Chelsea made it three wins in a row after comfortably beating Bournemouth on Saturday evening.
Antonio Conte opted to use the 3-4-3 system away at the vitality stadium. Morata starting upfront flanked by Pedro and Hazard. Fabregas and Bakayoko had wingbacks Alonso and Zappacosta either side, while Azpilicueta, Luiz and Rudiger made up the back three. Bournemouth matched our system, but were unable to match our quality on the ball.
Chelsea quickly took control, and went on to dominate possession in the first half. Bournemouth struggled to keep hold of the ball, and were unable to get it back from Chelsea for long periods. Zappacosta and Alonso were pinning their opposition counter parts back, and Chelsea were using the width well. Hazard and Pedro were also routinely involved, dropping inside to pick up balls from Fabregas, who was key in Chelsea’s incisive movement of the ball throughout the match.
Rudiger and Azpilicueta read play excellently when Bournemouth did muster an attack, and both were imperious throughout. Rudiger played a couple of really nice diagonal balls to the right wing in the first half, but despite being under pressure for long periods, Bournemouth weathered the storm. Morata had our best chance of the half, after ex Chelsea man Begovic miss-kicked straight to Hazard, who put Morata through, but he fired wide at the near post. He later had an effort ruled out by an extremely questionable offside call, after the ball ricocheted to him. He looked level at worst.
So we went in at the break level, but well on top. How often before had we seen a similar story that resulted in Chelsea failing to take all three points? Bournemouth seemed intent on pressing us more early in the second half, but having the same formation as us made it difficult for them to deal with our attacks when we managed to play around them, and the speed of our inter-changes in the second half made it very hard to defend against. Fabregas, Pedro and Hazard all linked wonderfully, and more chances were forthcoming in this half as a result. It only took six minutes of the second half for the decisive chance to be converted. Morata won the ball in the centre of the pitch, and lofted a ball into the space in front of Hazard down the left. Francis looked to have things covered for Bournemouth, but slipped, and Hazard took the chance to get by him and bear down on Begovic from the left. His powerful left footed effort beat Begovic at the near post to put us into the lead.
Chelsea looked on top for the remainder of the match, but it felt like we were in need of a second to kill this one off. Bournemouth showed they were still a danger after Luiz advanced at pace to make a tackle on the edge of the box, but the ball subsequently bounced off Fabregas who was at close quarters, and half time substitute Jordan Ibe fired just over via vital Rudiger touch. Bournemouth only really had one other good chance, which drew a superb ‘goal saving’ tackle/block from Azpilicueta on Ibe as the ball was crossed low to the near post from the right hand side.
Chelsea maintained control from here on in though, and played some nice football in doing so. One move in particular encapsulated this, as Fabregas played the ball into Morata, who’s first time touch back to Hazard was then directed to the right with another first touch pass, for the advancing Pedro, who fired just over. Pass and move football at its best that is extremely hard to defend against. Bournemouth were now experiencing the inherent weaknesses of matching us man for man. When they avoided pressing Fabregas in order to prevent space becoming available behind the midfield, he was able to spray passes wide, or into Morata at will, and when they did press him, the space in behind was utilised by Hazard and Pedro. It was all too much for them to deal with. Cesc nearly doubled our advantage after Hazard put him through down the left side of the penalty area, but he lifted his right-footed effort over the angle of post and bar.
On a different day against a Chelsea side not playing so well, Bournemouth could well have taken all three points, but the reality was that Chelsea were far to good for them here.
Bournemouth 0 (3-4-3)
Francis, Cook, Ake;
Smith, L Cook, Surman, Daniels;
Stanislas, (Pugh 63), Afobe, (Wilson 73), Defoe, (Ibe 45)
Chelsea 1 (Hazard 51), (3-4-3)
Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger;
Zappacosta, Fabregas, Bakayoko, Alonso;
Pedro, (Drinkwater 78), Morata, (Batshuayi 78), Hazard, (Willian 84)