Chelsea team today: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso; Willian, Hazard, Pedro
Chelsea subs v Bournemouth: Begovic, Ivanovic, Aina, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah, Batshuayi.
Sky pundit: Chelsea should beat Bournemouth without this key duo
Chelsea are good enough to beat Bournemouth despite the absences of striker Diego Costa and midfielder N’Golo Kante, believes Paul Merson.
Both Kante and Costa picked up their fifth yellow card of the season in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and will therefore miss the meeting with Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.
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Merson believes Kante and Costa are two of the most influential figures for Chelsea this term but has also outlined Eddie Howe’s side inconsistency.
The former Arsenal man told Sky Sports: “If there were two players Chelsea would least like to play without, it would be Diego Costa and N’Golo Kante. That’s what they’re faced with against Bournemouth, but I still think they will be too strong. You’re never too sure about Bournemouth.
“One minute they’re getting slaughtered by Southampton at home and then before they beat Liverpool and Leicester City. Costa and Kante will be missed but Chelsea have picked up the habit of winning games.”
Costa is currently the leading scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals. Therefore others such as Eden Hazard, who has seven goals this term, and Pedro (three goals) will have to continue to provide a goal threat.
Michy Batshuayi is expected to make his first Premier League start and has shown promise while coming off the bench during his first season in English football.
Kante has connected defence and attack in the same manner that he did on his way to helping Leicester City win the league last campaign, with his unwavering tenacity and exceptional reading of the game.
Bournemouth could be presented with the chance to draw Chelsea’s back three out with Kante out as Cesc Fabregas is likely to come in as a replacement.
The Frenchman’s presence in front of Chelsea’s defence usually affords opponents little space to explore, however, Bournemouth’s speedy forward options could have more time on the ball given Fabregas’ defensive attributes.