Chelsea entered the festive season with yet more generous giving away of points as Glenn Murray’s winner just 99 seconds after coming on as a substitute leave Chelsea with more than 99 problems.
The Blues, already making the worst title defence of any Premier League champion, are left in 14th position, 14 points off the Top Four and just three above the relegation zone. More ominously, Mourinho has now lost four of his last seven home league matches, having previously gone on a run of only losing one in his last 99.
In the end, Glenn Murray’s goal means Bournemouth are the first newly-promoted side to win in the league at Stamford Bridge for 14 years, and whilst relegation can surely not be realistic, the sheer contrast from the side who were cruising at the top of the league with 36 points at this point of last season to the one marooned in uncharted territory puts more question marks on Jose Mourinho’s future.
It was another case of Mourinho not knowing Chelsea’s best formula. Courtois returned for the first time in three months, but Costa was again benched with Hazard being supported by Willian, Pedro and Oscar.
But for all the flair on paper, Bournemouth started as they meant to go on. Stanislas capitalised on a Chelsea error to warm Courtois up, but the sloppiness from Chelsea continued from a midfield pairing of Matic and Fabregas whose demise has been astonishing with King testing Courtois’s near post.
Hazard was displacing Costa from the line-up after a credible leading role in last week’s draw to Tottenham and had Chelsea’s best chance when he cut inside from the right to strike, but stand-in goalkeeper Boruc was athletic enough to dive to his left.
Pedro tried to get in on the act but nothing was working, neither for Oscar whose side-foot was too heavy and the ball flew over the crossbar.
Mourinho had seen enough and threw on Diego Costa straight after the re-start, but Chelsea’s top scorer last season with 21 goals was not the answer.
Ritchie tried his luck from 25 yards whilst at the other end, Matic knew nothing about Willian’s cross which smacked off his nose and over the bar. It was a superb chance had he woken up to play a football game.
Costa was on the receiving end of a Fabregas pass but decided he did not want to play the striker and opted to square the ball, which hit a Bournemouth hand on the floor. It was a penalty shout.
Ivanovic was booed by his own fans — and reacted furiously — but every cross of his was poorly weighted, but one good one just evaded both Pedro and Costa. It was turning into one of those days, especially with Bournemouth eager to sit back.
The Chelsea pressure kept coming from a side whose starting line-up cost £213 million to Bournemouth’s £1.7 million, but the Bournemouth spirit would give them the victory.
Glenn Murray was summoned from the bench and popped up, offside, from a Bournemouth corner. The former Crystal Palace striker had Cahill deeper than him, but Courtois was not and the goal should not have stood, but Howe’s tactical substitution paid dividends.
If the £213 million from the starting line-up was not enough, Mourinho still had a start-studded bench costing some £74 million, and opted for desperation through Remy and Traore, the latter who played a bigger contribution by virtue of not being able to kick the ball properly when asked to take a corner.
Bournemouth saw the game out against a side who were unbeaten in their last 43 home league games against newly-promoted teams. It leaves even the concerned Mourinho to re-adjust expectations to “top six” and not “top four”, with there only ever being one team in Premier League history to have ever finished in the top six after taking 15 points or fewer after 14 games.
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Man of the Match
THIBAUT COURTOIS: Thrust straight back into the line-up, perhaps unfairly on Begovic, and whilst Courtois did not cover himself in glory for the goal having come far too far out to punch hopelessly, were it not for the Belgian atoning for Matic’s errors, Fabregas’ errors or Ivanovic’s errors, the game would have been lost earlier. 6/10
Mourinho was running out of excuses: “In the first half we were soft and did not press and were not aggressive and were not intense. In the second half everything changed. We were aggressive, created chances and had crosses and a clear penalty that the referee did not see. That is the game. If [their goal] was offside, it is another episode that goes against us, but I did not see it.”
Howe was proud at how far his club had come: “It was really emotional in the dressing room afterwards. I’m so proud of them. In my opinion, it’s the biggest result in the club’s history. The club has never been in the Premier League before so winning at the champions is a huge result for the club.”