No rest for the wicked: Chelsea gear up for their fourth fixture in as many days, making the trip down to Bournemouth as they attempt to get back on track in the Premier League.
The Blues last three adversaries have been Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs and Bayern Munich in the league and Champions League respectively, ending the gruelling run with a singular victory.
Whilst Frank Lampard is still loosely clenching onto his place in next year’s European competition, the Cherries have their own worries at the other end of the spectrum, quivering just two points and places above the drop zone.
Few sides would manage to go unscathed against the adversaries Chelsea had to face in short succession, and unfortunately for Lampard, his fortunes were not favoured.
Amidst a controversial evening for VAR, the Blues were left red in the face by United as the away side came away 2-0 winners. Stamford Bridge was lifted by a victory of a similar score line, 2-1 against Spurs, Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso providing the goods.
In their third successive home tie, Munich made it men versus boys in the round of 16 first leg, netting three times in the second half to give Chelsea a mountain to climb at the Allianz Arena in March.
Their away form has made up for their inconsistencies at the Bridge, tasting defeat on four occasions in the league since the start of the campaign, winning a possible seven from 13 on the road.
Bournemouth's last game also incurred the wrath of the video assistant, having two goals chalked off as they lost 3-0 away to Burnley. Including the Clarets, Eddie Howe's men had picked up just seven points from a possible 30; crucially however, back-to-back victories over fellow strugglers Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion have given them a glimmer of hope in remaining in the top division for another cycle.
They have won four at the Vitality Stadium since match week one but have only kept one clean sheet in that period, a 0-0 with Norwich City; never fear, Chelsea only have four stop outs since the start of November.
Head to head
Bournemouth have the pick of the previous encounter between the pair, tasting a sweet, if not unexpected victory, in mid-December, Dan Gosling netting a late winner to take all three points away from the Bridge.
This particular clash is not stepped in rich history, having met on 16 occasions since 1988, 11 of those coming in the last five years. Chelsea have lost the last two, only after winning the two initial meetings (one in league and in the League Cup), as well as winning five on the spin between 2016 and 2017.
A result that stands out is the 4-0 thumping Bournemouth handed to the Blues last term, their heaviest domestic loss since 1996 and perhaps signalled the eventual demise of Maurizio Sarri as manager.
Expect energetic football, plenty of goals, haphazard defending and above all an eventual winner- the sides have never drawn against one another!
Lampard was dealt a huge blow against Bayern in terms of score line, but also on the fitness of Tammy Abraham. The striker seemed to suffer after a collision with Jerome Boateng, causing him to limp off during his post-match warm down.
N'Golo Kante remains on the side-lines following a muscle injury picked up against United, joined by fellow absente Christian Pulisic, missing since New Year’s due to a groin problem.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek can provide some optimism for the Blues boss, an unused substitute against Spurs are strong signs for the midfielder who has hardly kicked a ball all season.
David Brooks is making good progress in terms of his recovery, confirmed Howe, after the Welsh international has spent the entire season on the sidelines after suffering ankle ligament damage during pre-season, but is still not quite ready to face Chelsea.
Nathan Ake is in contention to face his former employers, having missed the defeat to Burnley through a head injury. Jefferson Lerma, also absent for that match, could return as well following a minor rib injury.
Arnaut Danjuma, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly are all on their way back to full fitness, but have some way off from a place in the match day squad.
The Blues manager began his press conference ahead of their visit to the Cherries addressing some injury news before confirming Loftus-Cheek's involvement.
He said: "Pulisic is injured. Kante injured, Abraham injured. We are trying to find a solution with Tammy. It’s the same.
"Ruben is in the squad again tomorrow. It would mean a lot for him. It is a lonely place to be injured. With the ability that he has got he is one of the most exciting English midfield players. "
Lampard then reflected on Chelsea's Champions League defeat in the wake before looking ahead to Bournemouth.
"The response will be about what we see tomorrow," he continued.
"[We] have been fine in training. The match was tough, it opens your eyes somewhat. The last Premier League performance was very good.
"In the bigger picture it was a lesson for the players. They were better than us. It was a reality check for all of us. I thought we could perform better. But we are in fourth and we have to fight until the end.
"We have a fight on. Anyone who is in range has a chance."