Written by Rodmorg
3 wins in 5 games at Stamford Bridge. That’s a statistic that you would usually hear for games at the St Mary’s stadium, but for Chelsea, and it has become quite unusual. We are certainly the bogey team of The Blues; 0-1 in 2015 and a stunning 0-3 in 2018. Let’s also not forget the 4-0 exactly a year later. It was a game that would probably be a highlight for this season; a bad run of form that leads to a ‘surprise’ victory. Seems as though Christmas has come early for us.
Eddie decided to switch the team with the injury list growing, as he opted for a 5 man midfield with Little Cook playing on the right with Billing, Lerma and Gosling in the centre. King returned up-front and Francis moved into a more natural position in the centre of defence alongside Mepham, with Stacey to the right of the captain.
The match started with Chelsea playing against a team that looked like it was on a five-game winning streak – both Fraser and Cook creating decent chances down the wings. The centre three in midfield closed any space for the Blues, and hence had to resolve with crosses from the wings that went nowhere. It was fairly obvious that Howe had finally done his homework, despite the weakened team at his disposal. What was produced on the pitch was exciting, counter-attacking football – reminiscent of our first season up in the top league. Despite key players out, our side had the desire to win, and it would all pay off at the end of the match.
The backline and midfield were stuck in and concentrated – arguably something we haven’t seen for a while, the centre three made it extremely awkward for Chelsea’s midfield with good blocks and numerous interceptions, with each ball won pinged forward for King or Fraser to grab. We continued to be what we’re good at – set-pieces. Chelsea had a tough time dealing with the many scrambles in the box. We made it difficult for them and took that at every opportunity. Franno and Gosling both came close from a corner late on in the first half but both were saved by a vital block by their defence.
Half Time: Chelsea 0-0 Bournemouth
With no changes after the break, Bournemouth continued to be the better team – by a fair distance in fact. King was causing a heap of problems for the home side’s backline despite being on his own; dancing past numerous players only to be stopped in his tracks by a good tackle from the opposition.
It nearly paid off for Bournemouth as King (once again) wriggled past the defenders to lay off to Gosling from 10 yards out – his outstretched foot glimpsed the ball in what can only be described as a ‘Solanke’ as Chelsea cleared. And Rambo was finally able to do something (after only 70 minutes on the clock), and most definitely justified an England call-up, with a fine point-blank save as Chelsea threatened the Bournemouth goal after a decent match of head tennis.
But the time had finally come: after knocking on Chelsea’s door it had taken 84 minutes for the deadlock to be broken – a corner from Rico was hit away to Lerma on the outside of the box. He sprung up into the air and nodded the ball to GOSLING, who knocked the ball onto his chest and looped it over his head and over the keeper into the net. As cheers rang around the away end, the whistle wrongly blew for offside. Gosling’s face lit up like a Christmas tree down at the gardens (fortunately this wasn’t sponsored by Vodafone), after a lengthy VAR check.
The game finally came to a close, and once again, Chelsea had been defeated at home by Bournemouth, and deservedly so.
Full Time: Chelsea 0-1 Bournemouth
Ramsdale – 9: Wasn’t required to do much but a spectacular save made by him and also a clean sheet. Southgate better have an eye on him…
Stacey – 8: Has certainly improved since joining and didn’t look nervous despite the big step up.
Francis – 9: Great game for the skipper – great defensive display, and looked more natural in the centre. I think the criticism he’s had has been deservedly brushed away. Even looked threatening in set pieces.
Mepham – 8: A little quiet compared to Franno but no mistakes and looks far more comfortable on the left side. A good day for him.
Rico – 8: Becoming far better and more integrated into English football. Bombed forward on numerous occasions and linked well with Fraser – reminds me of Daniels and Pugh.
Cook – 8: Seemed natural on the right; good crossing and great positioning too. Came back to defend too.
Billing – 9: Closed the gaps in midfield, worked really well with Gos and Lerma. An all-round nuisance for Chelsea’s midfield and always there to clear the ball. Shame he is so inconsistent though.
Lerma – 9: Same old Lerma; no mistakes and grabbed a deserved assist. An unsung hero by the media.
Gosling – 10: Couldn’t have done any better – would’ve had two goals to his name if he had been a couple of inches taller. Great composure and skill for his goal, Eddie’s got some tough decisions for his midfield…
Fraser – 9: Best game so far this season; not lazy on the ball, bombed forward constantly and good crossing ability.
King – 8: A little quiet in the first half but woke up in the second – close to grabbing a goal for himself but a good effort on his return.
Motm: Would’ve been the whole team if it was 0-0 but Gosling edges it thanks to his goal
Eddie must have been reading the forums before this match – no chance against Liverpool but a great turnaround in only a week. 10 men behind the ball and then hit them on the counter; very reminiscent from our first season up here. The match in all really – great chances, counter-attacking football and snatching all three points in the final few minutes from a corner. Most might have been expecting a loss with the number of players out but we deservedly come home with three points in the bag.
His choice of having a 5 man midfield made the difference though. The three in the centre closed the gaps in midfield and made it difficult for Chelsea to come within the 18-yard box. They were forced to swing balls in from the wings that were mostly caught by Rambo or cleared by a strong and determined defence. Compared to having 5 in midfield rather than at the back provides great counter-attacking opportunities; the number of occasions where there was an extra man for the pass meant that we were more than likely to score too.
Overall, I’m very proud of the performance of the team. Although some may say it’s boring being mid-table and that we may go down, we show something that has been constant since Howe came in – spirit and determination. It has what has kept us up every season, most teams going down lack it completely – we don’t. It’s why some are still playing since League 1 – the likes of Franno and Gosling (despite their criticism) seem to always give 100% and it does pay off, as seen with Chelsea.