Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion commence their Premier League campaigns on Saturday at The Hawthorns, in what can be expected to pan out as a fierce encounter between two teams keen to get points on the board in early August.
Eddie Howe’s men; buoyed by the signings of Jermaine Defoe (Free), Asmir Begovic (£10m) and Nathan Ake (£20m) will be looking to build on their best ever Premier League finish last season, and these three smart acquisitions from Howe will certainly aid their quest to do just that.
The presence of Jordan Ibe, Lewis Cook and the ever dependable stalwarts of Steve Cook and Simon Francis will add quality and consistency to a Bournemouth side who in no uncertain terms leaked goals last year, and their opening day trip to the West Midlands will set a precedent in Howe’s attempts to amend this part of their game.
West Brom have contrastingly had a quiet window, Jay Rodgriguez arriving from Southampton (£12m) the only attacking acquisition for the Baggies. Tony Pulis will be looking to build on the defensive foundation he has created in his time at WBA to date, and a Bournemouth side including the likes of Defoe, Afobe and King will test this no doubt.
West Brom’s early season progress in 2016/17 was astounding, with cries of Europa League ambitions echoing around the WBA faithful as they rose to eight in the standings by Christmas. However, an expected tailing off did indeed occur, though Pulis will be looking to build on this progress and to do that, three points is a must from the visit of Bournemouth.
On the basis of transfer activity and last seasons campaigns, one would expect a draw to be on the cards in what will undoubtedly be a close fought encounter at The Hawthorns. For both Howe and Pulis however, three points would be beyond appreciated in what is set to be the closest Premier League season; at both ends of the table, for quite some time. 1-1 the prediction, Rodriguez first goal-scorer.
Written by Tom Newman.