Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea look to build on momentum following victories in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup as the Blues travel to Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s last outing in the league was a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, but with two consecutive domestic cup victories under their belt, Sarri’s men look to be in full flow against Eddie Howe’s side.
Bournemouth will go into this game in stuttering form, having won one, drawn one and last one in their last three league games.
Courtesy of average match ratings provided by WhoScored.com, we have taken a look at the best performers between the two sides in England’s top-flight this season.
Goalkeeper: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) 6.61
The search for a replacement to the recently departed Thibaut Courtois did not take as long as first thought. Kepa Arrizabalaga has gone a long way in his short time at Stamford Bridge to help supporters forget the Belgian World Cup semi-finalist.
His recent heroics in the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur all but cemented his place as a fan favourite at the club. Kepa is level with Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson with 10 clean sheets and only three behind Liverpool’s Alisson (13).
Right-back: Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth) 6.97
It hasn’t taken long for Jefferson Lerma to establish himself as an important figure in Bournemouth’s impressive season so far. His arrival from Spanish side Levante for a club-record transfer fee hasn’t weighed on the Colombian’s shoulders.
Despite featuring in a position in our side where he has briefly played for Levante and with Atletico Huila, playing as a natural central-midfielder in England, Lerma has won an impressive 26 tackles and has made 36 interceptions in 1,562 minutes of Premier League action this season.
Centre-back: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea) 7.01
It seems like a far cry away since Cesar Azpilicueta was plying his trade as a right-sided centre-back, but this is where the Spaniard fits in this side.
The ever-consistent stalwart bleeds blue and it shows in his desirable performances at right-back this season. The 29-year-old vice-captain has made an average of 2.7 successful tackles and 1.8 clearances per match this season.
Centre-back: David Luiz (Chelsea) 7.23
In his two spells at the Bridge, there has been no changing to David Luiz’s character which rubs off on the pitch. The Brazilian has proved his versatility under Sarri, having had to adapt from playing in a back five to a back four. Luiz is showing his worth as an integral part this season’s potential success.
In 22 appearances, Luiz has averaged 4.5 clearances per outing. As well as his defensive element, his range of passing has been vital. The Brazilian has made 1,555 accurate passes so far this campaign.
Left-back: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) 7.11
Competition for this position has suddenly sparked into life following Emerson’s recent performance in the Carabao Cup. However, it will be an arduous task to budge Marcos Alonso.
Even though he is still to fully adapt to a more defensive role, the Spaniard’s attacking prowess is still vital to the system. The 28-year-old has attempted a staggering 34 shots on goal from left-back this season.
Centre-midfield: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) 6.98
N’Golo Kante has had his critics since the start of the campaign. His change to a more advanced midfield role has brought cause for concern, but his recent performances have seen him add goals and creativity to his game, putting all concern on hold.
The tenacious engine has scored three Premier League goals and has provided 27 key passes in 23 appearances in the competition this term.
Attacking-midfield: Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth) 7.0
Ryan Fraser joins opponent Hazard in providing an attack-minded midfield in this side. Naturally, a winger by trade, the pace and technical ability of the Scotsman would be sure to cause opposition nightmares alongside the Belgian wizard.
Bournemouth’s Scottish 24-year-old has attempted 30 direct dribbles, with 13 of them being successful and his nine assists make him the joint-second most creative player this season.
Attacking-midfield: Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 7.75
Stamford Bridge’s jewel in the Chelsea crown is undoubtedly Eden Hazard. The Belgian superstar is arguably having one of his greatest seasons in South West London. But performances have stalled as of late, due to the change to an unfamiliar false nine role.
The arrival of striker Gonzalo Higuain from Juventus, however, should restore order in South West London. The winger is the Blues’ top goalscorer this season with 10 league goals, which is a decent return considering he has attempted 58 shots on goal.
Right-wing: Pedro (Chelsea) 7.08
Following Callum Hudson-Odoi’s arrival into Chelsea’s spotlights, there has been added pressure on the likes of Pedro and Willian to perform, especially with Pedro’s age not being on his side.
However, the Spanish winger has shown no signs of slowing down with his performances on and off the bench proving that statement. Pedro has attempted an average of 1.9 dribbles per match in 1,494 minutes on the pitch, with a completion average of 1.4 across his 19 appearances.
Striker: Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) 6.98
Chelsea’s search for a striker was drifting towards Bournemouth forward Callum Wilson before finally signing Higuain on loan.
Amid the apparent interest from the Blues, Wilson was putting on displays worthy of the blue shirt, which is why it comes to no surprise that Eddie Howe values the hitman at £50 million. Along with Hazard, Wilson has also scored 10 goals in the league this season and has attempted 44 shots in total.
Left-wing: Willian (Chelsea) 7.16
Sarri has time and time again stressed the importance of the Brazilian. Following interest from Barcelona, fans can rest easy knowing that Willian is more than likely to stay at the club for the foreseeable future.
Willian is known to have the ball as close to his feet as possible and this is proven with 49 attempted dribbles in total, with 34 of them being successful.
By Darion Westwood