AFC Bournemouth vs Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: Vitality Stadium
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Referee: Craig Pawson
Tottenham Hotspur will travel to the Vitality Stadium to clash heads with Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat against Ajax in midweek.
Spurs need to pick up some wins in the Premier League so that they can ensure UEFA Champions League football for another season.
Hence, this match against the Cherries could be an ideal opportunity for them to put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack for the top-four positions. Mauricio Pochettino is expected to opt for a 4-3-1-2 formation and might bring Heung-min Son back for this crucial fixture in their bid to ensure Champions League qualification.
Eddie Howe’s men, meanwhile, currently sit 14th following a demolition of Brighton coupled with a surprising defeat to relegated Fulham and a breathless 3-3 draw at Southampton, having already comfortably made sure of another season in the Premier League.
AFC Bournemouth: Form and Stats
After starting the 2018/19 Premier League campaign at a breakneck pace, Bournemouth will be more than a little disappointed at how the season has panned out. Coming into the penultimate game of the domestic season, the Cherries find themselves scrapping it out for a mid-table position, knowing that 11th place is the highest they can hope for.
Last weekend they did play their part in an absolute thriller of a match though, drawing 3-3 away to Southampton and clinching a point thanks to an 86th-minute goal from Callum Wilson. Still, Eddie Howe will be disappointed that they have only actually won two of their last 12 league outings.
Saturday does mark a real opportunity for the hosts though. They face a Tottenham side who haven’t been at their best lately, and the group of players will almost certainly have one eye on their Champions League crunch match in Amsterdam next week.
Admittedly, Bournemouth haven’t been at their best recently, but they have still only lost three of their last nine home games in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur: Form and Stats
Although still in a strong position to secure a place in the top four, Spurs seem to be limping over the finish line as a long season in both Europe and the league catches up with them
Fatigue and the lack of Harry Kane up front have led to some rather lethargic recent performances, with Christian Eriksen’s 88th-minute winner over Brighton their only goal in the last four matches.
It is therefore hard to see them racing out the blocks against Eddie Howe’s men, who have only struck two first-half goals in the last seven home games themselves.
Spurs will look to avoid a third straight defeat over a week’s span, the three-match winning streak Tottenham (23-1-12) were riding over all competitions – including a Champions League triumph over Manchester City – seems like a lifetime ago. Considering, Spurs are 1-0-4 overall since that unbeaten run.
“These are important games now, not just in (Champions League) but in the Premier League, too,” defender Davinson Sanchez told Spurs’ official website. “Saturday at Bournemouth is so important for us and we know what we have to face the rest of the season. We are looking forward, not just in the Premier League, but the Champions League as well. We are still alive, and we believe in our team.”
Spurs, who are playing without injured star Harry Kane and have managed just one goal in their last four over all competitions, should still have the belief they can record a fifth consecutive win over Bournemouth this weekend. Christian Eriksen had a goal with an assist and Kyle Walker-Peters set up three goals as Spurs rolled to a 5-0 win over the Cherries at Wembley on Boxing Day.
Ryan Fraser & Callum Wilson – AFC Bournemouth
It is hard to think of two Premier League players with a better understanding than Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson.
In setting up 12 goals for one another this season the AFC Bournemouth duo have become the most prolific goalscoring combination in Europe’s top five leagues.
They are also only one shy of the record for goal combinations in a single PL campaign, set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in Blackburn Rovers’ title-winning season in 1994/95, when 42 matches were played.
Both players have the ability to dent the top-four hopes of Saturday opponents, Tottenham Hotspur, with their pace and direct style of play.
While Fraser’s supply line to Wilson has been outstanding, his record of seven assists for the forward could be even greater.
Fourteen of his big chances created have been for Wilson but only five of those were converted into goals.
So had Wilson been more clinical in his finishing, Fraser’s stats would be even more eye-catching.
And it is not only Wilson whom Spurs will have to watch out for when the winger gets on the ball at Vitality Stadium.
In total Fraser has created at least one big chance for eight different team-mates
Heung Ming Son – Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane’s prolonged absence means Spurs’ #7 will lead the line again with Llorente having played midweek. However, his minutes could be kept in check for the Champions League semi-final in case Spurs do manage to have an early cushion of goals
The Spurs boss might be tempted to begin the contest with Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura up top. Son has been Tottenham’s biggest weapon following Harry Kane’s injury and so we can expect him to make a significant contribution in front of the Cherries goal if Spurs are to secure a result on Saturday afternoon.
The South Korean international has scored five times in his last four matches against the Cherries, equaling his best goal tally against any PL side, alongside his five strikes against Watford.
Bournemouth v Spurs | Opta stats
Bournemouth have lost six of their seven Premier League meetings with Spurs (D1), netting just two goals in those matches.
Tottenham have won two of their three Premier League away games against Bournemouth, winning 5-1 in 2015-16 and 4-1 last term. The other match finished 0-0.
Tottenham average 3.1 goals-per-game in the Premier League against Bournemouth (22 goals in seven games), their best such record against any side in the competition.
Bournemouth are winless in five Premier League home games (D2 L3), losing the last two in a row. They last lost three consecutively at the Vitality Stadium in April 2016.
Bournemouth have never lost their last home Premier League game of the season, drawing one and winning twice. The last time they lost their final home game in a league campaign was in 2010-11 in League One (1-2 vs Rochdale).
Until the end of January, Tottenham had won more away games (11), more away points (33) and scored more away goals (30) than any other Premier League side this season. Since then, they’re one of just two sides not to earn a single point on the road along with Huddersfield (L5).
Tottenham have lost 12 Premier League games this season, last losing more in a single campaign in 2008-09 (15). Only two teams have ever lost more than 12 Premier League games and still finished in the top four – Chelsea in 1997-98 (15) and Everton in 2004-05 (13).
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min has scored five goals in his last four Premier League games against Bournemouth – against no side has he scored more in the competition (also five vs Watford).
Christian Eriksen has either scored or assisted a goal in six of Tottenham’s seven previous Premier League meetings with Bournemouth (3 goals, 4 assists). The only game in which he didn’t ended 0-0 in October 2016.
Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last nine Premier League games, scoring six and assisting four.
Head to Head
It’s been all Spurs when these two sides have met. They won seven and drew one of eight encounters with Bournemouth so far.
Tottenham bagged as many as nine goals in last two wins over the Cherries, including this term’s 5-0 victory in December last year at Wembley.
The only time Bournemouth were able to beat Spurs was in an FA Cup clash in February 1957, in which the Cherries won 3-1.
Spurs don’t have the viable option of resting the like of Eriksen and Moura before the second leg at home next Wednesday. Both Harrys’ in Kane and Winks are out for the season while Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela are working their way back from injuries.
Jan Vertonghen will not play for Tottenham after his head injury against Ajax that sparked fresh debate regarding football’s approach to concussion.
After visiting a neurologist, the Belgian was set to find out on Thursday if he would be able to play in the semi-final second leg against his former club.
For the Cherries, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Charlie Daniels, Andrew Surman, Lewis Cook, Diego Rico and Junior Stanislas are all unavailable due to injury, while Dan Gosling will need to be assessed after suffering a calf strain in last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Southampton.
Predicted Starting XIs
AFC Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Simpson, S. Cook, Mepham, Ake; Brooks, Lerma, Hyndman, Fraser; King; Wilson.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Walker-Peters, Sanchez, Foyth, Davies; Wanyama, Dier; Lucas Moura, Sissoko, Son; Eriksen.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Spurs’ focus is heavily on the Champions League right now so that may play into the hands of Bournemouth. Despite Eddie Howe’s men missing a series of players themselves, Spurs have lost their last five away league matches and they may well struggle to get motivated for this match.
Tottenham are four points above Arsenal in fifth place, but they have a tricky clash with Everton scheduled for the last round of the season.
They will be looking to secure a spot in the next season of Champions League with a result here against Bournemouth who have nothing to play for in two remaining matches.