Two teams with similar ambitions and positions in the table will lock horns with each other for the second time this season, when David Moyes’ West Ham host Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon at the London Stadium in the Premier League.
The gap between the two sides is just a single point, with the Hammers at 11th with 25 points on the board and the Cherries at 13th, with 26 points in the bag. When the season started off and even when they faced each other last month at the Vitality Stadium, their ambitions were similar, avoid the drop.
They still carry the same hopes, as we enter the business end of the Premier League season.
Last season’s clashes between the two sides saw each of them win games at their own home. Bournemouth beat West Ham 3-2 at the Vitality Stadium after the Hammers had beaten the Cherries early in the season.
Hammers progressing under Moyes
When Slaven Bilic was sacked by the West Ham board in the early part of the season, the club was staring relegation right in the face. The appointment of David Moyes didn’t bring in too much optimism, but the former Everton, Sunderland and Manchester United boss has done very well since coming in back in November.
The side looks more organization and structured than it did under Bilic and that has played a role in taking the club back up to eleventh. While the club still has the third worst defensive record in the league, the defense has helped West Ham in holding Tottenham to a 1-1 draw, beating Chelsea, holding Arsenal and fighting valiantly against Manchester City, only to concede a last ditch winner.
Things have been a bit of a concern going forward, but the form of Marko Arnautovic has been crucial. The Austrian has scored five times and has racked up a tally of three assists in his last six games, which is very good for someone who was struggling under Bilic. The fact that he’s being used up top has favored him. And the Hammers have the ninth best attacking record in the league, having scored 29 times this season.
Bournemouth look for resurgence after Wigan disaster
While Bournemouth have done well to climb out of the drop zone from where they were early in the season, the recent 3-0 hammering at the hands of lowly third-tier Wigan in the FA Cup does come as a disappointment. Eddie Howe will look for a response from his side against the Hammers.
The loss to the Latics came after an impressive, superb 2-1 comeback win over Arsenal last weekend, as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe had helped the Cherries overturn a 1-0 deficit late in the game. That was the club’s second win in three games and the Cherries have not lost a Premier League game in their last four outings; exactly what Howe would want from a side that finished ninth in the league last season.
While goals were a problem for the Cherries, Wilson’s return to fitness has been a bonus for the club and the Englishman has scored six times this season. The injury suffered by Jermain Defoe didn’t help, but Jordon Ibe is slowly showing signs of what he is capable of as well. The men from the South Coast have scored only five goals less than Hammers and have the 11th best attack in the league.
And while the defence has been better than how it was at this point last season, Nathan Ake’s performances at the back have been key to the side’s defensive performances. The club has let in 35 goals, six less than Moyes’ men.
Hammers struck by injury crisis
David Moyes’ side will be at a serious disadvantage in the injury department, as they have as many as ten first team players out injured. Winston Reid will miss out due to a groin injury. Declan Rice is suffering from a hamstring injury among others and Andy Carroll is out due to an ankle injury. Andre Ayew will face a late fitness test before the game to determine his availability for the game. Michail Antonio too, is unavailable.
As far as Bournemouth go, they’ve got no new injury concerns bar the exclusions of Tyrone Mings and Defoe. Joshua King and Junior Stanislas though, will face fitness tests to know as to whether they can play at the London Stadium or not.
West Ham: Adrian; Collins, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta, Kouyate, Obiang, Noble, Masuaku; Lanzini, Arnautovic
Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Fraser, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Afobe, Wilson