Chelsea welcome AFC Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge on Saturday in their 3 o’clock fixture to try and preserve their 100% record so far this season.
The Blues have so far dispatched Huddersfield, Arsenal and Newcastle and find themselves third in the table, with the side slowing adapting to Maurizio Sarri’s passing style of play.
The opponents are sixth in the table after beating Cardiff and West Ham and drawing with Everton. The Cherries are yet to lose this season having also beaten MK Dons 3-0 on Tuesday night after Eddie Howe made ten changes to the side in order to keep the first team fresh for this fixture.
Chelsea are only going to be without Cesc Fabregas who is still yet to recover from a leg injury and Bournemouth are in a similar position, with Junior Stanislas likely their only first team player absent.
The London-based club will go into the match as heavy 3/10 favourites whereas Bournemouth are 17/2 to pull off a shock according to Sky Bet.
As per usual I would predict Sarri to start his 4-3-3 formation as follows.
CHELSEA PREDICTED LINE-UP
Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rudiger, Marcos Alonso
Kovacic, Kante, Jorginho,
Pedro, Morata, Hazard
I don’t expect any changes for Chelsea now that Kovacic has started his first game, but Sarri may choose to drop a few players.
Pedro and Marcos Alonso have been Chelsea’s standout players so far this season, with Alonso grabbing the winner against Arsenal and setting up the cross for the winning own goal against Newcastle.
However, Marcos Alonso’s attacking flair may not be best suiting to playing left back in a defensive four, as Chelsea have been regularly exposed often down the flank.
As for the Blues’ opponents, Bournemouth have been in fine form and the home side will have to worry about former player Nathan Ake and striker Callum Wilson who so far has two goals in the three games played.
Ryan Fraser has also been in very good form this season and I expect all three of those players to start.
One player not available for the South Coast team is Adam Smith who is still suspended following his red card in the 2-2 draw against Everton.
BOURNEMOUTH PREDICTED LINE-UP
Francis, S. Cook, Ake, Daniels
Ibe, Fraser, King
I’m not sure who Bournemouth will replace Smith with, but I imagine they will play a first team centre back on the right or Charlie Daniels and move Ake to the left back slot, where he is also comfortable playing.
I also think that David Brooks will be dropped in place of some extra Premier League experience and the leading candidate to replace the former Sheffield United player is Jordan Ibe.
Eddie Howe’s side do have the capabilities to upstage Chelsea; the last time the sides met was at the Bridge, with Bournemouth winning 3-0, but Chelsea are 2-1 up in the head to head.
I believe Chelsea will exact some revenge following the last meeting, but would be shocked if they keep a clean sheet, I will predict 3-1 to the home side.