Pulisic struggles, but Chelsea beat Bournemouth

Having previously gone without a win in their past five Premier League matches, Chelsea enjoyed a 2-0 victory against AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in the Blues’ return from the World Cup break.

Chelsea got on the front foot in the 16th minute when a sweeping move culminated in Kai Havertz converting from Raheem Sterling’s perfectly weighted pass. Eight minutes later, Mason Mount provided a second goal with a superb finish.

Christian Pulisic had a goal ruled out before half-time, but the two early goals decided the result as Chelsea put in a positive display that saw the Blues move up a place to go eighth on the Premier League table.

Positives

Chelsea asserted themselves on the game almost immediately and, after having gone five Premier League matches without scoring in the first half, they had two goals within 24 minutes.

There was a lot of quality on the ball for manager Graham Potter to be pleased about, and his side also often pressed well. They continued to impress as they largely dominated the second half, even if they didn’t add another goal, while there was also defensive solidity in the periods they were put under pressure.

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Negatives

The big worry was that the Blues sloppily conceded the ball in dangerous positions, which didn’t prove costly on this occasion but will need to be cut out when they face Manchester City twice in early January.

Chelsea will also be massively disappointing to see Reece James go off injured, and Potter would have liked a second-half goal to remove any doubt, with Chelsea’s set-pieces often proving disappointing.

Manager rating (out of 10)

Graham Potter, 8 — Potter’s side looked well organized after the World Cup break, and he will likely be pleased about their overall performance. With Mateo Kovacic not yet back in Chelsea action after being with Croatia, the decision to play Denis Zakaria in midfield paid off.

Player ratings (1-10 with 10 = best)

GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 7 — Put in a decisive display, smashing the ball away following a poor pass back from Kalidou Koulibaly, changing things up as he was often composed with the ball at his feet. Gathered Jaidon Anthony’s deflected shot from range well.

DF Thiago Silva, 7 — On his 100th Chelsea appearance, the Brazilian was visibly struggling with an injury in the very early stages, although he carried on to move the ball well, despite playing one poor pass that was cut out in his box. Got across well to stop Dominic Solanke, then did well to cut out Zemura’s late cross.

DF Kalidou Koulibaly, 6 — Put in some well-timed challenges, although he got away with two poor passes in dangerous positions. Made a great header to clear Zemura’s cross, then came agonizingly close with a header of his own.

DF Marc Cucurella, 8 — Overcooked an early free kick from a promising position, but went on to show plenty of quality on the ball. Provided a solid defensive display and did brilliantly to flick the ball away from Jack Stacey in his own box.

DF Reece James, 8 — Scuffed his early shot after an inventive corner, but continued to get forward and provided real quality with his crossing. Had a good shot saved after he beat Jordan Zemura in the box.

MF Jorginho, 7 — Played a nice pass to Mount in the buildup to the opener and often moved the ball well in the middle of the pitch, while also positioning himself well to regain possession.

MF Mason Mount, 9 — Showed plenty of intelligence to pick up nice pockets of space and utilize them brilliantly. Released Sterling in the build-up to the opener, then scored Chelsea’s second with an exquisite finish having done superbly to keep the move alive. Had a shot saved after a brilliant burst forward.

MF Denis Zakaria, 8 — Has had to wait for his Premier League debut but put in a brilliant performance full of energy, putting in some great defensive work as he notably challenged Zemura in his own box. Couldn’t quite apply the finish when a couple of chances came his way in the second half.

FW Kai Havertz, 9 — Mistimed his header after a nice Cucurella cross, but soon got his goal by applying a clinical finish to Sterling’s delivery. Looked strong while also providing quality, as was encapsulated when he gave Mount a nice lay-off for his goal, while he even defended well from corners. Cut inside Lloyd Kelly well but dragged his shot comfortably wide.

FW Christian Pulisic, 6 — Often looked frustrated as he fired wide after having his shirt pulled by Adam Smith, then had a goal ruled out after Havertz was deemed to have fouled Smith. Made a poor attempt at a flick after Travers saved James’ shot, then hit a wild effort from a promising position in the second half.

FW Raheem Sterling, 8 — Provided plenty of energy and quality on the right, notably linking up well with James. Delivered a perfectly weighted pass for Havertz to score the opener and was denied by a strong left hand from Mark Travers. Did superbly to pick out Zakaria in the second half, although some of his set-piece deliveries were disappointing.

Substitutes (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

C├ęsar Azpilicueta (James, 53′), 6 — Comfortably slotted into the backline, heading back to Kepa from a potentially dangerous Bournemouth ball, although there were times he struggled when Bournemouth ran at him. Delivered a pinpoint cross for Koulibaly’s chance. Used his experience to help run down the clock.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Pulisic, 82″), N/R — Played one nice ball through but then had another attempted burst forward denied by Marcos Senesi.

Conor Gallagher (Zakaria, 82″), N/R — Had his shot blocked by Kelly after a brilliant opportunity opened up for him.

Trevoh Chalobah (Sterling, 88″), N/R — Was solid to help see out the game as he smashed the ball clear.

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