Kai Havertz and Mason Mount’s early strikes helped Chelsea ease to a 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Tuesday to snap a dismal run of five Premier League games without a win.
Graham Potter’s side endured a torrid spell before the World Cup but sparkled on their return to Stamford Bridge against the struggling Cherries to move eighth, six points shy of the top four with a game in hand to come.
However, victory came at a cost as defender Reece James limped off on his return from the knee injury which kept him out of England’s World Cup campaign.
James cruised through the first half but called for a substitution early in the second, pointing to his knee before going to ground and being replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Potter, aiming to avoid overseeing a fourth consecutive Chelsea league defeat for the first time since 1998, handed Denis Zakaria his Premier League debut.
The Swiss midfielder broke forward well to drive Chelsea up the pitch in the first half, while the effervescent duo of Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic led the Bournemouth defence on a merry dance.
Sterling provided the opener with an incisive low cross to the back post where Havertz slid in to convert in the 16th minute.
Pulisic could easily have won a penalty when he was pulled back but referee Simon Hooper waved away his appeals.
Mount doubled the lead with a well-taken drive from the edge of the box in the 24th minute as Chelsea stepped up another gear before Pulisic had another goal disallowed for a foul by Havertz in the build-up.
After three games in all competitions without scoring a goal, the Blues were determined to end their disappointing streak and get their season back on track.
Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers did well to deny James after a dynamic burst forward, then made an even better save to foil Sterling before the break to keep his team in the game.
Havertz fired wide and Mount forced Travers into a smart low stop as Chelsea tried to put the game out of sight.
In the end they didn’t need to as Bournemouth failed to threaten other than Jaidon Anthony’s late free-kick that was beaten away by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A fifth defeat in six league games leaves Gary O’Neil’s men in 14th just three points above the relegation zone.