Cherries crushed by Chelsea bandwagon…..
After a morale crushing defeat against Southampton,the Cherries made the shortish Boxing Day trip to Stamford Bridge to play in form League Leaders Chelsea,who were on a run of twelve games undefeated.
Eyebrows were raised at the team selection again,Howe opting for a 3-5-1-1 formation with Daniels,Cook and Franno as a back 3,Adam and Brad Smith as wing backs,Andrew Surman returning to centre mid with Dan Gosling and Harry Arter,Wilshere in a more advanced midfield role and Josh King on his own up front.
Chelsea were without Costa and Kante ,with Pedro and Fabregas replacing them respectively.
The first half started evenly,both teams having plenty of posession,but Chelsea looking the more dangerous team in an around the box.
Chelsea’s speed of thought and superior touch were in evidence every time they were in posession,and when they didn’t,hunted Bournemouth down with speed and tenacity.
Bournemouth had good posession in their own half and just inside Chelsea’s,but struggled with any final ball to Josh King.
Chelsea took the lead on twenty minutes,the impressive PEDRO finishing off a good move hooking over Boruc and into the top corner from just inside the box.
I thought we might cave in but we actually were looking quite compact,and were very patient in our football,a couple of half chances game before halftime,a Wilshere snap shot was deflected wide,also Wilshere producing a good save from Courtois with a right footed shot after jinking past 2 Chelsea players in the box.
We also had a free kick in a good position that Smith hit poorly straight at the wall after Wlshere had been fouled.
Although the game was fairly even at this point,Chelsea did have the upper hand and always looked the more likely to score.
HALF TIME :CHELSEA 1 AFCB 0
No subs were made at half time and the game carried on as it had finished in the first half,Bournemouth with plenty of posession and not much cutting edge.
Then came the goal that would ultimately decide the game,the impressive HAZARD was brought down by Francis in the box for a definite penalty,and sending Boruc the wrong way himself to make it 2-0.
With the score at 2-0,Chelsea did take their foot off the gas a little,Bournemouth still playing crab like across the pitch from one flank to the other,Chelsea looking dangerous on the break,indeed a fizzing ball across the box from Hazard was just missed by Pedro’s boot,and Boruc spread himself well to deny Willian .
Courtois was really a spectator at times but when he was called into action,made a fine save from Afobe ,who had come on for King,after Wilshere had slipped him through.
With virtually the last kick of the game,Chelsea provided the gloss to the win with a third,breaking forward,a wicked deflection off of Cooks shin by PEDRO sending Boruc the wrong way.
I suppose it was deserved but I think it made the game look like a hammering when in reality it was more like an easy 2-0.
FINAL SCORE CHELSEA 3 AFCB 0
So in summary compared to last season when we beat an off form Chelsea,we played them this season on a record breaking 13 straight Premier League wins,so perspective is maybe needed.
Not many positives to come from the game,one was Howe for once changing his tactics to suit playing a top team.
It didn’t quite work but we didn’t look terrible playing it,though we never really looked like taking the game to Chelsea,it looked like we played for a point.
For me Howe didn’t change anything quickly enough again,more positive subs came way too late in the game to have any impact,
Eddie is at a crossroads now,we have certain stalwart players underperforming,he doesn’t seem to know his best 11 players or formation,and our attack looks low on confidence and impotent.
With a nearly must win game at Swansea on New Years Eve,he needs to start getting the team and tactics more settled if we aren’t to get sucked into a relegation battle.
BORUC 7 could do little about the goals,distribution and handling good.
A SMITH 6 didn’t really embrace the wing back role
B SMITH 6 pacy but decision making and touch found wanting
COOK 9 good performance from our only in form defender
FRANCIS 5 off form,big decision needed on him
DANIELS 6 ok performance in unfamiliar role
SURMAN 6 ticked the midfield over as usual but largely anonymous
GOSLING 5 largely anonymous,not good enough against top 6 sides
ARTER 6 Quiet game for him,seemed one pace slower than Chelsea’s midfield.
WILSHERE 8 sublime in the first half especially starting to really stand out now
KING 6 tried hard but little service
AFOBE (KING) 6 not much time for impact but nearly scored
STANISLAS(SURMAN) 5 again little impact
IBE (B SMITH) 5 only given 13 minutes but gave ball away for third goal
Cherries crushed by Chelsea bandwagon
Cherries crushed by Chelsea bandwagon…..