mark and brought on Ryan Fraser for Stanislas. His involvement came straight away as he blasted across the pitch whenever a counter-attacking opportunity came.
The away fans were in great voice had begun to affect the confidence of the Chelsea team, frustrations were shown by their manager Sarri and by the players as Bournemouth looked likely to get a goal but time was running out. Eddie switched King for Mousset. By 80 minutes, a shout for a penalty from a supposed handball incident was not given to Bournemouth, and Wilson had come agonisingly close again, only for his sliding effort to be miraculously blocked by their defender.
Then, the goal came that struck the momentum and spirit of the well-oiled Bournemouth machine. A counter-attack on the left started and substitute Pedro unlocked the stubborn defence, who back-heeled it to Hazard to strike from 8 yards out, after a heavy deflection from Daniels. An extremely unlucky goal at the wrong time, when Bournemouth had looked their absolute best for a while. The build-up to the counter-attack and subsequent goal had King be blatantly hauled back by a Chelsea player, which referee Anthony Taylor had ignored and waved play on. The outcome may have been different if he had picked the correct decision.
Howe brought on Jermain Defoe and switched to a 4-4-2 to try and snatch a goal for the game to go to penalties but it never came. Two heroic saves from Boruc after the goal, both from point-blank range, limited the deficit to the solitary goal. One final free kick deep into added time led to a scramble in the box as a plethora of players tried to score, but to no avail.
Full Time: Chelsea 1-0 Bournemouth
Artur Boruc – 9 – MOTM: 39 in February and is still of first team quality! Made some excellent saves and was the winner of both one on one encounters he had. Was not at fault for the killer goal, and should be proud of his contribution. An excellent performance. Would be a 10 if he was more accurate with his kicking.
Jordon Ibe – 8: A complete turnaround after a poor game on Saturday. Evident that Eddie has been concerned with his performances and he was great in a somewhat unfamiliar role. Had good confidence on the ball and I lost count of how many times he blasted forward. Seemed to have passed the ball more often as well.
Steve Cook – 8: A very consistent performer and took the armband with pride. A great captain’s contribution. Made some excellent tackles and interceptions to keep their front three quiet for most of the time. Some key tackles late on too.
Jack Simpson – 7: Confident on the ball against strong opposition. Good marking and tracking back throughout, but needs some improvement in his heading.
Charlie Daniels – 8: Good on the left and very confident on the ball. Did provide some good tackles and interceptions too. On numerous occasions, he danced through numerous defenders. Much better performance than last time out.
Diego Rico – 7: Very much similar to Daniels, although his crossing was poor, as, on most occasions, most of his crossing ended in a through or a goal-kick. Made an awful error of a corner too.
Nathan Ake – 7: Looked a little ‘lost’ in midfield. Did well to defend but seemed rather scared when the ball was at his feet but produced no errors.
David Brooks – 9: What a signing he’s been for us. Confidence was through the roof for Brooks. A 10/10 first half but became slightly less involved in the second half. Extremely unlucky to not have a goal or assist to his name. Reminds me of Paul Scholes in his good days.
Junior Stanislas – 6: Wasn’t good again. Did create some opportunities with one beautiful ball to Wilson but that’s it.
Lys Mousset – 8: What a great contribution tonight. Looked destined to get a goal or provide an assist in the first half but unlucky in both circumstances. Had a great game but tired, so deserved a rest.
Callum Wilson – 8: Returned from a slight injury issue to be at his best again. He was unfortunate not to get a goal too but has certainly justified why there is interest from other clubs.
Ryan Fraser (Junior Stanislas 70) – 7: Came on to the pitch and changed the tempo of the game instantly. An excellent substitution by Eddie; occupying the left flank and having blistering pace, but did gradually get less involved.
Josh King (Lys Mousset 80) – 6: Did get bullied out of possession a few times but did show some great dribbling ability.
Jermain Defoe (David Brooks 88) – N/A.
Overall Team Rating – 9:
Perhaps the most unfortunate games we’ve had all season. We stumbled a little early on but grew into the game and looked certain to score for a while. An excellent contribution from all players involved. A slight shame a few weren’t the best but were dwarfed by the excellent performance of their partner(s).
I’ll confess after looking at both lineups pre-match I expected a defeat, but never judge a book by its cover. Despite the defeat, we produced an astonishing performance and took the game to the home side. Most of the players starting usually make cameo appearances in the league (eg Ibe and Mousset). In fact, they all turned out to be fantastic tonight, against a very strong opposing team. The improvements of Ibe, Mousset and Rico shown proves that our team is capable of being successful and we are built on spirit, confidence and motivation. It also shows the quality of the depth we have in our team. Young prospects such as Simpson and Mousset should be proud of their performance. I should not continue without mentioning how well Boruc did too. Despite his lack of appearances and age, he has certainly proved he is incapable of being in competition with Begovic now. The point blank and diving saves he made came with no errors, which is sometimes seen with Begovic.
Perhaps Boruc may get a starting place in the near future?
Once again we’ve been knocked out in the Quarters after good games against lower league opposition and a valiant performance against a team we’ve beaten twice before away in the Premier League. Where does this lead us though? Well, firstly it implies that we are capable of reaching the Semi-Finals and even the Finals of a Cup competition. Chelsea struggled against a team with a majority of players that do not start regularly with a team filled with International talents. Secondly, leaving the competition on such a high note will surely change the poor run of form we’ve experienced recently. The team and fans had the confidence of a win after halftime and unfortunately, it wasn’t delivered but no fan or player should hang their head in shame. Hopefully, the performance is replicated in the next home fixture versus Brighton on Saturday.
I thought it was an excellent performance and we showed great spirit, but I’m not sure we can claim to have been that unlucky. Chelsea still controlled large chunks of the game and Boruc was on fire.
Very encouraging performance though and good to see some strength in depth. – Join the conversation, click here.