Not much has gone right for Bournemouth in the last week, so they will be yearning for victory on Saturday to lift their spirits, with fellow promoted side Watford providing the opposition.
After drawing level at Stoke City, it looked as if Eddie Howe’s men were the more likely side to go on to win the game having gained reward for increased second half pressure. However, they conceded the decisive goal with seven minutes left and failed to come up with a response, ensuring that it was a thoroughly miserable afternoon which was compounded by a serious injury to top scorer Callum Wilson. He will now be out of action for six months.
That represents a bitter blow to the Cherries, who are very much down on their luck with big money summer signings Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings having been struck down by similarly long-term injuries in recent weeks. It also means extra pressure on the likes of Lee Tomlin and Yann Kermorgant to come up with the goods in front of goal, as Wilson is a very tough man to replace thanks to his pace and quality finishing.
And it will not be easy to breach a Watford backline that has been among the most obdurate in the Premier League so far this season, even if their perfect defensive record at home was ended by Crystal Palace in their last game. It was a tight affair, but they were made to pay for not having enough clear goalscoring opportunities, as for all of the creativity shown by Jose Manuel Jurado in particular, leading striker Odion Ighalo was well marshalled by the visiting defence.
One man who will be relieved at the absence is Hornets right-back Allan Nyom, who never had a moment’s rest against Palace and eventually ceded to the pressure by giving away the penalty that decided the game. But the Cameroon international did show that he can get forward well, indicating that his side can have some joy down the flanks, an assumption which is boosted by the manner in which Ikechi Anya attacks down the left.
Along with Gradel, Mings and Wilson, Bournemouth are still without defender Tommy Elphick and midfielder Harry Arter.
Watford will be unable to call upon Valon Behrami, who completes a three-match ban, while Joel Ekstrand is out with a knee problem.
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