Bournemouth vs Chelsea preview, betting tips and prediction: Blues to edge past Cherries despite Kante absence

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Chelsea to win in both halves @ 6/4 with Bet365

Chelsea to win 2-1 @ 8/1 with Bet365

Chelsea to win and BTTS @ 11/5 with Bet365

Since Chelsea won the Premier League title last May, life has not been too easy for Antonio Conte. His side’s defence got off to the worst possible start when they lost at home to Burnley on the opening day and further defeats to leaders Manchester City and bottom club Crystal Palace have left them way off the pace.

Injuries to Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante have not helped the Blue cause; Morata has now recovered from his hamstring trouble and Michy Batshuayi scored two against Watford last week, but Conte never truly trusted the Belgian so the team struggled without their record signing. Kante’s absence, still ongoing, has perhaps been even more frustrating, because without the Frenchman, the 3-4-3 system that won them the title and looked so solid last season has seemed anything but recently.

They travel to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday to face Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s side are slowly recovering from a poor start to the season themselves, but a 2-1 win at Stoke last week has still not been enough to take them out of the relegation zone. They will play with a lot of energy and will cause a static Chelsea midfield some problems, but their issue will be keeping the likes of Pedro and Eden Hazard, who have both been in goalscoring form of late, quiet on the counter attack. The sale of Nemanja Matic to Manchester United has seemed like a poor decision since Kante got injured, because it has restricted the freedom afforded to Cesc Fabregas, but the Spaniard will still play a crucial role in starting Chelsea attacks with forward passes or penetrative runs.

Games against Roma and Watford, let alone those recent losses, have cast doubt over the solid style of Conte’s previously taken for granted. Bournemouth will be able to cause problems with the pace of Josh King and Junior Stanislas and will be able to find pockets of space in behind the wingbacks. Backing them to score is not a bad idea, with decent value there. They may even be worth a look for a draw at 3/1, but we recommend looking at BTTS in a Chelsea win 11/5, a 2-1 away win at 8/1 or Conte’s men to win in both halves at 6/4.

Key battle: Harry Arter vs Cesc Fabregas

When at his best, Cesc Fabregas blends technique with intelligence high up the pitch. He can score goals and wrack up assists, but such is Conte’s philosophy, he has been withdrawn next to Tiemoue Bakayoko in the absence of Kante. He becomes less effective in this role and that has had an adverse effect, but spaces appear for the opposition otherwise. It shows just why Kante is such a big miss.

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But, he remains the chief midfield threat. Not many teams will attempt to go toe to toe for the control of a game, but Bournemouth will and Harry Arter is the man they will look to. Since Jack Wilshere’s loan ended from Arsenal, Arter’s role has changed slightly and he has played a little further forward. The wide areas will be crucial too, but the base of victory for any team will be in midfield.

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