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Preview: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, lineups and all the build-up to Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final between Chelsea and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge.

Cup competitions have become more important to Chelsea with the Premier League title seemingly out of reach, but given that the club are still fighting on all fronts, manager Antonio Conte is expected to ring the changes for Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final against Bournemouth.

The Cherries travel to Stamford Bridge on the back of a poor run in the top flight and the chance to reach the semi-finals will be hugely appealing, but the club's desire to avoid relegation is expected to take priority.


Chelsea

Antonio Conte gives instructions during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea on November 25, 2017© Offside

Manchester City's unbeaten league campaign has been dominating the back pages, but Chelsea are also having a positive run having lost just once in their last 10 top-flight outings.

As it stands, the club are third in the standings, three points behind Manchester United and 14 adrift of Pep Guardiola's high-flying City.

The West London outfit have been easy on the eye at times, but they failed to set the world alight at the weekend when they sneaked to a 1-0 victory over Southampton on home soil.

Eden Hazard is the star of the show at Chelsea, and it is beginning to be the case that when the Belgian is not on top form, the rest of the team struggle to play at their best level.

In terms of cup competitions, Conte's men still have the FA Cup to contend with and they are in with a shout of Champions League glory, but they have the unenviable task of taking on Spanish giants Barcelona in the round of 16.

The EFL Cup does not usually take priority for the so-called bigger clubs, but claiming the first trophy of the season provides a huge confidence boost heading into the second half of the campaign.

Chelsea have won the EFL Cup five times, the most recent of which was in the 2014-15 season when they defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 to take the trophy.

To get to the 2017-18 quarter-finals, the Blues had to take on Nottingham Forest and Everton, both of whom they defeated 5-1 and 2-1 respectively.

The West London outfit will face Everton again on Saturday, but this time at Goodison Park in the Premier League, and Conte is bound to have one eye on that encounter, especially now that the Toffees have had an upturn in form.

Recent form (all competitions): WWDLWW


Bournemouth

Eddie Howe watches his side go down again during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Bournemouth on October 14, 2017© SilverHub

Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe admitted to reporters after his side's 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday that he did not want to play the Reds again "anytime soon", and it is understandable why.

The team were played off the park by Jurgen Klopp's scintillating attacking stars, but the Cherries will need to get that match out of their systems quickly if they want to cause an upset to Chelsea.

Conte is likely to rest players, which will give Bournemouth a better chance of victory at the Bridge, but with a relegation battle looming in the background, the coastal club cannot afford to let their focus on the Premier League slip.

After Sunday's defeat, the team sit just one point above the bottom three and they have only managed to pick up three points from a possible 18 in their last six league fixtures.

In fact, the Cherries have not secured a win since their 4-0 drubbing of Huddersfield Town on November 18.

Goals have been hard to come by for Bournemouth as they have managed just four in their last six games and 15 in 18 top-flight encounters this season.

In the EFL Cup, the Cherries overcame Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Middlesbrough to reach the quarter-finals, but taking on Chelsea will be a completely different animal, even if Conte does field his second-string side.

Bournemouth have never won the EFL Cup before, and last season they were knocked out by Preston North End in a 3-2 defeat in the early rounds of the competition.

Recent form (all competitions): DLDDLL


Team News

Michy Batshuayi nabs the second during the EFL Cup game between Chelsea and Nottingham Forest on September 20, 2017© SilverHub

Conte has already admitted that he is planning to give some of his fringe players a run-out against Bournemouth, which means that Michy Batshuayi is likely to start.

The Belgian has struggled to cement a spot in the first team having started just two Premier League games, but he has managed to score three goals in the EFL Cup so far in this campaign.

Marcos Alonso is ineligible to play on Wednesday evening due to suspension after picking up a fifth yellow card during Saturday's league match against Southampton, in which he scored the only goal.

David Zappacosta could be in line to replace the Spaniard at wing-back, while Danny Drinkwater and Pedro could also start, but Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois are likely to be rested.

As for the visiting side, Howe has no fresh injury concerns and he could field a relatively strong side, with just a few alterations in order to cope with the busy upcoming schedule.

Bournemouth have a clash against the seemingly unstoppable Manchester City at the weekend, so the manager cannot take too many risks with his team selection on Wednesday.

Tyrone Mings, Adam Federici and Brad Smith will all be out of contention due to injuries.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Rudiger, Ampadu, Cahill; Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Kenedy; Pedro, Batshuayi, Willian

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Begovic: Smith, S. Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, L. Cook, Surman, Stanislas; King; Defoe


Head To Head

As expected, Chelsea have the better record when it comes to meetings between these two sides, having won eight of their last nine matches against the Cherries.

Bournemouth's solitary win in that time came at Stamford Bridge in 2015 in the form of a 1-0 triumph thanks to an 82nd-minute goal from Glenn Murray.

The clubs have met just once before in the EFL Cup, with Chelsea winning the second-round tie 2-0 on aggregate in the 1994-95 season.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Chelsea 2-0 Bournemouth

Even though Conte is expected to tinker with his team and field fringe players, Chelsea should still have enough to defeat a Bournemouth side low in confidence. With the daunting task of taking on Man City being just around the corner for Howe's men, their priority is staying in the Premier League, so a cup exit would not be the end of the world.



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A triumphant Eddie Howe after the Premier League game between Stoke City and Bournemouth on October 21, 2017
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United StatesUnited States22251764
JapanJapan1761033
AustraliaAustralia1441533
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Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events


DIVING
· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

ATHLETICS
· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

SAILING
· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

FOOTBALL
· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

CYCLING
· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

BOXING
· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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