Pre-match analysis: Tight game expected between Bournemouth and Burnley on Wednesday evening

Both sides are enjoying a good spell of form in recent weeks.

Pre-match analysis: Tight game expected between Bournemouth and Burnley on Wednesday evening
Expect an energetic battle in the centre of midfield (photo: Getty Images / Ian Cook)

A glance at the table would suggest that Burnley would be hot favourites to pick up three points on the South Coast on Wednesday evening. However, Bournemouth are enjoying their best form of the season and will be a stern test for the high-flying Clarets.

Two tough defences to break down

Despite the Cherries lingering just above the relegation zone and Burnley flirting with the European places, Bournemouth have got the better record in recent weeks. Ten points in their last five outings will fill them with confidence, although the Clarets have won three in the same period.

For Burnley, the focus will be on how they react after a controversial penalty robbed them of two points against Arsenal on Sunday. Sean Dyche and his players were visibly angered by the decision, though Dyche is likely to filter that emotion into another passionate and organised display as they look to protect a solid defensive record.

The Clarets have conceded just ten all season, the joint third best record in the Premier League, whilst Bournemouth have shipped fewer goals than any other side in the bottom half of the table and boast three consecutive clean sheets.

Goals at a premium

Thus, the first goal could be crucial on Wednesday evening despite eight goals being shared by the sides in their two meetings last season. The question is, where are those goals going to come from in this latest fixture?

Callum Wilson and Chris Wood top the scoring charts for their respective sides with three goals apiece but are both struggling for fitness in recent weeks. Sam Vokes has netted a trio of goals this season and is most prominent in the air but, if selected, faces a Bournemouth team who are strong with headers despite enjoying playing the ball on the floor.

Perhaps surprisingly, Bournemouth have scored four from set-pieces this season compared to just one from Burnley despite the dangerous delivery of Robbie Brady. However, they face the side who have won more aerial duels than any other team this season so such a route to goal could be more challenging this time around.

Who will get the balance right?

A chess game is likely to be in store between two widely acclaimed English managers in Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche. Howe will set his side to play a short passing game and look to attack down the flanks with their flair, pace and energy.

In contrast, Dyche's side will soak up the pressure and look to break on the counter-attack. One of the fittest sides in the league, they can quickly provide a numerical support in attack despite sitting so deep for the majority of their matches.

A win would be extremely beneficial for either side, although defeat could put both teams under pressure. Bournemouth could plunge back towards the drop zone, whilst Burnley's momentum could be further halted after the loss to Arsenal. The balance between attack and defence will be key to success for both teams on Wednesday evening.