Only a few weeks ago, it seemed almost inconceivable that Bournemouth would even avoid relegation from the Premier League (PL), let alone finish comfortably in mid-table. However, a stunning run of four wins from their last five outings (L1), including victories over struggling Leicester and Leeds, means the Cherries are all but mathematically safe from the drop.
Indeed, Gary O’Neil’s side have picked up seven victories in their last 12 (L5) league outings, which accounts for over half of the 39 points they have accumulated in the top-flight this season. It has been quite the turnaround on the south coast, and with four games still remaining, they could yet beat their best points tally for a PL campaign, which was the 46 they amassed in 2016/17.
Bournemouth may have the perfect chance to extend their recent good run as they take on out-of-form Chelsea, who must be wishing they hadn’t sacked Graham Potter last month. The Blues have scored only two goals and lost each of their six games across all competitions since putting Frank Lampard in temporary charge, meaning that following an ill-fated tenure at Everton, he has become the first English top-flight manager since 1988 to suffer ten successive competitive defeats.
The most recent of those reversals was an embarrassing 3-1 derby loss at the hands of Arsenal, which means Chelsea, on 39 points, are at risk of failing to make 50 points in the top flight for the first time in 32 years. They also face potentially losing five PL games in a row for the first time since 1993, so Lampard, who admits “we can’t change things overnight,” will be desperate to see his side bounce back to form and avoid being leapfrogged in the table by their hosts.
Key battle: Jefferson Lerma’s brace against Leeds last time out means he has won six of his last nine goalscoring appearances for the Cherries (D2, L1). He will be hoping to extend that record against Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa, who has kept just one clean sheet in his last 13 away games (W2, D3, L8).
Hot stat: Chelsea’s PL matches this season are averaging just 2.09 goals, the lowest total in the division.