Written by Neil Dawson
Wow. There’s another one for the ‘I was there’ file. Unless you weren’t of course and are thankful for live streams. This particular file only had ten entries ten years ago and sat in a nice collection of dust…since then it’s been opened more than a Wetherspoon’s toilet door on a hot bank holiday. Liverpool, Arsenal, United…Chelsea of course already filed twice but none such a resounding result as tonight.
There was little hope of this result when the team was announced. No Wilson…sparking more speculation…no Lerma, presumably either a training knock or being saved for Cardiff’s more crucial game. No hope according to the mutterings in the concourses as Chelsea’s’ new H Bomb forward line of Hazard and Higuaín strutted through their warm up.
Indeed, if we are, to be honest there was little hope from the early exchanges with Chelsea racking up 80% possession and Bournemouth giving the ball away at will, penned into their own area for large swathes of the first 20 minutes. The defence held firm, Boruc positioning excellent as was his flying save to deny Pedro. He was indebted to the post as well later when another flowing Chelsea move saw the Spaniard’s head connect. With Hazard weaving his normal magic It only looked a matter of time.
Bournemouth’s game-plan was to keep the shape and then explode on the break. It should have yielded the lead when King burst through but Arrizabalaga (forthwith known as Arriz) pulled off a good stop. The second break saw Brooks bomb on and ignore the runners to fire down Arriz’s throat.
It was always back to Chelsea pressure though and a masterful display by the Bournemouth back four who were immense all night kept every cross or pass from being a threat. Higuaín’s alma maters include AC Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus and Napoli – he must have wondered where he was when he ran out – those clubs have training ground stands bigger than our main stand. He won’t have met many better opponents than Steve Cook though who played him off the pitch.
Bournemouth’s third and final break of the half saw Stanislas vicious drive beaten out by Arriz. Three breaks, three great opportunities, no goals. A sign of what was to come though.
HT AFCB 0 Chelsea 0
Bournemouth took the lead with their first break of the half. Fraser scampered and fed Brooks, his vision and drag back was sublime and KING smashed past Arriz from 15 yards. Chelsea were unflustered and resumed their patient passing but it was frustrating their fans and they started to rush and make mistakes. From one of these King pounced and lobbed over the top to BROOKS. The wizard of Wales had a lot to do but he is on top form at the moment and he caressed it around Luiz to get it onto his left and then finished unerringly into the bottom corner. Dreamland.
Chelsea went back to camping outside our box but the spirit was dropping and the space for them non-existent with both full-backs straight on their men and Surman having one of his greatest games covering and calmly passing out of defence. Bournemouth continued to break at pace and the third goal saw a flowing move with Clyne and Stanislas crossing to KING for an almost exact replica of his clincher v West Ham.
That was it for Chelsea, fans on their back and heads dropped and finally, Bournemouth broke out and played stylish football to the cries of Ole and finding great angles and better energy in the final stages. Boruc made a tremendous reaction stop from a corner to deny Rudiger (might have been someone else I was in disbelief by this point) and Gosling cleared off the line. Eddie ran down the clock in the normal fashion with Ibe arriving for Brooks and eventually DANIELS for Fraser. Good old Charlie, club legend and a fitting final sentence to this game – he’d only been on the pitch a minute, made one barnstorming run and then from the resulting free-kick flicked his black locks onto the cross to send the ball arching over Arriz and the crowd into total delirium.
FT AFCB 4 Chelsea 0
Boruc 8 – Two clean sheets since his return and superb tonight.
Clyne 8 – A tremendous defensive performance against Hazard.
Cook 8 – Imperious and Higuaín was well and truly welcomed to England.
Ake 8 – Class job against his old club – totally in control.
Smith 8 – On it from the first minute, energy and intelligence
Stanislas 7 – Moved around the pitch well, some good link-up play better 2nd half.
Gosling 7 – A bundle of energy and force with some misplaced passing.
Surman 8 – Superbly controlled passing game – rolling back the clock.
Fraser 7 – Kept beavering but well marshalled tonight.
Brooks 8 – Such clever feet and vision. Mixing it with top players now.
King 9 – Pace scared them to death. Great feet too. 2 goals and an assist.
MOM – Queue up most of the team… I’m giving it to Josh for most direct impact but back four and Surman also right up there with a good shout.
Who said we can’t beat the top six. A very strong game-plan today, very obvious to all watching and it worked a treat. People saying this was one of our greatest ever performances – I don’t say this to be controversial but I disagree! It was one of our greatest ever results and one of our greatest ever defensive concentration games I have seen but Chelsea were the better team for 75 minutes of this game. How they didn’t win was down to defending of the greatest quality, a keeping of shape and getting back into the position that will make Eddie swell with pride and an executed playing on the break which despite misfiring first half yielded supremely in the second half.
We are such an odd team for playing in spells. A couple of weeks ago I struggled to remember what a convincing win felt like. Now I think we could take on Barcelona and catch them on the break. It seems churlish to mention it on a night like tonight but if we could solve these once a season nightmare run patches it’s scary to think how good we could be.
Other points to note. Josh is fine up front as the main man – he demonstrated that with the greatest haul by a Bournemouth striker in the top league two years ago and he is always better further forward. For people panicking about life after Callum….take heart from today (and he might not go anyway!). David Brooks – more of a 9 than a 10 today positioning wise but he may make a striker watching him closely and his potential is frightening as I still think we are only scratching the surface of a phenomenal talent.
Also, people panicking about Lerma’s suspension (I can admit to being in this number prior to tonight) panic, not my friends. Sumaniesta is here. Finally – I can see why Clyne was rated as he was prior to an injury. What a result – I think we are one win from being able to relax and plan for next year. Solanke and Mepham on the bench… subject to not losing anyone tomorrow it could be a real chance to push on and beat the points total.
Very happy days.
Every single one of those players was superb tonight. Even the much-maligned Ibe did really well I thought
Is there any chance we can keep Clyne?- he has made a massive difference to the defence and surely should be playing for England again soon.
It may seem churlish to point this out but the way Chelsea disintegrated was pretty disgraceful- even in the games where we get hammered, our heads have never dropped like that. They just gave up. – Join the conversation, click here.