The Premier League returned after more than a month of postponement because of the 2022 World Cup and saw Newcastle, Arsenal or Liverpool play well to consolidate their position in the top 6. Great pressure was on the army of coach Graham Potter when they had only 21 points after. 14 matches and ranked 9th on the rankings.
The 2-0 victory over Bournemouth at dawn on December 28 (Hanoi time) in the 17th round of the Premier League is a cure for Chelsea. At least, 3 points have been obtained to help “The Blues” hold on to the few remaining hopes of chasing this season.
Beat Bournemouth convincingly
On the day back to Stamford Bridge, Dominic Solanke started the game with a quick dribble in the middle of the field that made Thiago Silva foul. The 25-year-old actually had a good 90 minutes against his old team but he alone was not enough. The fixed situation brought by Solanke in the opening minutes of the match was also a rare time in the first half, Bournemouth had the opportunity to approach the home team’s penalty area.
After the first few minutes, “The Blues” started to control the ball better and set up a one-way game. The ball was rotated by Potter’s students evenly across the field with small group bounces. Bournemouth’s line-up became more and more stretched and when their close attacks did not work, Chelsea immediately took advantage of the space.
In a split second that the midfield of “The Cherries” revealed an opening when it was not possible to retreat after the failed pressing situation, Jorginho quickly passed the ball to the foot of Mason Mount in the middle. Raheem Sterling then received the ball from the English midfielder before stretching smoothly for Kai Havertz to open the scoring.
It was a goal that brought a sigh of relief to Chelsea fans. Havertz’s celebratory lawn slide and fist punch into the air as a release for the pressure that “The Blues” faced before the match.
About 8 minutes later, the German striker added an assist for Mount to make it 2-0 after a technical cut. At this point, Bournemouth was forced to push forward to find an equalizer and that only brought more space for the Chelsea forward line. In the 43rd minute, Christian Pulisic hit goalkeeper Mark Travers, but the goal was disallowed because of Havertz’s error earlier.
Before Bournemouth, coach Potter’s 4-2-3-1 formation worked well with the central midfield pairing Jorginho and Denis Zakaria, on loan from Juventus in the summer. With a forte in defensive midfield, Zakaria does a good job of cleaning up the midfield, creating conditions for Jorginho to distribute the ball effectively. Notably, this is the first time the Swiss player has played in the Premier League this season.
In the context of N’Golo Kante’s injury with no return date, Chelsea lacks a person capable of defending from afar. Mateo Kovacic or Ruben Loftus-Cheek are attacking midfielders and combining them with Jorginho in Chelsea’s midfield lacks contention. The new discovery of Zakaria is therefore likely to continue to be considered by Potter in the future.
In general, the 2-0 victory over Bournemouth was determined from the first minutes of the first half. Those are 3 points that are gentle but convincing and extremely necessary to help the players returning from the World Cup regain the feeling of the ball and the Chelsea team to regain the rhythm of the game.
Reece James’ worries
Entering the second half, the stands of Stamford Bridge expected the home team to have more goals. That is entirely possible as the Chelsea players showed good connection throughout the first half and it is likely that there will be more space in the second half to exploit as Bournemouth have to move forward to attack.
In fact, Chelsea’s pace of play did not decrease when they still imposed the game. However, their excitement somewhat decreased after James could not continue to play and had to make way for Cesar Azpilicueta. In the 53rd minute, James was lying on the ground holding his face after the situation of breaking the ball to the edge, but this player did not collide with anyone.
Most likely, the knee injury that caused James to miss the 2022 World Cup has recurred. The England full-back was able to get up on his own and walk straight into the tunnel but his face clearly showed pain. “Reece James, he belongs to Chelsea,” the theater fans echoed in the stands, but the anxiety certainly didn’t go away.
This is James’ comeback match after 2 months out due to injury. During his time on the field, the 23-year-old player affirmed his important role. On the offensive front, James coordinated well with Sterling and constantly stirred the Bournemouth defense. On the defensive side, he also fulfilled his role when he didn’t give the opposing striker any chance.
James was a very important part of the operating system of “The Blues” under coach Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and now Potter. Strength and speed help the young English defender complete defense and bring life to Chelsea’s right corridor.
Since James was injured in mid-October, Potter’s army has only won 2 points after 6 matches in the Premier League. Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Pulisic or even Sterling have all been used to fill the right-back position left by James but without success. Without James, Chelsea both lacked the speed down the border, and lost a solid rock on the right wing.
“We are concerned and are checking. The results will probably be announced in the next 24-48 hours,” coach Potter shared in the press room after the match against Bournemouth. In the context that Chelsea will face Manchester City and Liverpool in January, James’ injury relapse is very untimely. The joy of victory of “The Blues” is not complete on the day of returning to the Premier League.
Minh To | 15:00 December 28, 2022