Pedro makes the breakthrough as Chelsea maintain perfect start
Chelsea maintained their 100 percent Premier League record under new manager Maurizio Sarri with a gritty 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday over a resilient Bournemouth side who proved a tough nut to crack on the Blues home turf.
After a frustrating first half in which Sarri's side dominated possession, two well-taken goals in the final phase of the game -- the first by substitute Pedro, the second by Eden Hazard -- settled matters. Three points were just reward for Chelsea's endeavours, and the London club head into the international break in good shape with morale buoyant and much to look forward to.
If the matches against Bournemouth and Newcastle are anything to go by, Chelsea are going to find more teams they face set up to defend against their much vaunted high-press "Sarri-ball" tactics. The fact that once again persistence paid off as the Blues chipped away diligently until they found a way to score without compromising on their effervescent style of play deserves high praise indeed, and a first clean sheet since the season opener at Huddersfield is laudable too.
Chelsea rode their luck when attacks broke down, and playing the high line they were caught square looking very narrow at the back. A more clinical side than Bournemouth would have capitalised on the possession won in several such phases of play.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Sarri has certainly got Chelsea playing the way he wants them to, and after just four games his side has a very stable, balanced look about it, which is admirable considering his still short tenure as manager. The Italian made the right calls in respect of his substitutions. Olivier Giroud for Alvaro Morata and Pedro for Willian certainly helped tip the scales crucially in the Blues' favour.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 -- Didn't have a save to make in 90 minutes. Positioned himself well at set pieces and generally looked confident. Distribution remains an area that needs to be addressed, with many clearances looking ill timed and poorly judged.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 -- Defensively solid and dependable as captain, Azpilicueta saw plenty of the ball advancing down the right flank and was able to offer Morata several teasing crosses, but Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic made a habit of getting first to the ball.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 7 -- Cut an imposing and mobile figure at the back for Chelsea and was first to the ball as required, particularly when defending set pieces.
DF David Luiz, 6 -- Luiz was clearly targeted by Bournemouth when they had the opportunity to counter-attack and at times he looked nervous in possession, waywardly passing the ball, particularly in the first half. Looked more settled after the break but remains perhaps the key concern at the back, certainly for Chelsea supporters if not Sarri.
DF Marcos Alonso, 8 -- Alonso continues to fend off those critics who say he cannot defend in Sarri's system. A clean sheet and an unflappable performance can only continue to build the Spaniard's confidence in this respect. Further forward, the post denied him a goal and he was instrumental in initiating Pedro's strike that broke the deadlock and provided the assist for Hazard to wrap up the points.
MF Jorginho, 7 -- Jorginho is the beating heart of Chelsea's midfield. Delightful touches on the ball and inch-perfect floated passes forward, which against Bournemouth deserved more accomplished finishing, typified his game.
MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- There is no getting away from the fact that in Sarri's system, Kante is going to be deployed in a more advanced role and the France international who won the World Cup with his country playing in what used to be his customary deeper-lying midfield position with Chelsea is still getting used to the new way of working. Effective in parts of the game, but still adapting to the new style of play and it showed.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 8 -- Bristled with tigerish ball-winning energy and linked up well with Jorginho and Hazard to pose a constant threat to Bournemouth when on the ball.
FW Willian, 7 -- Selected to start ahead of Pedro, worked hard along with Alonso, Kovacic and Hazard to try to find a way through Bournemouth's back line, but ultimately was unable to do so. Withdrawn by Sarri in the 65th minute.
FW Eden Hazard, 8 -- Posed a constant threat to Bournemouth's back line and showed that he is now fully fit holding up the ball well when challenged for the duration of the contest. Hazard's hard work was rewarded with a neat goal following great interplay with Alonso.
FW Alvaro Morata, 6 -- A disappointing afternoon for Morata, who held the ball up well but failed to position himself to make the most of the crosses into the box. Replaced by Giroud on the hour.
FW Olivier Giroud 7 -- Provided Chelsea with a more combative presence up front than Morata, set up fellow sub Pedro for the Blues' opener and defended stoutly as required. Showed enough to suggest he may earn a start next time out.
FW Pedro, 8 -- Made the vital breakthrough for Chelsea with a well-taken strike and linked up well with Giroud to create Bournemouth problems.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, NR -- Replaced Kovacic for the final 10 minutes of the game and brought fresh legs and impetus to Chelsea's midfield.