Harry Arter, Jack Wilshere impress but Bournemouth fall short vs. Chelsea
Bournemouth were in a strong position to cause an upset against league leaders Chelsea after picking up points at Manchester United and Liverpool away from home in their last five Premier League fixtures. However, it simply wasn't to be for Eddie Howe's men on a sunny south coast afternoon.
Harry Arter and Jack Wilshere were simply class in the centre of midfield. They completed 90 and 68 passes respectively compared to N'Golo Kante's 52, and saw more of the ball than the Premier League Player of the Season candidate with both players registering more touches. Arter and Wilshere also made the same number of tackles as Kante and Nemanja Matic combined.
Set pieces were Bournemouth's biggest downfall. Without Junior Stanislas, Bournemouth lacked any real class in that department as Ryan Fraser was predominantly put on free kick and corner duty to no real effect or danger. As always, the Cherries struggled with defending set pieces and gave away some unnecessary fouls in dangerous positions, with one leading to a Chelsea goal.
8 -- Howe was right to make one change to the side that claimed a draw at Anfield on Wednesday with Fraser coming in for Jordon Ibe, as the young Scot put in another eye-catching performance. Howe also deployed a more traditional 4-4-2 as opposed to the usual 4-4-1-1, which countered well against Chelsea's unorthodox formation.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Artur Boruc, 7 -- Another solid performance from Bournemouth's No. 1. Distribution was above average and there wasn't much he could have done for any of the three goals. Made a few important saves, punches and catches.
DF Adam Smith, 7 -- Seemed to contain Eden Hazard fairly well as Chelsea chose to dominate the left flank. Made some positive attacking runs but was occasionally caught out defensively and struggled with Chelsea counterattacks.
DF Steve Cook, 8 -- Would have scored higher if he didn't give away the foul for the third goal. Apart from that, he didn't put a foot wrong and made several crucial interceptions and clearances.
DF Simon Francis, 6 -- Pretty average display on the whole, although he was sloppy at times and possibly could have done more in defending Chelsea's first goal.
DF Charlie Daniels, 7 -- Just as in Bournemouth's League One and Championship days, Daniels linked up very nicely with Marc Pugh on the left. Put in a fantastic ball for Benik Afobe in the first half, who was very unlucky not to score.
MF Ryan Fraser, 9 -- Arguably the best player on the pitch, again. A crucial chess piece in Bournemouth's attacking play with his dangerous pace, solid crossing and clever passing. Expect clubs to be monitoring his situation in the summer.
MF Jack Wilshere, 8 -- Looks better, faster and stronger every week. Completed his 15th full game this season with a wide range of passing and darting runs which gave Bournemouth a spark going forward.
MF Harry Arter, 9 -- Once again gave his absolute everything and was another strong contender for Bournemouth's man of the match. It seemed almost every attacking ball went through him, and he won some important balls in Bournemouth's box and in the middle of the field.
MF Marc Pugh, 7 -- Clever trademark trickery down Bournemouth's left flank. Worked his socks off and allowed Daniels to get forward.
FW Josh King, 8 -- Got a tad lucky for the goal with his fierce shot taking a deflection, but his performance more than merited it. He gave Bournemouth hope going into the second half by reducing Chelsea's lead to one. Ten goals in 11 games for the Norwegian, who is on flames at the moment.
FW Benik Afobe, 8 -- Incredibly unfortunate not to score after netting at Liverpool in midweek. Led the line very well and his link-up play with King was delightful to watch.
MF - Jordon Ibe, N/R -- Made some clever runs and worked his way into Chelsea's box frequently with his lightning-fast speed. End product still needs a lot of work though.
MF - Lys Mousset, N/R -- Came on with just over 10 minutes to play and didn't see much of the ball at all. Needs more game time to develop.
MF - Max Gradel, N/R -- Came on for only 7 minutes but managed to pick up a yellow card. Seemed to get the better of Cesar Azpilicueta in the left corner flag.
Liam Grace is a blogger who covers AFC Bournemouth for ESPN UK and ESPN FC. Twitter: @LiamGraceESPN