Chelsea play Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge tonight in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. Here are some of the talking points ahead of the tie.
Which Chelsea will turn up?
Chelsea shocked Premier League champions Manchester City 2-0 10 days ago and their performances have been as mixed as their results. Even before Tottenham ended the Blues’ 18-match unbeaten run last month, Maurizio Sarri expressed reservations about his players’ performances and he will hope to see their best against Bournemouth.
Chelsea and Bournemouth met at the same stage of the competition almost exactly a year ago. On December 20, 2017, Bournemouth thought they had forced extra time – no longer an option this season as drawn games go straight to penalties – when Dan Gosling scored in the 90th minute, only for Alvaro Morata to score Chelsea’s second from the restart.
Chelsea boss Sarri made 10 changes for Chelsea’s Europa League tie last midweek, but with the opportunity for the first silverware of the season coming close, will he stick by the likes of Eden Hazard? If the Italian bids to keep his preferred Premier League players fresh, the game would represent another opportunity for the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Cesc Fabregas to press their claims for more regular action.
The Cherries have one win in seven Premier League games since their defeat of Championship high-flyers Norwich in the last round of the League Cup in late October. After a strong start to the season, the visitors will hope a positive performance and good result at Chelsea can reverse their poor run.
The behaviour of a minority of Chelsea’s supporters has been under scrutiny of late. Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police launched investigations after the alleged racist abuse of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, while the club condemned anti-Semitic chanting heard during the Europa League win over Vidi in Budapest. The Blues will hope to avoid any repeat.