We preview Saturday’s EPL clash between Bournemouth and West Ham which is being played at the Vitality Stadium.
The pressure that was mounting of embattled Eddie Howe has been momentarily lifted by a gritty display in the ill-tempered affair at Old Trafford. They will be without the services of Tyrone Mings following that inexplicable stamp on Zlatan’s head. I suppose if you are going to stamp on a player’s head, go big or go home. West Ham were just outplayed and out-thought by prospective champions, Chelsea. They are having to balance various injury concerns whilst constantly having to monitor the fitness of key striker Andy Carroll. This should be an extremely open encounter with two sides that can’t keep clean sheets.
Bournemouth vs West Ham United | Saturday 11 March | The Vitality Stadium | 17:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Bournemouth 15/10 | Draw 47/20 | West Ham 17/10
The almost maniacal antics of Tyrone Mings could have left Eddie Howe in a bit of a dilemma, with Francis still unavailable through a hamstring strain. They could bring Brad Smith into the side and do some musical chairs in the defensive line-up, or opt for the young Cargill. I think they will show faith in Cargill as they try to stick with specialists. Jack Wilshire will return to dictate proceedings while Fraser and King offer plenty of pace .
Wilshire will feel that he could hold the ascendancy in that pocket of space behind Afobe and co, with Mark Noble steadily advancing in years. Surman and Arter are going to have to be at their disciplined best in order to contain the counterattacking threat posed by Antonio and Lanzini. West Ham have shown that they seem more comfortable on the road, with no mandate to take control of the game.
West Ham United
Slaven Bilic will know that the absence of Antonio was crucial in their defeat on Monday. They simply lacked the cutting edge on the counter attack and were also exposed at the dead-ball situation for Costa’s goal. His return from an idiotic suspension comes at a crucial time against a dangerous but simultaneously vulnerable Bournemouth side. Eddie Howe’s principles have endeared him to spectators of the league. But they also leave them exposed, especially by swift counterattacking sides.
Snodgrass had a poor game against Chelsea but I expect him to bounce back here minus the irritation value of N’Golo Kante. He has always been good in these games against lower opposition sides, able to utilise that educated left-foot like the playground bully. Kouyate has fitted in well as a makeshift right-back while Lanzini has ably picked up the creative slack vacated by Dimitri Payet. Andy Carroll could absolutely thrive in a match with Tyrone Mings and Francis unavailable. This is a game where Bournemouth will sorely miss Nathan Ake.
Verdict: Total Goals over 2.5 at 7/10
This should be a goal festival as both sides can’t keep a clean sheet. Bournemouth matches, in particular, have been responsible for a plethora of goals this season, with Eddie Howe’s steadfast belief in free-flowing attacking football both idealistically refreshing and potentially self-destructive.