Chelsea host Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge looking to get back in form after losing three of their last four Premier League games.
Defeats to Manchester City, West Ham and Everton have closed the gap between the Blues and the chasing pack beneath them, with Manchester United just five points adrift going into this weekend’s games.
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Frank Lampard’s men did secure qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, however. A 2-1 win over Lille sent the Blues through in second, meaning they’ll face a tie against a group winner in the last 16.
They face a Bournemouth side in even worse form, having lost all of their last five games.
So how will the Blues lineup?
Kepa Arrizabalaga may see a few changes in his back four for the visit of the Cherries. Cesar Azpilicueta was preferred to Reece James for the win over Lille, and Lampard may stick with his captain for the extra experience he brings to the team. Emerson looks set to return on the left after missing the last two league games; he’d started each of the previous four and played against Lille. Fikayo Tomori has a hip injury, so Antonio Rudiger looks set to continue at the heart of the defence alongside Kurt Zouma. The German, of course, recently returned from injury.
In the middle of the park, Lampard may look to freshen things up after such a disappointing defeat. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic formed a good midfield partnership early in the season, and that may be restored. Chelsea missed the Italian’s control in the loss to Everton, only three players with more than eight appearances average more than his 71.6 passes per game (via WhoScored). Mason Mount played just eight minutes in the Champions League, so he should be feeling fresh and ready to return in place of N’Golo Kante.
Christian Pulisic and Willian have been regulars in the wide areas, while Tammy Abraham was substituted in the win over Lille, so he should be ready to play through the middle. He’s got 13 goals and five assists in 23 appearances this season and is the second-highest scorer in the Premier League, behind Jamie Vardy.
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