AFC Bournemouth host Premier League high-fliers Chelsea at Vitality Stadium tomorrow.
Ahead of the game, afcb.co.uk caught up with Chelsea’s record appearance holder Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris to gauge his opinion on Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Harris, who played 795 games for the Blues, won the League Cup with them in 1965 and became the first Chelsea captain to lift the FA Cup and the first to lift a European trophy, the 1971 Cup Winners’ Cup.
afcb.co.uk: What do you make of the Gonzalo Higuain loan signing?
RH: If you look at Chelsea’s record, they have badly needed a main striker.
I know Eden Hazard has been playing there but I don’t think he is half the player when he plays up front on his own.
I thought we saw that when he played alongside Olivier Giroud in the Carabao Cup against Tottenham last week.
Alvaro Morata hasn’t looked happy playing there and hasn’t really set the season alight so they needed somebody. Whether Higuain fits the ball, we will have to wait and see.
afcb.co.uk: What would represent a good season for Chelsea?
RH: The Premier League is a two-horse race and I think Chelsea are fighting for one of the Champions League spots.
It’s important especially for the supporters because they like to see Champions League football.
A cup win would also be good. They are in the final of the Carabao Cup and through to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
If Chelsea and Manchester City were to put out their strongest sides in the final of the Carabao Cup then I think it will be tough for Chelsea to get a positive result but you never know, football is a funny old game.
afcb.co.uk: What’s your opinion on how Maurizio Sarri has fared so far?
RH: I think he set the ball rolling with the first dozen games when they went unbeaten in the Premier League and won all their matches in the Carabao Cup and Europa League.
He made his feelings known when they played Arsenal (lost 2-0) earlier this month and they were very poor.
But the performance was much better against Tottenham in the Carabao Cup and they deserved to win.
Hopefully, they can continue to make progress under him.
afcb.co.uk: Who will be Chelsea’s dangerman against AFC Bournemouth?
RH: I think Eden Hazard is head and shoulders above lots of players in the Premier League and he is their star man when he plays the role he did against Tottenham.
afcb.co.uk: What have you made of AFC Bournemouth this season?
RH: I watched them at Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup and thought they were unfortunate to lose 1-0.
I’m sure they would be happy to stay in the Premier League every season.
Football is dominated by half-a-dozen big clubs who can go out and spend £50m or £60m on players and I’m not sure the others can compete with that.
I think the manager has done a tremendous job in keeping them in the Premier League for a fourth year.
Finishing in the top ten would be a great achievement for them. They have done remarkably well.