Chelsea: Mendy; Chalobah, Azpilicueta, Koulibaly; James, Jorginho, Gallagher, Cucurella; Havert, Aubameyang, Sterling.
Bournemouth: Travers; Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Zemura; Christie, Cook, Billing, Anthony; Moore, Solanke.
Chelsea’s treatment room is already packed with new members, the Blues lost Armando Broja to an ACL injury in a friendly against Aston Villa, and he will be one of at least seven players absent for the Blues next Tuesday.
Both Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech reached the World Cup semi-finals with their respective countries and were therefore given extra rest to recover. Wesley Fofana left the field in the friendly against Brentford because of a knee injury that prevented him from playing here. N’Golo Kante continues to sit out. Carney Chukwuemeka, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ben Chilwell and Kepa Arrizabalaga are all suspected due to injury, but all could soon return.
Reece James looks set to return after being sidelined for several weeks with a knee injury. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to score for the second time against Bournemouth on Gift Day after having done so for Arsenal in 2019.
Bournemouth manager O’Neil also had to work with a squad devastated for various reasons, with between eight and 10 players ill before the Newcastle meeting but recovering, though still Jefferson Lerma, Ryan Fredericks and Marcus Tavernier are ill, will have to be assessed before this game.
David Brooks and Neto continue to be absent, but both could return early in the new year. Lloyd Kelly is back in full training, so could be out against the Blues. O’Neil hopes Lerma has fully recovered from a knee injury to be in the best shape for tonight’s match. Jaidon Anthony is likely to play on the left wing if Tavernier – who has both scored and assisted in the last two Premier League matches – is not fit.
Chelsea have lost 4 of their last 5 matches, the most recent being a 0-1 away loss to Newcastle before the World Cup break. They have also failed to score in the last 3 Premier League matches.
Bournemouth were knocked out of the League Cup by Newcastle before this match, losing 0-1. Currently, they have won only 2 of their last 6 matches, both against Everton, one in the League Cup and one in the national championship. But Everton are in extremely poor form so can’t say much.
Both sides are struggling in form at the moment and so this match will most likely end in a draw. And if so, Chelsea’s journey to return to the top 4 will be even more difficult when they are currently 9 points behind the fourth-placed team, Spurs.
Score prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Bournemouth.
Thanh Vu | 10:13 December 27, 2022