The final game of an extended February turns the focus back on the league campaign and provides a chance to put a European first-leg defeat behind us. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton are ready for our first away outing in four matches…
Chelsea make the final seaside trip of the season with fourth place still firmly in our grasp if not, with this inclement weather, buckets and spades. The Blues have won 11 of the past 14 trips to the south coast in the top tier, losing just one.
However, Cherries must be Chelsea’s least favourite flavour. Since they were promoted to the Premier League in 2015, Bournemouth have won three times at Stamford Bridge (including the 0-1 in December), a tally equalled only by Liverpool.
At the Vitality Stadium it tended to be a different story – until last season’s surprising 0-4 loss. The Blues will be out to avert a third successive defeat to the Dorset side this weekend, and return to the comfortable 4-1, 3-1 and 1-0 successes registered there over the previous three seasons.
Sixty per cent of Chelsea’s goals and 52 per cent of points have been taken on the road, and only Liverpool and Manchester City have a better away record than Frank Lampard’s side.
A weekend like the last would be handy: points dropped by Sheffield United and of course Tottenham saw fourth-placed Chelsea consolidate the lead between fourth and sixth place to four points.
Chelsea will play all of the current bottom five clubs between now and the end of the Premier League season, starting this weekend with 16th-placed Bournemouth.
— Key Stat
The place race
Manchester City have lodged an appeal against their two-season Champions League ban, but for the time being their absence means that qualification for next season’s competition may extend down to fifth place.
The face-off between direct rivals is often called a six-pointer because a team can shave three points from their opponent’s final tally while taking the full quota themselves.
Sixteen such matches between Champions League aspirants placed third to 10th will take place before the season is out. Chelsea face fewer of these high-tension tussles than anyone else – two – while Sheffield United and Tottenham will both play six and Wolves five.
The first of those fixtures comes on Sunday, when Spurs host Wanderers in north London. (Sheffield United’s game at Aston Villa is postponed because of the Carabao Cup, and Manchester United visit Everton on Monday.)
|Leicester||Man Utd home, Tottenham away, Sheff Utd home, Arsenal away|
|Chelsea||Sheff United away, Wolves home|
|Man Utd||Leicester away, Tottenham away, Sheff Utd home|
|Tottenham||Leicester home, Man Utd home, Sheff Utd away, Wolves home, Arsenal home,|
|Sheff Utd||Leicester away, Chelsea home, Man Utd away, Tottenham home, Wolves home,|
|Wolves||Chelsea away, Tottenham away, Sheff Utd away, Arsenal home, Burnley away|
|Arsenal||Leicester home, Tottenham away, Wolves away|
|Burnley||Tottenham home, Sheff Utd home, Wolves home|
As we enter the most crucial period of the season there could be triple good news just around the corner on the injury front. Callum Hudson-Odoi will soon be able to return (potentially this weekend) from his extended absence, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is closer to his first start since May 2019 and Christian Pulisic could return to training shortly, after two months on the sidelines. All three offer goals, assists, ideas and energy that will be vital over what remains of our cup runs and league campaign.
Avoiding the double in Dorset
Chelsea will be looking to make amends this weekend after the reverse fixture in December was settled 1-0 in bogey team Bournemouth’s favour by Dan Gosling’s initially disallowed overhead kick. Emerson had missed a point-blank header at the other end moments before, but he was just one of many Blues players who did not track Gosling when a Cherries corner was cleared but knocked back in.
It was one of those moments that back up statistics suggesting the Blues’ energy and focus could improve as the second half progresses. In fact, the Londoners have outscored opponents in all 15-minute segments in games this season apart from the last half-hour, when 11 goals have been scored in total and 20 conceded.
This contributed towards 22 second-half goals for and 24 against; the Blues are the only top-half side to be running such a deficit. Overall, Chelsea have conceded from 45 per cent of shots on target faced (37/83), higher than any other Premier League side.
FA Cup and Champions League catch-up
Liverpool are at Watford for the live Saturday evening match ahead of our FA Cup meeting at the Bridge on Tuesday.
Bayern Munich have announced leading marksman Robert Lewandowski will miss the second leg of our Champions League Round of 16 tie in Bavaria because of a knee injury.
Meeting and mentality
Perhaps there are better teams to face, four days after a 0-3 defeat at the Bridge, than the most recent to manage that feat previously: Bournemouth (January 2018). Then again, dissatisfaction with the ease of Bayern’s second-half victory ought to provoke a strong response from Chelsea on the south coast.
On the Friday before the Tottenham match, a meeting of staff and squad cleared the air and focused the mind, producing one of the best displays of the season by the Blues.
It was a comprehensive show of accord: a winning attitude, robbing opponents high upfield and a great performances all over the pitch. As well as managing his 14th goal (plus four assists) in 14 starts, Olivier Giroud won six aerial battles, while even in a frenetic London derby Mateo Kovacic delivered passing accuracy just a shade under 95 per cent.
Marcos Alonso impressed in a highly effective 3-4-3, too. Since he joined Chelsea in 2016 the Spaniard has produced more goals (17) and been involved in more (28, including 11 assists) than any other top-flight defender.
The match brought the Blues’ second Premier League double this season after Burnley and the first ever by any team against a Jose Mourinho side. It was also the Blues’ fourth successive victory against Spurs – the best sequence against them since 2002.
|24-Jan-19||Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1||Carabao Cup|
|27-Feb-19||Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0||Premier League|
|22-Dec-19||Tottenham 0 Chelsea 2||Premier League|
|22-Feb-20||Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1||Premier League|
First early bath for two years
Until Marcos Alonso was shown a red card after VAR review against Bayern on Tuesday, no Chelsea player had been sent off since 5 February 2018, when Tiemoue Bakayoko was dismissed for a second bookable offence during a 1-4 defeat at Watford – 751 days earlier.
The Blues’ most recent red-free run of such length was between 20 October 1979, when Gary Chivers was sent off at Cardiff City, and 17 February 1982, when marching orders were handed to Colin Lee at home to the same opposition (both games were still won). That run lasted 101 days longer: 852.
Alonso remains available for domestic fixtures but will miss the Champions League second leg. Also suspended in Bavaria is Jorginho, who received his third card of the campaign for dissent, and is one yellow away from a two-match ban in the Premier League.
Leap of faith
Chelsea are playing a match on 29 February, the extra day in a leap year, for only the fifth time over more than 5,100 matches, the last of which was 20 years ago. It was ancient Greek astronomer Sosigenes who originally devised the leap year concept, but it was not till 1752 that the UK formally adopted the four-year cycle used across Europe.
Chelsea fans might have wished it remained the case that the ‘leap day’ had no legal status (a day that could be ‘leaped over’, hence its title) as three of the previous four matches played on that date ended in defeats. Alas the Chelsea results remain there for all to see in the history books.
|1908||Sunderland home||Division One||W 2-1|
|1964||Sheffield Wed away||Division One||L 2-3|
|1992||Sheffield Wed home||Division One||L 0-3|
|2000||Marseille away||Champions League||L 0-1|
In their first ever leap day game the Pensioners came from behind to win thanks to a second-half brace by £1,000 signing Fred Rouse, one direct from a free-kick. Tommy Harmer had never lost in a Chelsea shirt before the 1964 game at Hillsborough, but goalie John Dunn’s saves and a rare Ron Harris goal helped keep the score respectable.
Without the suspended Vinnie Jones in 1992 and seemingly preoccupied with an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Sunderland the following weekend, Chelsea were three down inside 36 minutes and never recovered. Current assistant coach Jody Morris came on as a substitute at Marseille in 2000, where manager Gianluca Vialli was suspended. Robert Pires beat Ed de Goey at his near post to steal all three points.
|18||West Ham United||26||6||6||14||30||45||-15||24|
Premier League fixtures
Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Manchester City vs Arsenal are postponed due to the Carabao Cup final.
Norwich v Leicester 8pm (BT Sport)
Brighton v Crystal Palace 12.30pm (BT Sport)
Bournemouth v Chelsea 3pm
Newcastle v Burnley 3pm
West Ham v Southampton 3pm
Watford v Liverpool 5.30pm (Sky Sports)
Everton v Manchester United 2pm (Sky Sports)
Tottenham v Wolves 2pm
Bournemouth advise fans should enter the ground at least one hour before kick-off as there will be 100 per searching and bag searches/tagging. It is advised not to bring a bag to the game unless absolutely necessary.
Please be aware that the A338 may be problematic for fans travelling to the match by road and Bournemouth advise that you plan your journey accordingly. The latest updates for travel in Dorset can be found by clicking here