Bournemouth will have the opportunity to have an indirect bearing on the title-race when they travel to White Hart Lane to take on Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur side on Saturday afternoon.
While the Cherries came up with a valiant fight but ended up conceding a 3-1 loss to table-topping Chelsea at Vitality Stadium last week, Tottenham haven’t lost a single game in all competitions since they fell to a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Belgian outfit Gent in the Europa League back in early February.
Spurs haven’t a single time against Eddie Howe’s men in the last three Premier League outings, but the Cherries will take heart from the fact that their previous game at Vitality Stadium resulted in a hard-fought goalless draw.
Spurs look to keep title charge going
While every Spurs triumph in the league seems to put pressure on Chelsea to win, this week could prove to be the most critical one in the title race. A win for Spurs could again pile the pressure on the Blues, who face a stiff trip to Old Trafford on Sunday to come closer to claiming their fifth Premier League title.
Pochettino’s men have earned a knack for scoring a lot of goals at home, they haven’t lost a single game at White Hart Lane this season. And their home form has been a vital contributor to their title charge, which can well falter if they drop points on Saturday.
The Lilywhites have racked up a tally of 14 goals in their last five games, winning all five of them. And their last five home games have yielded as many as 19 goals, just as many as Harry Kane has scored this season.
Apart from Kane, Spurs have seen a lot of their goals come from the midfield too. PFA Young Player of the Year award nominee Dele Alli has scored 16 times in the Premier League, only one less than Chelsea star Diego Costa. Christian Eriksen tops the assists charts, contributing to 11 goals and has scored seven times too. South Korean star Son Heung Min has also scored 11 times, assisting four times.
It’s one of the reasons why Spurs are the third best outfit, when it comes getting the goals at 64, behind only Chelsea and Liverpool in the table. Defensively, Spurs have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League-22, two less than Manchester United.
All of these factors have contributed to Spurs’ second consecutive fantastic season and it only seems like a matter of time before Pochettino’s men claim a trophy in the coming seasons, if not this season.
Howe’s men aim for top half finish
Bournemouth were, at one point of time, as high as ninth in the league, but a frustrating start to 2017 dented their hopes of achieving a top-half finish. Since their thrilling 3-2 win over West Ham, the Cherries have turned things around and an unlikely win at White Hart Lane could well help them in come close to the goal, as the gap between them and tenth placed Cherries is just three points.
Spurs do have the best defensive record in the league and the third best goalscoring record, Bournemouth have the third worst defensive record, conceding 59 goals. And a shaky defense has been a big concern for the Cherries, who have conceded fewer goals only than Swansea and Hull.
Despite that, their last five league games have yielded only a single loss, which came in their previous game against Antonio Conte’s men. After going two-nil down, Bournemouth had pulled one back through Josh King minutes before half-time only to see Marcos Alonso double the advantage and seal all three points through a wonderfully taken free-kick.
And King tops Bournemouth’s goal-getting tally with 13 goals and has managed to fill in for the injured Callum Wilson, who sustained a serious knee injury in late 2016.
After King, Junior Stanislas happens to be the Cherries’ second highest-goalscorer with four goals and a lack of consistency and fitness has dented his hopes of scoring more.
Spurs receive Kane boost
Victor Wanyama, who has come close to recovering from his back injury, will be a doubt to feature after having played a pivotal role in Tottenham’s season. Danny Rose continues to nurse his MCL injury, while Harry Winks and Erik Lamela are ruled out for the season. But the biggest injury boost for the Londoners will be the comeback of Harry Kane, who came on to play around a half an hour during Spurs’ 4-0 win Watford last week.
As far as Bournemouth go, Junior Stanislas is a doubt to feature due to a groin strain and Andy Surman is a major doubt too, thanks to a knee injury. Dan Gosling is expected to undergo a late fitness test and the duo of Callum Wilson and Adam Federici continue their respective recoveries from knee injuries.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Davies; Dembele, Dier, Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane
Bournemouth: Boruc; Smith, Cook, Francis, Daniels, Arter, Gosling; Fraser, Wilshere, King; Afobe