Chelsea have lost a second consecutive league match and are 20-points behind league leaders Liverpool after a VAR decision awarded a late goal to Bournemouth.
Dan Gosling’s goal, which was awarded by the video assistant referee (VAR), gave the injury-hit Cherries their first victory since early November in a scrappy encounter at Stamford Bridge.
The result ended their five-match losing streak and handed them their third away win of the season. Their last Premier League points had come on 2 November, when they beat Manchester United at home.
“It’s been a really difficult run, a lot of soul searching has gone on,” Howe told BBC Match of the Day. “We’ve lost a lot of players to injuries and we had to step up to a really tough test.
“We had to come up with something slightly different because if you do the same things you get the same result.
“In the second half I thought we were a real threat in the match and we could have scored more. Our goalkeeper at the other end made some big saves.”
The match looked to be heading for a goalless draw when Gosling flicked the ball over his and Blues keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s head, the effort originally ruled out for offside before VAR awarded the goal.
Bournemouth – who move up to 14th in the table – have now beaten Chelsea three times in their five Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge, the latest consigning Chelsea to their fourth league defeat in their last five matches.
Frank Lampard’s side lacked tempo and creativity and were undone by a resolute Bournemouth defence, but their manager rejected suggestions it was a reality check for his team.
“Maybe for the fans and the players, but not for me,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I didn’t get excited in the great run that we had, the Premier League is tough and I felt there was a lot of improvement needed, and that’s proved true.”
He added: “I think it’s a reaction time for everybody, myself, the players. Fans are coming here and watching us at home struggle to beat teams that we should beat.
“I expected us to offer more to break a team down that was as organised as Bournemouth were.
“Sometimes you can work on things all week and recreating them on a match day is a difficult thing. Today we were too slow with the ball.”