Bournemouth vs Chelsea: Preview, Predicted XI, Team News | Premier League 2018-19
Chelsea travel to the Vitality Stadium to lock horns with Bournemouth this evening, as they look to earn a stronger foothold in one of the top-four places in this season's Premier League table. After collecting a couple of vital cup victories, Maurizio Sarri's men will be aiming to win a few games on the trot, in order to better both Manchester United and Arsenal's attempts to crack into the top-four themselves.
The Cherries are a fierce attacking side, who move the ball quickly and hurt their opponents on the counter-attack. However they will have a job on their hands, as Eddie Howe and co have ended up on the wrong side of results in each of their last five home meetings against the Blues.
Chelsea will have to showcase consistency in the league, having spurned many opportunities already this season to give themselves a cushion in third or fourth place. However, the fact they haven't lost consecutive league games since March 2018 will prove a welcome boost to their confidence of earning a positive away result here.
For that to happen, Sarri will rely on his talisman Eden Hazard to supply the goals. Bournemouth have proved to be the Belgian's prey - the 28-year-old has netted seven and created one assist - in his last eight matches against them, including two this term.
With all of that in mind, here's your team news and predicted XI for both sides ahead of an intriguing encounter on the south Coast.
First-choice forward Callum Wilson will undergo a late fitness test after having sustained a minor knee injury during their 2-0 win over West Ham last time out. With that being said, he's not expected to be risked by Howe if not fully fit.
Former Chelsea striker Dominic Solanke, who joined the Cherries for £19m earlier this month, is still a few weeks away from earning full fitness.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (back) is free of injury once more and made a cameo appearance off the substitutes' bench during the Blues' 3-0 FA Cup win against Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday.
That means they have no injury issues ahead of this clash - Hazard was rested last time out and is expected to start down his favoured left-hand side, while loan signing Gonzalo Higuain is poised to make his Premier League debut.
Poor form has seen Marcos Alonso pushed down the pecking order at left-back, which means Emerson could potentially start again in the league. Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who netted a beautiful goal against the Owls, is unlikely to be handed a starting role here.
Bournemouth (4-4-2): Boruc; Clyne, Cook, Ake, Smith; Fraser, Lerma, Gosling, Brooks; Wilson, King.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Hazard, Higuain.