Premier League 17/18: Bournemouth vs West Bromwich Albion – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Howe’s Cherries can restart their ambitions of a top-half finish when they welcome the seemingly-doomed Baggies to the South coast
15:00 GMT, Saturday 17th March, Vitality Stadium (Bournemouth, England)
Sat on 33 points and in 12th position, Bournemouth are far from safety yet and will need to improve on their current form of two points from four games if they’re to reach the sanctuary of mid-table anytime soon.
Goals have not been a problem for Eddie Howe’s side, having scored in each of their last 11 matches. However, a porous defence has plagued the Cherries this season and prevented them climbing free of the relegation scrap.
Bournemouth’s troubles pale in comparison to Alan Pardew’s side who are now firmly planted at the foot of the table. Six consecutive defeats in the league have snatched all hope away for the Baggies to mount a charge up the table.
Having beaten Bournemouth in the reverse fixture, West Brom could complete only their second double win over a team in the Premier League during the past five seasons and it could help to finish their campaign with a little more dignity than looks plausible at the moment.
Last Time Out
Bournemouth 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
Two late goals gave an unfair reflection of a game in which the Cherries provided a good account of themselves against a Spurs side bouncing back from Champions League elimination.
Bournemouth began the match with real intent and were deservedly put ahead by Junior Stanislas in the 7th minute. They looked the far more hungry of the two teams and it seemed they may just take advantage of a Tottenham hangover from their midweek exertions.
It could have been even better for the home team but for Callum Wilson’s goal to be ruled out for a relatively soft push on Davinson Sánchez. Rather than doubling their lead, Bournemouth became content to sit on the marginal lead which proved to be their undoing.
After Dele Alli had equalised for Spurs before halftime, Tottenham grew into the game and dominated the second half with an inspired Son Heung-min proving the main difference between these two sides.
West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Leicester City (Premier League)
The Baggies suffered a dramatic second-half collapse, hastened by a bizarre substitution from Alan Pardew.
West Brom began the game in a tenacious fashion, seemingly determined to make one last effort of stamping some hope into their fading season. Salomón Rondón provided some rays of sunshine to creep in with only eight minutes played, putting his side ahead in what was his 100th appearance in the Premier League.
The lead lasted less than 15 minutes, however, with Ben Foster unable to keep out a sumptuous volley from Jamie Vardy midway through the first half. But for all of the Foxes superiority, they were unable to break the fierce rear-guard resistance put up by the Baggies.
Much of this was due to West Brom’s man-of-the-match performance from Grzegorz Krychowiak who ran tirelessly in the central areas to close down the Foxes. When Pardew chose to bring off the Polish midfielder just before the hour mark, Leicester turned their dominance into goals within three minutes.
While it’s unfair to blame the defeat entirely on this decision, the bottom line is that the Baggies were not good enough and went on to record their second-largest home defeat of the season.
Howe is still without Tyrone Mings (back) and Marc Pugh (knock) but has no other injury concerns beyond this pair.
Josh King could earn himself a recall into the team along with both Ryan Fraser and Jordon Ibe now that the wingers have returned to full fitness.
West Bromwich Albion Lineup
Gareth Barry (knock), Nacer Chadli (thigh), James Morrison (Achilles) and Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) all remain unavailable to leave Pardew with the same choices he faced last weekend which could see the same eleven begin against Bournemouth.
Key Battle: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth) vs Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Bromwich Albion)
Having just been called into the latest England squad to play the friendlies between Holland and Italy at the end of this month, Lewis Cook’s rise this season has been nothing short of remarkable.
While he didn’t feature in any of Bournemouth’s first 6 league fixtures, he is now an established part of the first team and one of the first names on the teamsheet each week.
This isn’t his first call-up to the national squad but he’s yet to make his debut. A strong performance in this game could tip things in his favour.
Trying to win the midfield battle from the other side of the field will be a Polish player who has failed to find any consistency this season.
Having given one of his better displays last weekend, Pardew bafflingly substituted the midfielder before heavily criticising him for not shaking his hand as he left the field. If Krychowiak does make the starting lineup this weekend, he will have a lot to prove with his performance once more.
No place like home
With a capacity of only 11,450, the Vitality stadium may be the premier League’s smallest ground but it’s proving to be a huge help to Bournemouth’s chances of survival this season. Before the visit of Spurs, the Cherries had recorded 3 wins and 2 draws from their 5 home games since Christmas.
With the crowd close to the pitch, there can be an intense atmosphere built up from the stands for away teams to deal with. With Bournemouth’s new-found ability to start games quickly, the crowd are also playing a factor in encouraging the team on.
If Bournemouth can grab an early goal against the Baggies this weekend, their 12th man could well help inspire them to glory despite his slight stature.
Fortune favours the brave
In only his second start for the club last weekend, Oliver Burke was one of the few West Brom players to come away from their heavy defeat with good reason to hold his head high. Playing on the right-side of the front-three, he provided the assist for Rondón’s early strike and constantly linked up well with Allan Nyom along the wing.
Pardew’s publically-stated decision to go with experience over youth now looks an ill-fated policy, albeit, with the help of hindsight. Both Burke and Sam Field may have a naivety to their respective games, however, they also have an energy which has been largely missing from the current West Brom team.
While Pardew has created a more attacking side than the one he inherited from Tony Pulis, he’s only delivered 11 goals from the 16 league games he’s presided over. Picking the safe option has clearly not worked for Pardew in the Midlands and to compound the misery, West Brom’s young stars are still no closer to realising their potential.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
With Pardew still clinging onto power in the Midlands, West Brom’s players have not yet stopped playing for the beleaguered manager. However, they also look unlikely to claim a win.
The Cherries have only kept one clean sheet in the last 17 league fixtures but should have more than enough to see all three points remain in their pocket come 5pm Saturday evening.