LONDON, April 23- Bournemouth will join their opponents on 44 points if they manage to do the double over Guus Hiddink’s underperforming Chelsea.
As usual, Bournemouth will be relying on top scorer Josh King to provide the bite in attack, although Callum Wilson could be making his return to the first team following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
If he does, Chelsea would to well to keep the lively young forward in-check. Charlie Daniels, the club’s top goal-provider, will also no-doubt play a key role for the Cherries.
Diego Costa has had only one match in which to play himself into form after serving a three-game ban. That fixture was Chelsea’s disastrous encounter with Manchester City last week.
It does seem unlikely that Costa will have two consecutive matches without making some kind of impact. Bournemouth will need to keep this in mind.
Midfielder Pedro was the last Chelsea player to score a Premiership goal, something he did twice in their 4 – 0 hammering of Aston Villa three months ago.
The Cherries haven’t drawn a match since playing Watford in mid-February, after which they went on a three-match winning run.
It’s been slightly tougher going for Eddie Howe’s men since their loss to Spurs four matches ago. Since then they have only managed to win one.
“Psychologically, it has been difficult with the outside world telling everybody that we are safe and I think that has had an impact on just a small percentage of how they (the players) are viewing the game,” said Howe about Saturday’s match.
“We were playing games like our lives depended on it all through the season, then suddenly I think it is very natural that when people say you have achieved your objective, the psychology is that you drop your level, a very small percentage.”
“We haven’t talked about a top-10 finish, just about this game and making sure we give our best and every effort we have to try to get a result,” he said.
Chelsea are, even by this season’s standards, in a very poor vein of form. Their worst, in fact, since the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
Including their last two FA Cup and Champions League encounters, the Londoners have lost 4 of their last 6 matches, winning only one.
Hiddink was pressed to discuss the controversial goal which saw his side lose to the Cherries in the reverse fixture.
“I don’t want to complain, but you brought it up: it was an offside goal,” he said.
“I was watching (thinking) ‘how is it possible?’ Chelsea being champions, losing, with all respect, to a club that had just come up to the Premier League.”
Bournemouth are still missing a number of squad players with Benik Afobe (hamstring), Harry Arter (Achilles), Tyrone Mings (knee) and Adam Smith (hernia) all still sidelined.
Good news for the hosts is that Callum Wilson is likely to make his first start since September.
Chelsea will be without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was sent off in the Manchester City match last week. The Blues will also still be missing John Terry (Achilles), Kurt Zouma (knee) and Loic Remy (groin).
Eden Hazard is expected to play a role in the match after returning to training recently.