After having made starts to the season that can well be deemed as being starkly opposite to one another, Bournemouth and Watford will go head-to-head in a game that will pit two sides with similar ambitions together at Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cherries finished as high as ninth last season, attaining the highest finish ever in their history. The start to the new season though, has been a bit disappointing as last week’s loss to Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion has seen the club slide down to 15th in the table. While the campaign has only just begun, Eddie Howe would want to find themselves in a better spot.
Watford on the other hand, will be back from a 3-3 draw against top four and title hopefuls Liverpool, who did hold a 3-2 lead till the 93rd minute, only to see Miguel Britos draw level at the death.
Howe goes searching for improvement
A loss against a side that is likely to finish around them when the campaign ends probably suggests the need for improvement, especially after finishing ninth last season. And Watford are another one of those sides who may well be vying for spots around Bournemouth themselves. Eddie Howe would be looking forward to how his side responds.
The former Burnley boss resorted to playing a 4-4-2 formation against the Baggies at the Hawthorns, with the duo of Andy Surman and Harry Arter starting in the heart of the park. Summer signing Nathan Ake played alongside Steve Cook at centre-back, while Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels earned starts at right-back and left-back respectively.
Joshua King, last season’s highest goal-getter, started slightly behind Benik Afobe. Despite having conceded early through Baggies’ summer signing Ahmed Hegazi, Bournemouth failed to register enough shots on target to draw the game, let alone win the tie.
The Hornets look to keep up the good work
The impressive 3-3 draw against the Reds brought to the fore some of the strengths that Marco Silva’s men currently have.
After Stefano Okaka had handed Watford an early lead, Sadio Mane had drawn Liverpool level. Abdoulaye Doucoure brought the advantage, only to see goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah complete a short-lived comeback. The men from Vicarage Road drew level very late through Miguel Britos, to get a well deserved point from a game many expected them to lose.
Okaka’s presence always seemed threatening to a Liverpool defense that often seemed incapable of handling the former Sampdoria man. Silva started off with the 4-3-3 formation and it was after a while that the club played that shape, as former boss Walter Mazzarri prefered the 3-5-2 formation more often.
The club failed to beat Bournemouth even once last season, as the meeting at Hertfordshire ended 2-2, and the game at the Vitality Stadium too ended in a 2-2 stalemate. In fact, this game has never yielded a win for either of the sides, ever since both of them climbed back into the Premier League.
Major absences for the Hornets
Roberto Pereyra had to exit the game early due to a hamstring injury he suffered and the duo of Daryl Janmaat and Younes Kaboul too will be out of action due to the injuries they suffered during Liverpool’s trip to Hertfordshire.
Christian Kabasele, who didn’t feature in last week’s game, is a doubt to feature as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. Same’s the case with star man Troy Deeney, who too is currently recovering from a groin problem.
Craig Cathcart is likely to be out and summer signing Brice Dja-Djedje could feature, if he recovers from a broken finger problem in time.
The news from the Bournemouth camp is more positive. But Simon Francis will face a late fitness test to determine as to whether he will feature or not. Emerson Hyndman featured in the Cherries’ U-23s defeat to Brentford and is coming back to full fitness, while Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson remain out.
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh; King, Defoe.
Watford: Gomes, Femenia, Prodl, Britos, Holebas, Chalobah, Capoue, Cleverley; Hughes, Okaka, Richarlison.