Premier League 17/18 Week 33: Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace -Lineups, Preview and Prediction

The Eagles will attempt to fly away from trouble when they visit a Cherries side looking to hit the magical 40-point barrier

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(Photo Credit: Chris Downer)

15:00 BST, Saturday 7th April, Vitality Stadium (Bournemouth, England)

While almost guaranteed to play in the top-flight next season, Bournemouth sit in the top half of the league with a 9 point cushion from relegation. Having only picked up a solitary win from their last 6 league games, Bournemouth’s form has been faltering of late. A porous defence has been largely to blame for this but it’s been partly circumvented by an average of 2 goals per game over the last 12 matches. Aiming for a second clean sheet in 20 league games this weekend, Eddie Howe will continue to push his players hard despite their being little other than elbow room to fight for this term.

Roy Hodgson will look on enviously at Bournemouth’s position ahead of this match with safety having been his only clear aim for Palace this season. Sitting only one place above the relegation zone, the Eagles have not yet landed their goal. This is something mainly due to them suffering 5 defeats from their last 6 fixtures, however, injuries have played a significant factor in this. With no major teams left to play during their final six games, they have a good chance of beating the drop but will need to prove they deserve their status starting with a victory this weekend.

Last Time Out

Watford 2-2 Bournemouth (Premier League)

The definition of a mid-table battle finished with honours even after a spirited fight-back from the Cherries. It was an entertaining clash which played out between two equally matched teams who proved their near-identical league positions are no coincidence. 

After Watford took a 13th-minute lead, Bournemouth restored parity just before half-time with a Josh King penalty that sent the keeper the wrong way. Eddie Howe claimed after the match that Watford could conceivably have received three red cards, the first of which cited was the most blatant as José Holebas deliberately handled the ball to concede the penalty just before the interval.

A quick goal after the break for the Hornets restored their lead, however, evergreen striker, Jermain Defoe, rose from the bench to strike a predatory goal deep into injury time. It was an apt ending to a pulsating game and provided a fitting scoreline to proceedings on the South coast.

Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool (Premier League)

The curse of the late goal struck the Eagles again as their resolute performance was denied reward by an 84th minute Mo Salah goal. Palace had been resolute in their defending for most the game and were once more left to rue what could have been against one of the league’s top teams.

It had all started so well for Hodgson’s men, Luka Milivojevic converting a 13th-minute penalty to put them ahead when Wilfried Zaha was felled in the box by Liverpool’s keeper. Sadio Mané angered the home crowd with a blatant dive for a penalty before sending the Eagles a warning through a goal disallowed for offside soon after.

Mané scored a legitimate goal quickly into the second half to draw the teams level but Palace responded well to the setback. Christian Benteke should have scored twice but somehow contrived to put both chances wide of goal. With Salah showing the Belgian how it should be done close to the final whistle, it left a hollow taste for the home side who were again left empty-handed after an admirable effort.

Bournemouth Lineup

Tyrone Mings (back) and Adam Smith (knee) will both miss out again this week although the former made a return to action earlier this week with a 45-minute appearance for the Under-21 team. Junior Stanislas (knee) will also not be available after limping out of the Watford game at half-time, however, both Harry Arter and Lys Mousset will be fit for selection once more.

Crystal Palace Lineup

Hodgson will be in the now-familiar position of facing an injury crisis this weekend as Julian Speroni (knee) Joel Ward  (knock) Scott Dann (knee) Jeffrey Schlupp (knock) Bakary Sako (ankle) and Jason Puncheon (knee) all continue to miss out. Each of his recognised strikers are unavailable, with Christian Benteke (groin) joining Alexander Sørloth (muscular) and Connor Wickham (fitness) in the physio’s room this week, although, the latter of which is believed to be closing in on a return.

Key Battle: Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth) vs Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace)

With Callum Wilson suffering a barren spell that has now lasted 7 league games, it could be time for Howe to rest his young striker. Wilson was caught off-side frequently against Watford last weekend and coupled with Defoe’s dramatic impact on the match, this could easily see the veteran striker receive a start this weekend. Having scored twice in each of his last three encounters with the Eagles, Defoe will pose a threat to Palace whether he starts or comes into this match as a substitute.

Having played two full games since returning from injury, Sakho has looked like he was never away for the Eagles. The £26m centre-back made an impressive return against Huddersfield in making his way back into the first team before a mixed game against his former club last week. As a player who made a substantial impact in Palace’s rise away from relegation last season, it will be widely hoped he can perform similar heroics this term after making a timely return to action.

Talking Points

Leaving it late

After a shaky start to the season due to what looked like fitness issues with several of the Cherries squad, they’ve bounced back into mid-table safety with an impressive second half of the season. Amongst a run of good results, many of these games have been typified by a strong showing during the second half of their matches–recording a league-high of 17 points collected from losing positions – which suggests a strong mentality and above-average stamina levels.

While not always going in their favour, there has been a goal scored on or after the 89th minute in each of their previous 6 league games. With three scored and three conceded, there’s not been any advantage gained or lost by the Cherries, however, there’s plenty to keep the fans fixed to their seats until the fat lady breaks into song.

Problems are just opportunities for others

While injury problems have affected Palace more than anyone else this season, the lack of any senior strikers this weekend will again be a significant blow to Hodgson’s preparations. It won’t be the first time this season he’s faced such a problem and calls into question the clubs recruitment policy having been proven to be short of resources in this critical area of the squad.

With emergency striker Bakary Sako also sidelined for the season now, it will once again be Townsend and Zaha who get the nod in attack. On the bench this weekend is likely to be a new star in the making for the Eagles. 18-year-old forward James Daly has made the travelling party for the Eagles after a string of impressive displays for the junior teams. With a place on the bench most probable and a substitute appearance an outside probability, this may only be the first step towards a senior place but it could signal further opportunities in the coming weeks.

Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Crystal Palace

With at least three goals scored in each of Bournemouth’s previous 8 home fixtures and a habit for producing last-gasp action, there should be plenty of entertainment on the South coast this weekend. Palace are short of recognised strikers but Bournemouth potentially have an issue at right-back, a position filled by Ryan Fraser last week, which could prove a more troublesome problem regarding this match. With Palace having played well in recent weeks and with a greater need for a win, an away victory could well be on the cards from this fixture.