Since Chelsea played Atletico Madrid, they have put in roughly 75 minutes of “good performance”. Over five games, that is simply atrocious. Luckily for Antonio Conte, those 75 minutes occurred in the last two games, so Bournemouth can be important for building momentum.
Eddie Howe’s Cherries are not so sweet this year as they struggle towards the bottom. They are due one of their giant killings, so Chelsea must be prepared for them.
GK: THIBAUT COURTOIS
Willy Caballero saved the match for Chelsea when they played Everton. He made several reflexive saves that will have assuaged fears of his ability as the backup. Of course, his distribution was poor. Overall, Courtois still has a strong edge that will see him start bar any massive dip in form. All of Chelsea’s keepers could do with a clean sheet, and that will continue with Courtois versus Bournemouth.
CB: CESAR AZPILICUETA
Azpilicueta got a rare yet much needed rest against Everton. Hopefully that means he returns to his best and bounces back from his poor form. Azpilicueta is one of the most important defenders Chelsea has – if not the most important. Fatigue may have played in to him dipping, so resting him when possible is ideal. Antonio Rudiger did well in his absence, albeit in a scrappy toe-the-line kind of way. Rudiger will have his time, but for now Azpilicueta returns.
CB: DAVID LUIZ
Andreas Christensen is calm and nearly perfect as a defender. The times when he is not perfect is when he shows his age and makes a mistake a more seasoned defender would not make. The man ahead of him, however, is David Luiz. Luiz has regressed this season and does not look like the veteran defender who could read the game with experience like last season. The choice between the two is tough, but Luiz gets the start for now.
CB: GARY CAHILL
With Azpilicueta needing the rest, Cahill had to step in and be the non-rotated defender. Cahill has been short on mistakes this season compared to the rest of the defense, but he is no John Terry when it comes to organizing the defense and helping to minimize the damage of those mistakes. Like it or not, Cahill is captain now and he will have to shoulder some responsibility for the defense getting pulled around. He will get another chance against Bournemouth.
WB: DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA
Victor Moses is still injured and though Dujon Sterling is deserving of a chance, he is not ready for a Premier League start. So Zappacosta steps in once more. His first match is still his best so far, but he has been steadily improving with each appearance and is nearly back at that level. He is much more threatening from the wing than Moses was, but he does leave defense open at times. If he can fix that issue, he will become a massive player for Chelsea going forward.
CM: CESC FABREGAS
Before the season began, there were reports that Conte was going to give Fabregas more minutes. Some even stated he would be the number 10 in a 3-5-2 formation. Injuries to others have prevented this possible plan and in the meantime Fabregas has done little to justify it. Maybe age is catching up with him, but he simply is not getting involved in the right ways during matches. He starts for now, but when N’Golo Kante is will be right back to the bench.
Bakayoko was the closest Chelsea player to injury and desperately needed the rest. He got it, and now should be refreshed enough to get through to the next international break. He has done a fine job stepping in with Kante out, but it will be impossible to see Bakayoko at his best without Kante fit. Once both are available, Bakayoko will blossom into a major player at Chelsea. The signs are there, he just needs the right motivation.
WB: MARCOS ALONSO
Alonso has been more or less anonymous in recent matches. He is out there, of course, but he is not getting involved. Opponents almost always attack down Chelsea’s right flank or the middle and have mostly ignored the left flank. On attack, the ball usually starts down the right before going down the middle, skipping Alonso entirely. Alonso can get in the spots to be involved, and if he does so Chelsea’s attack (and defense) will be much stronger.
Willian had his best matches in weeks against Everton, and that is including the much worse second half. Willian started that match, so Pedro will start on the weekend. Bournemouth are a weak team so far this season and that offers a perfect opportunity for players to either find form or waste a chance to impress. With Charly Musonda knocking on the door and transfer targets available, Pedro (and Willian) will need to find form soon.
ST: ALVARO MORATA
In a short period, Michy Batshuayi has gone from zero to hero. From looking as if his future at Chelsea was officially over to suddenly doing all the right things, the Belgian has bounced back. The same cannot be said about Morata who has struggled in recent weeks. Watford looked particularly frustrating for him and he was yanked just past the hour mark. He needs to find confidence soon. Bournemouth will offer a chance, but Morata needs to take it.
LW: EDEN HAZARD
Hazard was rested for Everton, but there is almost a feeling in the air that he did not need it. Hazard has more stamina than people like to believe, but a day off could be a good thing for him. Now he will be ready to remind everyone who the best player in the Premier League is. Bournemouth is a wounded animal, and Hazard can have a good time against them. That will be a good warmup for some redemption against Roma next week.