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Dec 19, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge (London)
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Preview: Chelsea vs. Bournemouth - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final clash between Chelsea and Bournemouth.

Chelsea head into Wednesday's EFL Cup quarter-final tie with Bournemouth on the back of a hard-fought win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League at the weekend.

However, Bournemouth have lost six of their last seven games and manager Eddie Howe will be keen to end that run ahead of a tough run of fixtures during the Christmas period.


Maurizio Sarri on the touchline during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on November 4, 2018© Reuters

Chelsea have been far from convincing since returning to action after the November international break, but Maurizio Sarri's side remain in the top four of the Premier League table and have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Italian can also guide his team to a place in the last four of the EFL Cup with victory on Wednesday night, but the recently-appointed boss will acknowledge that the Blues are still falling short of the standards expected of them.

There is an argument that Chelsea have not delivered a convincing performance in a meaningful game since the 4-0 demolition of Burnley on October 28, but that may change as Sarri tinkers with his team over a hectic period.

The former Napoli chief has handed starts to just 17 different players in the Premier League this season, and squad members will be keen to use games such as the one this week to stake their claim for an outing in the top flight.

Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata are aware that they must improve in the final third, although the former will point to the fact that three goals have come from his last two outings in Europe.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley both find themselves in the position of needing more starts, despite doing all of what has been asked of them in their rotational roles over the past four months.

Emerson Palmieri will hope that a strong showing in this game can lead to more outings over the coming weeks, but it remains to be seen whether Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi will be given an appearance in this fixture.

The pair both featured in Chelsea's final two group games in the Europa League, but Sarri has held each youngster back for the ties with Liverpool and Derby County earlier in this competition.

However, that approach suggests that Sarri has ambitions to win this trophy, and with a team full of players keen to make an impression, it is difficult to back against the West Londoners reaching the semi-finals.

Recent form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWDW


Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe applauds his side on December 4, 2018© Reuters

Bournemouth have been flying high in the top half of the Premier League table for the opening four months of the campaign, but a disappointing run of results have left Howe's men in 11th place.

The Cherries boss has remained positive in the media when asked about his side's form, but there will be concern that an excellent start to the season will be undone by the turn of the year.

Bournemouth are still just three points off sixth-placed Manchester United, although trips to Tottenham Hotspur and United are still to come during the final weeks of 2018.

That double-header places more emphasis on registering a positive result against Chelsea, and getting back to winning ways is as much of a priority as reaching the last four of a cup competition.

Bournemouth had performed relatively well in the EFL Cup since their promotion to the Premier League three-and-a-half years ago, but they are yet to make that step past the last eight and emerging victorious on Wednesday evening would break new ground.

The draw has been kind to the south coast outfit, with home victories coming against lower-league opposition in each of their previous three ties, although late goals were required to get past Blackburn Rovers and Norwich City respectively.

Injuries will prevent Howe from being able to rotate his squad like in previous rounds, however, and that could prove to be a blessing in disguise as he looks for a response to Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Howe will still have one eye on an important home showdown with Brighton & Hove Albion at the weekend, but expect a strong showing from the visitors as they look to avoid extending their dismal run.

Recent form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): LLLWLL

Team News

Eden Hazard flashes a smile prior to the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester City on December 8, 2018© Reuters

Sarri may decide against taking any kind of a risk with Eden Hazard, who sustained a minor knock during Sunday's victory at Brighton.

Victor Moses and Morata are also huge fitness doubts, but Sarri will still be able to make widespread alterations ahead of Saturday's Premier League fixture with Leicester City.

Gary Cahill could return after a recent injury to take his place in a much-changed back four, while Cesc Fabregas could feature in the centre of a midfield three which also includes Loftus-Cheek and Barkley.

Giroud should lead the line, but Sarri must decide whether to hand another start to Hudson-Odoi over either Willian or Pedro.

Adam Smith, Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling will all be missing for Bournemouth due to knee injuries, while Simon Francis and Tyrone Mings are recent additions to the treatment room.

Youngster Jack Simpson could feature in the squad should the pair not be available for Wednesday night, and Diego Rico, Marc Pugh and Lys Mousset are all in contention for starting roles.

Howe must also decide whether to risk Callum Wilson from the start after the forward's return from a minor injury at the weekend.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Caballero; Zappacosta, Christensen, Cahill, Palmieri; Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Barkley; Willian, Giroud, Pedro

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc; Simpson, S.Cook, Ake, Rico; Brooks, Surman, Lerma, Pugh; King; Mousset

Head To Head

Wednesday's fixture represents just the 14th competitive contest between the two clubs, with Chelsea registering 10 wins in comparison to three victories for Bournemouth.

Eight of those matches have taken place since December 2015, and Bournemouth have twice recorded a victory at Stamford Bridge during that period.

However, Chelsea prevailed by a 2-1 scoreline when the two teams met at this stage of the competition almost a year to the day of this week's encounter.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Chelsea 3-1 Bournemouth

Chelsea are likely to make more alterations than Bournemouth for this contest, but we still expect a Blues win. Many of Sarri's squad are match-fit due to the Europa League and they should be sharp enough to get the better of the Cherries.

Who will win Wednesday's EFL Cup tie between Chelsea and Bournemouth?

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Maurizio Sarri on the touchline during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Crystal Palace on November 4, 2018
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