by Calum Goddard (@CalumGoddard)
AFC Bournemouth’s relegation worries continue after they were beaten 1-0 by the reigning champions Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium.
Manager Eddie Howe made a few changes to his side for today’s game, with the youngster Jack Simpson, who scored for the Cherries on Tuesday night, not being included in the match day squad. The Bournemouth boss opted for a 3-5-2 formation to try counter Chelsea’s 3-4-3 set-up, with Daniels and Smith in the wing-back positions.
It is a tactic that has ended in mixed results for the south coast side, and Bournemouth started off proceedings sluggishly.
Chelsea’s summer signing Alvaro Morata was presented with two huge chances in the first half. The first was put narrowly wide after a mistake from the Bournemouth defence, while the second forced a fantastic save from the former Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic, after a crafty piece of footwork from the Spanish striker.
Morata did eventually have the ball in the back of the net, but the close-range finish was flagged for offside after Cesar Azpilicueta was caught straying.
However, Bournemouth had their share of opportunities in the first half. David Luiz was forced to scramble clear a shot from the Cherries, who went very close to opening the scoring within 45 minutes.
Eddie Howe’s side managed to stubbornly hold the Blues off for the first half, with chances going amiss for both sides.
But after the interval, it didn’t take long for Chelsea to make the breakthrough. Eden Hazard grabbed his first Premier League goal of the season, after a mistake from centre-back Simon Francis left the ball free for the Belgium winger to run onto and slot home.
As Bournemouth pushed forward in search of an equaliser, Jordon Ibe, who replaced the quiet Jermain Defoe during the half-time break, fired narrowly over Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar. The Cherries first attempt on target in the entirety of the match fell in the 93rd minute, when centre-back Steve Cook blasted an effort into the chest of Chelsea’s Belgian shot stopper.
The three points gained on the South Coast leaves Chelsea in fourth place, but Conte’s men have cut the deficit to one point between them and Tottenham Hotspur, after their 1-0 loss to Manchester United.
Bournemouth’s Premier League struggles continue, and they remain firmly in the relagation mire, sitting in 19th place on 7 points after 10 games, only above Roy Hodgson’s ailing Crystal Palace side.
The Cherries’ next game is against away at Tyneside against Newcastle United, in what is rapidly becoming another six pointer for Howe’s side so early into the season.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Bournemouth: Begovic, Francis, S. Cook, Ake, Smith, L. Cook, Surman, Daniels, Stanislas, Afobe, Defoe
Subs: Boruc, Gosling, Pugh, Arter, Wilson, Mousset, Ibe
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Zappacosta, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso, Pedro, Hazard, Morata
Subs: Caballero, Drinkwater, Willian, Batshuayi, Cahill, Christensen, Ampadu
Referee: Craig Pawson