A.F.C Bournemouth vs Swansea City
Venue: The Vitality Stadium
Referee: Kevin Friend
Swansea City travel to Bournemouth this weekend in desperate need of points, as the Premier League relegation battle threatens to take a few final twists.
After a disastrous previous weekend, Swansea need a win from anywhere, and despite Bournemouth not yet being mathematically safe either, they’ll do well to get anything from their trip to the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth, whose manager Eddie Howe once highlighted the influence Swansea had on their style of play and their rise through the leagues, have accomplished another good, if unspectacular season. While in the mid-table battle this season it is Burnley who have been getting all the headlines for their European push, and despite Bournemouth now being unable to match their 9th placed finish from last season, a team of Bournemouth’s size and stature staying up comfortable once again means they may now be the team that Swansea aspire to be instead.
Eddie Howe is so often linked with the big jobs in English football but he may need to take Bournemouth to an entirely new level before landing one of them; despite their reasonably comfortable survival and attacking football, there is a sense that they could concede a lot less goals, which could turn a lot of draws into wins. Their loss away at Southampton last weekend only highlighted this, as Bournemouth created the more chances and had more possession, but were caught out twice on the break, ruining all of their good play. If signings are good in the summer and their defence takes on a much more rugged, much more consistent quality, then Bournemouth will continue to impress next season.
Swansea City continue to find themselves in dire straits following their spirited yet toothless display against Chelsea last weekend. However, it is undeniable that Swansea still have their own fate in their hands for the most part, and have been given the fixtures to make amends; proceeding this game are huge home fixtures against the two teams below them, Southampton and Stoke. If Swansea deserve to stay up they have the ultimate chance to prove it in the next few weeks, and with Huddersfield just above them having a nightmare final three games, starting at Manchester City on Saturday, any kind of result for the rest of the season may see Swansea overtake them.
Victory here would be crucial however; the mood when playing Southampton on Tuesday will be decided as to whether they have already been overtaken by their opponents or whether the point gap has been increased back to four. If they do stay up, the hope is that Carvalhal will continue on and quality additions will be made, as needed, but the situation where it all goes wrong again this season wouldn’t be unfamiliar. Whatever happens in the next few games, Swansea City desperately need a season of stability and calm, where they are looking forward and up the table rather than constantly over their own shoulders. There is a clear pattern of Swansea starting the season terribly, sacking their manager and then relying on the new manager ‘boost’ to stay up in the past few seasons, and whether that pattern is broken in either the Premier League or the Championship seems almost unimportant.
Bournemouth will still be without the trio of Harry Arter, Junior Stanislas and Adam Smith for this fixture, while Eddie Howe has suggested that forgotten man Tyrone Mings may be involved in this game for the first time since his most recent injury set-back, after being on the bench against Southampton. Changes to the team that lost at St Mary’s are unlikely, with players like Jordan Ibe and Jermaine Defoe not impressing after making cameos from the bench.
Swansea will be given the huge boost of welcoming back the returning Federico Fernandez, whose presence at the heart of defence was sorely missed last week as Swansea were forced to play Kyle Naughton in his place. The performance of young Connor Roberts at right-back for Swansea last week was impressive, spirited and forward thinking, and it will be interesting to see whether he is now considered a potential solution to the long-running issues in that position for Swansea. After being ineligible to face his parent-club when playing Chelsea, Tammy Abraham will be once again available for selection.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic, Francis, S. Cook, Ake, Fraser, L. Cook, Gosling, Daniels, Mousset, Wilson, King.
Swansea City: Fabianski, Mawson, Fernandez, van der Hoorn, Olsson, Roberts, Clucas, Ki Sung Yeung, King, A. Ayew, J. Ayew.
Prediction: AFC Bournemouth 1 Swansea City 1
Although these are two teams that go into Saturday’s game in contrasting moods they may end up having to settle for an equal share of the points at the final whistle. Swansea’s fate is almost certainly going to be decided elsewhere, on their own terms or not, while Bournemouth are looking for that final few points to mathematically guarantee safety and start looking forward to next season. If a draw is what these teams must settle for, results elsewhere will decide whether these teams feel heartened, or heartbroken.
Written by Jack Hall.
22. An often foolishly optimistic Swansea City fan, writing previews and reports for 90MAAT. Currently finishing a Masters in Film at Southampton University. @apuffofJack