In what will be a tense afternoon for both teams on the South-Coast, The cherries welcome West Ham to the Vitality Stadium. With Bournemouth now occupying a relegation spot, West Ham only sit one place and one point ahead of Eddie Howe’s side.
Bournemouth had the joy of travelling to Manchester to play against the unbeaten league leaders Man City on Saturday. Even though Howe and his team could be proud of the display and performance individuals made during the game, inevitably, they were swept aside like every other team this season. Sergio Aguero bagged two, Raheem Sterling added his 12th league goal and Danilo scored his first ever goal for the Citizens on their way to a 4-0 win.
West Ham, like Bournemouth, lost their weekend game. The Hammers fell short against Newcastle, another relegation rival, and lost 2-3 at the London Stadium. It all started so brightly for West Ham as their star man at the moment Marko Arnautovic scored within the first six minutes. Festive cheer was in the air for roughly four minutes when Henry Saivet, the man who lost possession for the Hammers goal, scored a free-kick to make it 1-1. It turned from bad to worse for West Ham after the break as by the 60th minute, they found themselves 1-3 down after Andre Ayew missed a penalty to prove costly. Although Ayew did give the Hammers hope, Newcastle ended their winless run with a victory.
With both sides losing this weekend, it only applies more pressure onto this Boxing Day battle. Eddie Howe will be happy with the way his side plays but ultimately his side need goals if they want to continue their stay in the Premier League. Up until the Newcastle game, David Moyes would have praised his sides defence having kept three clean-sheets on the bounce. That defence was a figure of the imagination against the Magpies and West Ham will desperately look to hit back against Bournemouth.
This fixture last time out:
This game will be the first time the teams have met this season. Last season however, a cracking five goal thriller ended in a Bournemouth 3-2 win with star of the season for the Cherries, Josh King bagging a hat-trick. West Ham took the lead through Michail Antonio in the 10th minute, only to be pegged back before half-time. King added his second just after half-time before Andre Ayew got a late equaliser for West ham. The drama was far from over though as in the 90th minute, King completed his hat trick and won all three points for the Cherries.
With that result being late-on in the season, both teams went on to complete their campaigns in mid-table. The game this weekend however will carry a completely different meaning as both teams are looking for valuable points in order to get away from the relegation zone.
Manuel Lanzini will return for the Hammers after missing their last two games through suspension. The creative midfielder will be a huge boost for David Moyes and will come straight back into the starting line-up.
However West Ham are again likely to be without captain Mark Noble as he continues his spell on the sideline due to a hamstring injury.
It was revealed this week for Bournemouth that striker Jermain Defoe will be out for a couple of months with a fractured ankle in what could prove a huge loss for an already goal-shy team.
Junior Stanislas, who was injured during their 4-0 loss to Man City, is likely to miss out on the game against his old side. Josh King will not feature and defender Charlie Daniels will have a late fitness test ahead of the game. Harry Arter, the man linked for a January move to West Ham, could be at Eddie Howe’s disposal which would be a bonus for the Cherries.
West Ham predicted line-up: (5-2-2-1) Adrian; Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Reid, Cresswell, Masuaku; Kouyate, Rice; Lanzini, Arnautovic; Hernandez
AFC Bournemouth predicted line-up: (4-4-2) Begovic; Cook, Ake, Simpson, Smith; Ibe, Arter, Surman, Fraser; Wilson, Afobe
Bournemouth are currently 7 games without a win in the Premier League (D3 L4) and Eddie Howe will be desperate to turn that around after facing a tricky run of fixtures.
Michail Antonio scored home and away against Bournemouth last season but after being taken off against Newcastle after a poor display, David Moyes may consider utilising a ‘out and out’ striker instead of the no.30.
In both Premier League games that Bournemouth have been victorious against the Hammers, a Cherries player has scored a hat-trick on their way to victory. (Callum Wilson 2015 and Josh King 2017) If that continues today, who would score the goals for shy-shooters Bournemouth?
With Bournemouth having played Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United in their last four games, this game will provide a massive opportunity to get some points on the board. Bournemouth’s biggest failure of late is their inability to score goals but in defence of their players, they have played all of the top Premier League teams. West Ham will come into the game having disappointingly lost at home to Newcastle, who hadn’t won in 9 games before that victory. Marko Arnautovic continued to impress despite the result and he could again have a big contribution this Boxing Day.
West Ham and their defenders would have been flying with confidence up until that Newcastle game where apart from Arthur Masuaku, not one defender could argue they played well. Having been so resolute in their previous games, the Hammers will be desperate to sort out their defence when they face the Cherries. To add to that, Bournemouth haven’t been scoring but against a defence now low on confidence could be the perfect chance to take advantage of the Hammers downfall.
Overall though I think the Vitality Stadium won’t be too disappointed come full-time but I believe the shares will be spoilt. Ideally both teams will be after the win and to become 3 points further away from the drop zone but a draw is my opinion for this boxing day affair.
Prediction: AFC Bournemouth 1-1 West Ham