Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Preview: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth – prediction, team news, lineups

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Sports Mole previews Sunday’s Premier League clash between Chelsea and Bournemouth, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Chelsea will endeavour to end the 2023-24 campaign on a high by qualifying for European competition when they welcome Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

While the Blues are bidding to secure at least a top-six finish, the Cherries are one of a number of teams seeking to climb into the top half of the table.

Match preview

© Reuters

After what had been another below-par trophyless campaign during which head coach Mauricio Pochettino has come under increased pressure, Chelsea have turned a corner at the business end of the season and are now on the cusp of securing European football for 2024-25.

Since suffering a humbling 5-0 defeat at Arsenal at the end of April, the West Londoners have accumulated 13 points from a possible 15 available, winning each of their last four matches including a 2-1 success at Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.

Premier League Young Player of the Year Cole Palmer opened the scoring with his 22nd goal of the season, before Christopher Nkunku doubled the Blues’ advantage midway through the second half. Danny Welbeck pulled one back for Brighton deep into stoppage time, but it was the reinvigorated visitors who came out on top.

Pochettino’s side have risen to sixth in the Premier League table, three points clear of both Newcastle United and Manchester United in seventh and eighth respectively. Chelsea must avoid defeat on Sunday to secure sixth spot and qualify for next season’s Europa League, provided Man United lose the FA Cup final. However, the Blues could climb to fifth and guarantee Europa League football, regardless of the outcome at Wembley, if they beat Bournemouth and Spurs lose at Sheffield United.

Chelsea will welcome a return to Stamford Bridge where they have won nine of their last 11 Premier League home games, scoring 32 goals in the process. They are also unbeaten in their last four top-flight games against Bournemouth, so there is reason for the Blues to be optimistic of success on Sunday.

Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola applauds fans after the match on April 13, 2024© Reuters

Few would have envisaged Bournemouth being in contention for a top-half finish heading into the final weekend of the season, considering they began the campaign without a win in their first nine matches.

Indeed, it was not the ideal start to life at the Vitality Stadium for head coach Andoni Iraola, but the Spaniard – nominated for the Premier League Manager of the Season award – deserves credit for turning the club’s fortunes around, with the Cherries now boasting a club-record 48-point total whilst sitting a whopping 22 points clear of the relegation zone.

A top-10 finish could have been secured by now had they not lost their last two matches against Arsenal and Brentford, losing 2-1 at home to the latter last weekend with Dominic Solanke‘s 89th-minute equaliser followed by a 95th-minute winner from Bees striker Yoane Wissa.

Nevertheless, Bournemouth currently sit 11th in the Premier League table and need to better the result of 10th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, who face Manchester United on home soil, to finish in the top half for the first time since 2016-17.

Bournemouth, who have alternated between victory and defeat in their final league game of the last six seasons, surprisingly have the best win rate of any visiting team to Stamford Bridge (minimum of five games) having won three of their six away matches at Chelsea – most recently winning 1-0 in December 2019.

Chelsea Premier League form:

Bournemouth Premier League form:

Team News

Chelsea's Noni Madueke celebrates scoring against West Ham United on May 5, 2024© Reuters

Chelsea will be without Romeo Lavia (thigh), Wesley Fofana (knee), Enzo Fernandez (groin), Robert Sanchez (unspecified) and Mykhaylo Mudryk (concussion), while Reece James is unavailable due to suspension after receiving a straight red card for kicking out at Joao Pedro on Wednesday.

Nkunku is not fully fit to play 90 minutes, but he is in contention to feature in some capacity against Bournemouth, while Carney Chukwuemeka has returned to team training after a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, although a start on Sunday is not expected.

Thiago Silva is set to start or either come on as a substitute in what will be his final match for Chelsea before he joins Fluminense in the summer, while Raheem Sterling could be recalled to start in attack alongside Palmer, Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson.

As for Bournemouth, Ryan Fredericks (calf) and Luis Sinisterra (hamstring) both remain sidelined, while Iraola has said that he will “try” to get Romain Faivre (ankle) available for Sunday. Chris Mepham (illness) will also be assessed ahead of kickoff.

Milos Kerkez is available for selection after serving a three-match ban and he is set to battle with Newcastle-linked Lloyd Kelly for a start at left-back.

Solanke is set to lead the line and will be looking to score his 20th league goal of the season, while Neto, Philip Billing, Tyler Adams, Marcus Tavernier and Enes Unal will all be hoping to force their way into the first XI after beginning as substitutes last time out.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Petrovic; Gusto, Chalobah, Badiashile, Cucurella; Caicedo, Gallagher; Madueke, Palmer, Sterling; Jackson

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Neto; Smith, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kelly; Christie, Cook; Semenyo, Kluivert, Ouatarra; Solanke

SM words green background

We say: Chelsea 2-1 Bournemouth

Neither side could be separated when they played out a goalless stalemate in the reverse fixture earlier this season and another closely-fought contest could be in store on Sunday, although Chelsea will be regarded as favourites.

Bournemouth have the credentials to cause the Blues a few problems going forward, but Pochettino’s side have looked strong on home soil in recent weeks and we believe they will find a way to come out on top.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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