It started with a cold message from Maurizio Sarri to a naughty boy and it ended with a louder one that Chelsea simply cannot be trusted to consistently deliver performances of even basic competence.
Whether it costs them a place in the top four remains to be seen. But judging from this game and so many others you have to wonder.
You have to doubt them, to doubt the strength of their minds under pressure, as Sarri so often has, and also doubt the strength of their manager’s system too. Both were picked apart here by a team used to taking a whipping off the bigger clubs.
Bournemouth attacker Joshua King celebrates after he opened the scoring against Chelsea early in the second half
The delighted Bournemouth players congratulate King after he scored his second goal of the game to make it 3-0
David Brooks celebrates following his goal in the 63rd minute, which doubled Bournemouth’s advantage against Chelsea
On that latter point, consider this statistic – Bournemouth had lost 10 consecutive league fixtures against the established top six since beating Chelsea 3-0 a year ago. Not just losses, they often get battered.
But in this one they slaughtered Chelsea, with all four goals coming in the second half. Josh King got two and David Brooks and Charlie Daniels got one apiece. And they could have had more. Really. It truly was a mauling, delivered in a game when Bournemouth gave up 70 per cent of possession and ripped Chelsea apart with counter-attacks.
On that note it was a repeat of the same old problem – when Chelsea are hit on the break, this midfield screen, with Jorginho at its base, isn’t up to it.
The Chelsea players are left dejected following Bournemouth’s fourth goal of the game
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who entered the fray as a substitute for Chelsea, cannot hide his disappointment after the game
Chelsea defender David Luiz is left disappointed after Chelsea fell to a 4-0 defeat away to Bournemouth
Brooks scores Bournemouth’s second goal with a well-struck effort after he was located by Joshua King
And too often it is their undoing, a problem at the root of so many peculiar dips in their results. They can play great football as we have seen. Indeed, they have just reached a cup final. But when it goes wrong, when their high octane system isn’t quite executed quite to perfection, it goes so, so badly awry.
They lose the ball and they lose the games. Chalk them up – three straight losses in away games in all competitions and no goals in that run is deeply troubling.
Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival ought to help on that front but currently the progress is slow. He looks off the pace and one statistic showed only one touch in Bournemouth’s area in the first hour. He needs to come good and soon.
King was delighted after his goal put Bournemouth in the ascendancy against the Blues
King showed impressive composure to open the scoring for Bournemouth against Chelsea just before half-time
Substitute Charlie Daniels managed to make it 4-0 in the closing stages shortly after he was introduced
Likewise, a resolution is needed to the Callum Hudson-Odoi situation. He was left out of the squad altogether here in what is understood to have been a punishment for his agitations to join Bayern Munich.
A very Chelsea sort of mess, you might say.
Eddie Howe has fewer luxuries with which to play his games. For this one he was forced by necessity to leave out Callum Wilson, a striker gifted with all manner of talent but no luck whatsoever.
Having worked up so much momentum in the wake of two cruciate injuries in the previous three seasons, he was ruled out of this match with the knee issue sustained against West Ham a fortnight ago. It is not nearly as serious as some he has suffered, but it was a concerning pre-match revelation that he underwent minor surgery this week and will miss most of February.
Despite his absence, Bournemouth were rampant and the hint of what was to come arrived in the first half. An element of that was down to the speed of their breaks; an equal contributor was Chelsea’s defence and the ineffectiveness of their midfield when facing those Bournemouth surges. Frequently the home side led expeditions from deep and found themselves in sight of goal. A few sharper touches and they probably would have led.
Daniels scores Bournemouth’s fourth goal during their emphatic victory against Chelsea
Gonzalo Higuain was substituted after 65 minutes as he made his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea
Higuain watches on as Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc dives to make a save during the first half
MATCH FACTS, LIVE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Boruc 7; Clyne 7, Cook 7, Ake 7, Smith 6.5; Stanislas 7 (Mepham 90), Surman 6.5, Gosling 6.5, Fraser 7 (Daniels 90); Brooks 7.5 (Ibe 68, 6); King 8
Subs not used: Mousset, Rico, Begovic, Solanke,
Eddie Howe 8
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa 6; Azpilicueta 5.5, Luiz 4.5, Rudiger 6, Emerson 5.5; Kante 6, Jorginho 5.5, Kovacic 6 (Loftus-Cheek 77); Pedro 6.5 (Willian 61, 6), Higuain 5 (Giroud 65, 5.5), Hazard 6.
Subs not used: Alonso, Barkley, Caballero, Christensen
Maurizio Sarri 5
Ref: Roger East 6.5
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Josh King applied the finishing touch to a well-worked move to open the scoring for Bournemouth
In the first instance, around five minutes in, Josh King played a fraction behind David Brooks, who had overlapped into a clear position, and half an hour later Brooks fluffed his attempt to control when a flash-shot looked the smarter choice. In each case, good opportunities were a fraction of quality away from goals. Likewise when Brooks sent a free header at the far post directly to Kepa Arrizabalaga and Junior Stanislas snatched at a shot at the close of the half. Wilson, you fancy, would have punished Chelsea.
But that is not to say Chelsea were poor at this point. They attacked with speed and they pressed effectively but those decisive passes in the final third were missing. Higuain, for his part, was moving with no great purpose and Eden Hazard tried both flanks without landing a punch.
Higuain, on loan from Juventus, attempts to make an impact but finds himself closed down by Bournemouth’s Steve Cook
The experienced striker was taken off in the second half having been unable to score on his Premier League debut
Brooks attempts to find the net while Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger looks to block his effort
Brooks seeks to push forwards for Bournemouth while finding himself put under pressure from Chelsea’s Jorginho
Their best moment came on five minutes when Pedro crossed for Mateo Kovacic, who headed back across goal. Artur Boruc was wrong footed but tipped brilliantly on to the bar. The rest of the half offered little more beyond a Hazard shot easily saved by Boruc.
That first period allowed a sense that Chelsea could be vulnerable and the start of the second underlined it with King’s goal. Ryan Fraser accelerated the move with a chip to Brooks and his cut back reached King, who was close to Kovacic and Emerson but evidently unmarked by either. A good finish but Sarri will ask questions about how it came to pass.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe inspired his side to an excellent victory as they managed to get the better of Chelsea
It was a frustrating night for Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, who watched his team slip to a defeat
Talented youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi, who had a transfer request rejected, wasn’t in the squad for the game
N’Golo Kante blew a cracker of a chance to level when took a heavy touch after being put through by Pedro and that almost brought Sarri to his knee. Pure bewilderment on the touchline.
A moment later, Brooks was put through by King after David Luiz had one of those moments of supreme carelessness and after sidestepping the Portuguese, he finished for 2-0. King buried the third on 74 minutes after Stanislas got the wrong side of Luiz and squared. A lovely move and another counter-attacking goal. A message for Sarri in there somewhere.
Daniels got the fourth in stoppage time with a header following lax marking. A worry all round for Chelsea.