English Premier League

Bournemouth v Chelsea: Back pressing war to yield goals

Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola
Andoni Iraola is still looking for his first league win as Bournemouth boss

It's been a slow start to the season for both Bournemouth and Chelsea, but Kevin Hatchard expects to be entertained by this south coast showdown.


Bournemouth v Chelsea
Sunday 17 September, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports

Iraola needs maiden win to build trust

Given that he took second-tier side Mirandes to the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, and then worked wonders on a limited budget with Rayo Vallecano, there's a body of evidence to suggest that Andoni Iraola's high-pressing football works. However, footballers can take a while to convince, especially if your methods are significantly different from your predecessor.

Bournemouth's decision to jettison Gary O'Neil in favour of Iraola makes a lot of sense on some levels, but to some people it seemed like a needlessly ruthless decision to axe a man who had fulfilled the brief he had been given. O'Neil was a popular figure, and while I gather Iraola has made a good impression with his manner, he needs wins to go with the warmth.

Bournemouth have collected just two points from their first four games, and although they were close to victory at Brentford, they had to settle for a 2-2 draw thanks to a late leveller from Brian Mbeumo. The Cherries have leaked eight goals across their first four league matches.

It's worth bearing in mind that a new tactical scheme takes time to implement, especially a complex one that involves plenty of smart work off the ball. Already you can see some positives. Compared to last season, Bournemouth are generating a higher xG per 90, having more touches in the opposition box and having more shots. Centre-forward Dominic Solanke has looked sharp, scoring a couple of Premier League goals already.

Summer signings Alex Scott and Tyler Adams are still absent from midfield because of injury, while exciting winger Dango Ouattara is still struggling with an ankle problem, but is at least back in training. Deadline-day signing Luis Sinisterra could make his debut, having been tempted away from Leeds United.

Chaotic Blues must turn the tide soon

It's fair to say that Mauricio Pochettino has more credit in the bank than Andoni Iraola because of his proven track record in the Premier League, but he faces a similar task to his Basque contemporary. A new style of play must be bedded in, with a host of new faces to somehow mould into a team. Chelsea's extreme approach to squad-building hasn't made that adaptation process any smoother.

Chelsea have won just one of their first four games of the top-flight season, and that was against a Luton Town side that many people expect to finish bottom of the league. The 1-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest before the international break was particularly galling, as Chelsea blew a host of good scoring opportunities.

Pochettino remains confident that things will turn around, and he does have one of the most extraordinary collections of young talent in world football.

However, in attack the west London side have left themselves reliant on Nicolas Jackson, a 22-year-old with a very short track record at this kind of level. The Senegal international has undoubted promise, but he has already missed some glaring opportunities, and it may take a while for his quality to really shine through.

Chelsea have been given a double boost on the injury front this week. Centre-back Benoit Badiashile is training after recovering from a thigh injury, while Armando Broja has returned to light action after ten months out with an ACL injury. Christopher Nkunku, Reece James, Romeo Lavia and Carney Chukwuemeka are all still out.

Visitors too short to be trusted

I can't get on board with Chelsea to win at 1.814/5. The Blues have won just six of their last 33 Premier League matches, and this still feels very much like a work in progress under Pochettino.

I am drawn to the idea of backing goals though. Chelsea's only clean sheet this term has come against Luton, while Bournemouth haven't managed one at all. Both teams are creating plenty of opportunities and are playing on the front foot whenever possible. Given that both managers like to press aggressively, we can expect space to open up for players who can find a way through that pressure.

We can back Over 2.5 Goals, BTTS and Over 6.5 Corners on the Sportsbook's Bet Builder at 11/102.11.

Back Over 2.5 Goals, BTTS and Over 6.5 Corners @ 11/102.11

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If you have been impressed by the form of Solanke and think he can give Chelsea's shaky rearguard a torrid time, it's worth considering backing the former Liverpool and Chelsea forward to score or assist at any time at 11/43.75, a price that's been enhanced from 2/13.00 on the Betfair OddsBoost.

Our friends at Opta tell us that Solanke has been involved in 16 league goals since the start of last season (8 goals and 8 assists).

Back Dominik Solanke to Score or Assist @ 11/43.75

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