Given that Bournemouth have a fine record against a lot of the top six late, Eddie Howe knows better than most about how to get the better of the top sides… and what separates them.
He says the biggest challenge when you face Chelsea is not when they’re ominously building play against you, but the opposite: when you have the ball.
Bournemouth did play well against the champions-elect and put it to them, but ultimately lost 3-1 on Saturday, with the two first goals coming from Chelsea breaks.
“They’re a tough team to score against, a tough team to get near their goal, to penetrate the centre of the pitch, because they have the five at the back,” Howe said. “That’s the challenge that they pose. The biggest difficulty when you play Chelsea is when you have the ball.
“Most teams you play against, you’re happy when you have the ball, but against Chelsea as soon as you lose the ball you’re in potential danger because of the players they have on the pitch. It’s a difficult game to prepare for.
“Their system obviously gives you a problem. To win any game you need the ball and to get the ball off them is quite difficult.
“And then of course you need to stop them scoring and we struggled with that – the first goal especially I thought was disappointing from our perspective, we were too passive with our defending and OK, they were slightly fortuitous with the way it ended up in the net but that was a consequence of the system.”