Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Chelsea's Pedro gives Cherries a bruising on Boxing Day

Match Report
Chelsea 3 v 0 AFCB
26 December 2016
Attendance: 41,384
We were at the league leaders and boy did they want to shout about it.
It was always going to be a big ask to go to Chelsea and stop their unbeaten record and while the Cherries were brushed aside by Pedro's deadly finishing, it was a markedly improved AFCB performance than the derby day defeat. AFCB matched Chelsea in the opening minutes but fell behind to a sublime turn and lofted shot from Pedro on 24 minutes. The top left corner of the goal was found and AFCB's day immediately became 10 times harder. Chelsea only had to wait a few minutes into the second half before they could comfortably pocket the points. Simon Francis brought down the evasive Pedro and Eden Hazard doubled the lead by sending Boruc the wrong way. While Courtois' right foot kept substitute Benik Afobe's goal-bound effort out, the game was wrapped up by a late Pedro breakaway and a deflected goal to further sour AFCB's Boxing Day.
Andrew Surman was back in the starting line up.
The team news brought a big make over for AFCB. The side was to line up with three at the back. In came Brad Smith at left midfield and Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman added weight to the centre midfield, while Josh King was to lead the attack.

Chelsea added Cesc Fabregas to their midfield and Pedro to their attack to deputise for the suspended Diego Costa and and N'Golo Kanté.
AFCB were ready for the big test and to play three at the back.
Chelsea were super confident even without a couple of their stars.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

The early warning signs were their for the Cherries. A quickly taken free-kick saw Simon Francis have to react speedily to clear before Pedro nipped in on goal. A lively first few minutes also saw Adam Smith go down in the box but all a little too easily. 

The game was quick and furious. But Bournemouth were keeping their shape well and defending stoutly, Jack Wilshere perhaps a bit too vigorously as he picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Hazard. It was Eden Hazard who then got the first shot on goal, but Artur Boruc was equal to it - dropping of the ball to his left.
Chelsea were using Moses on their right wing well, but it was Pedro that was causing the headaches by drifting in and out of gaps around AFCB's back line. He shot right across the box on 21 minutes and was eager to shoot on sight. He was not to be denied for very long. After a short corner the ball was spread to Fabregas who picked Pedro out. The forward turned neatly in the box to fire a curling shot past a couple of defenders and Boruc, right into the top left corner of the goal.

AFCB had been playing well but could do little about that. Adam Smith and Gosling were fashioning a reply when Wilshere hit a shot that was well saved by Courtois. Jack got held his ankles for the first of many times during the game, but he carried on.

Boruc then reacted well to tip over a top from Hazard, even though play was brought back for an offside. This was a good period of the game for AFCB with Wilshere having another shot somehow blocked and cleared off the line. Adam Smith went down in the box, but again it was no penalty.

Chelsea only came back stronger winning a corner and Gosling's poor challenge on Hazard gave Fabregas a chance to shoot from a free-kick just outside the D. Luckily he shot over the wall and the corner of the goal.

Steve Cook was back to his best in getting across to tackle Hazard before he could shoot. Wilshere was also playing well and was making penetrating runs only for Cahill to take him down. Adam Smith took the free-kick and smashed it straight into the wall, leaving AFCB trailing 1-0 at half time.
AFCB were only 1-0 down.
Junior and Callum at half time.
Second Half
AFCB put Chelsea under a bit of pressure from the start of the half with King making it hard for Chelsea to play out and Courtois sliced a clearance high into the stands. Once up the other end though, Pedro was away again and Francis mistimed his challenge and referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot. It was easy for Hazard to send Boruc the wrong way and the Cherries were 2-0 down on 49 minutes.

It was very much the worst time to concede as AFCB had very little to build on now. Gosling was making more mistakes and Boruc was pleased to see an effort from Hazard driven low past his right post. The attacks from Chelsea kept coming now. Willian pulled out a save from Boruc before Victor Moses hit a shot wide.

Artur was still trying to escape Chelsea midfielders but was eventually caught by Pedro who ended up in the book.

After Pedro led another break that saw his shot go wide, Eddie Howe subbed Andrew Surman for Junior Stanislas and Josh King for Benik Afobe on 67 minutes. It was Chelsea that were fully in control though and Hazard almost got another when Steve Cook for once slipped and Hazard got his shot away, and saw it glance of Gosling's arm. It was not handball, but just as well Gosling was in the way.

Wilshere had fresh legs ahead of him now with Afobe on the pitch and he picked him out well for the former-Wolves striker to cut inside and fire a shot across the goal that Courtois' flung his right foot out at and diverted it from giving AFCB a foothold in the game on 73 minutes.

Chelsea could afford to be a bit wasteful as Hazard hit another high shot over the bar. At the other end though when Wilshere had sight of goal he chipped the ball straight out with disappointment and dismay from AFCB's fans. The final sub of Jordan Ibe was introduced for the hard working Brad Smith on 76 minutes, even if the game looked beyond AFCB.

Willian was subbed after a fine performance and was replaced by Nathaniel Chalobah on 83 minutes. The game was still intense and Chelsea were being kept honest even if Moses was not to distressed to see his effort fire wide. Moses came off in the 89th minute for Ola Aina to come on. His best contribution was to speed up the right wing only to stumble over the ball before leaving it for Jordan Ibe to recover - at least it gave AFCB fans something to laugh about.

Three minutes of added time only made the score line worse. Jordan Ibe had been added late to the game, and was not quite settled, running straight into Pedro. The break Pedro was marshalled by Francis and Arter, but they could't get near him. Pedro cut in between them and fired a shot that came off of Steve Cook to leave Boruc stranded, as the score ticked over to 3-0. There was just enough time for Batshuati to run on the pitch before the final whistle was blown.
Junior and Harry thanks the fans.
It was a fairly routine game for a Chelsea side that had now recorded their biggest sequence of undefeated games. AFCB still have much work to do in getting back to clean sheets and there was a kind of inevitability about the end result as soon as AFCB had gone 1-0 down. It was more a question of how many do you think we will concede? Still, their were some brave performances and it was pleasing to see Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas return to the field. Now Eddie Howe has to find some positivity to take into the Swansea game, as AFCB were well-beaten here.
Benik came close to giving AFCB a goal.
    Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Moses (Aina 90), Fàbregas, Matic, Alonso,
    Willian (Chalobah 83), Hazard (Batshuayi 90+4), Pedro

    Chelsea Subs
    Begovic, Ivanovic, Zouma, Loftus-Cheek, Batshuayi, Chalobah, Aina
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Daniels, A Smith, Gosling, Surman (Stanislas 66), Arter
Smith (Ibe 77), Wilshere, King (Afobe 67)

Federici, Mings, Afobe, Wilson, Ibe, Stanislas, Fraser

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 7, Francis 5, Cook 8, Daniels 6, A Smith 5, Gosling 4, Surman 6 (Stanislas 5), Arter 6,
B Smith 7 (Ibe 5), Wilshere 7, King 6 (Afobe 6)

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