Premier League preview: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth

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  • Terry, Ramires both out for Chelsea
  • Injury crisis ongoing for Bournemouth
  • Even a win won’t put Chelsea into Premier League’s top half this weekend
  • 14th (15 points) vs. 18th (10 points) in the PL

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14th-place Chelsea, who are currently only five points clear of the relegation zone, welcome 18th-place Bournemouth to Stamford Bridge, where the Cherries will be in search of their very first away win over the west London side (two previous tries, two losses – 1989 and 1994).

You can watch Saturday’s match live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

Chelsea will be without captain John Terry (ankle) and midfielder Ramires (knock) for the fixture, with embattled manager Jose Mourinho likely opting for 21-year-old Kurt Zouma at center back and struggling Nemanja Matic in the deepest part of midfield. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is expected to make his return after missing three months with a knee injury. Diego Costa, who was dropped to the bench last weekend, is also expected to return to the starting lineup. Midfielder Eden Hazard started as the Blues’ quasi-center forward last weekend. Chelsea have just one win (Norwich City) in their last five league games, which include three losses (West Ham United, Liverpool and Stoke) and one draw (Tottenham Hotspur).

[ MORE: Courtois could return vs. Bournemouth; Costa to start? ]

Already out with long-term injuries are forwards Callum Wilson and Max Gradel, and club-record signing, defender Tyrone Mings. Additionally, goalkeepers Adam Federici (ankle) and Artur Boruc (knee), defenders Tommy Elphick (ankle) and Steve Cook (knock), midfielders Harry Arter (hamstring) and Mark Pugh (achilles), and forward Lee Tomlin (groin) are all in various levels of doubt for Saturday. It’s been nearly three months since Eddie Howe‘s side last won in the league (Sept. 19, versus Sunderland), and a visit to the reigning champions, no matter the level of turmoil in which they find themselves, is far from what the doctor ordered. The Cherries do have some reason to be hopeful, though, as draws away to Swansea (2-2) and home to Everton (3-3) in back-to-back weeks show they can attack like a Premier League side, even if they can’t defend like one.

What they’re saying

Mourinho, on righting the ship at Chelsea: “We hope the bad run is behind us now,’ the manager said. ‘I have to be cautious and you don’t know what is waiting for you around the corner. The reality is the run was really bad but we were very strong as a club – the technical staff and the squad of players – to cope with that and try to get over it. We started doing that with bad results but good performances. We kept our faith, our stability, and our belief. Finally last week we got three positive results in a row and let’s try to build on that. This month of December can be a good month.”

Howe, on the dramatic draw with Everton: “You hope a result like that can really boost the confidence and the belief of the players – it certainly helps to build momentum. What we are looking to do now is to turn those performances into wins, and hopefully a game like Everton can be the catalyst for that.”

Prediction

At some point everything has to click for Chelsea and start going their way, right? Right? Right? We’ve been asking this very question for weeks now, and though the results haven’t been great the last month, they’ve looked much more of a unit rather than individuals. An injury-riddled defense like Bournemouth will be a welcome sight on Saturday — particularly for Costa. Chelsea 3-1 Bournemouth.