15:00 GMT, Saturday 18th November, Vitality Stadium (Bournemouth, England)
Having lifted themselves out of the bottom three in the Premier League table, Bournemouth are a team on the rise.
In a refreshing break from the modern trend, Bournemouth have achieved this through remaining patient with Eddie Howe and similarly, Howe has stayed patient with the ideologies that saw his side slump this season.
They remain far from safety, however, and a win this weekend will be essential to bolster their upturn ahead of a tricky December schedule.
Like Bournemouth, Huddersfield come into this game with two Premiership wins from their last three games.
Unlike their opponents, Huddersfield have achieved the relative safety of mid-table through a series of gritty performances which have seen them keep five clean sheets and make the most tackles in the league this season.
David Wagner’s success has largely been based around home form and must now try to replicate this on the South Coast this weekend.
Last Time Out
Newcastle United 0-1 Bournemouth (Premier League)
A game which was low on quality but featured plenty of chances saw the Cherries snatch victory with the last shot in the game. Asmir Begovic was to thank for keeping his side in the contest, the Bosnian keeper making a string of crucial saves during a first half in which the home side had the upper hand.
After the break the Cherries warmed to their task with the defence standing solid and Simon Francis also proving a useful route to get the ball up the pitch from his return to a right-back role. After Marc Pugh’s shot struck the woodwork in the closing stages, the game look destined to remain goalless until Steve Cook nodded home a winner two minutes into stoppage time.
Huddersfield Town 1-0 West Bromwich Albion (Premier League)
The Terriers bounced back from a heavy defeat at Liverpool with a fine win over the Baggies despite being reduced to ten men. The win put Huddersfield into the top half of the Premiership within two years of Wagner taking charge of the West Yorkshire side. It was also a win which was typical of the fighting spirit the German manager has instilled in his players, holding off an established, albeit, struggling side on home turf.
The first hour was running smoothly for Huddersfield who dominated possession and worked some good openings before the impressive Rajiv van La Parra curled home from 25-yards out. The complexion of the game was changed around the hour mark when Christopher Schindler was dismissed for a second yellow-card offence but Huddersfield proved robust in the face of a late Baggies rally to retain the lead and claim all three points.
Tyrone Mings (back) Junior Stanislas (groin) and Benik Afobe (groin) all remain out of action this weekend, the latter of which again paves the way for Callum Wilson to again start for the Cherries. It’s hoped that Josh King will be fit to start this game after withdrawing from the Norwegian squad due to a reoccurring back complaint.
Huddersfield Town Lineup
Christopher Schindler’s two yellow card sending off last time out sees him suspended for this fixture while Philip Billing (ankle) misses out again through injury. Aaron Mooy’s 24,000+ mile journey during the international break should mean he’s unlikely to feature the whole game although Steve Mounie featured in both of Benin’s games this last week and will be pushing for a place back in the team and Kasey Palmer has featured for the under-23’s after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Key Battle: Simon Francis (Bournemouth) vs Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield)
The Bournemouth captain has recently switched from playing right centre-back to right full back and it’s a switch which is paying handsomely for Eddie Howe. As a side who win a lot of their aerial duels, one of Bournemouth’s strongest performers in this area is Francis. The captain won a colossal 80% of his 20 duels against Newcastle with Howe using Francis to win the ball for his team from Begovic’s kicks upfield and it’s likely to be a tactic reused again this weekend.
Up against the Cherries defence is a player who has won more aerial duels than any other for his side this season. Depoitre is used as the focal point of his team and his commanding presence in the air has caused problems for every team he’s faced so far this season. With only two goals from his 7 appearances, he needs to find a way to become more effective, however, the imminent return of Steve Mounié could provide a fruitful combination for the Terriers.
A soft touch
Eddie Howe’s passing philosophy may have stuttered during the early stages of this season with only one win from their first eight games, however, he’s firmly stuck to the principles he believes in. Bournemouth have continued to seek improvements in their passing style and currently only Southampton and the top six teams have a better average passing accuracy this term.
There is a distinct lack of tackles from this side, however, with Bournemouth making the least amount of tackles so far this season. In contrast to this, they come up against the Premiership’s top-tackling side this weekend in what will be a real clash of styles. If the Cherries are to take anything from this match, they will need an increased bite in defence in order to impose themselves on the game through quick turnovers that can best use their pace at countering.
Lacking a bite
The Terriers may be defensively solid with the most tackles and third highest number of interceptions in the Premier League, however, they still have problems at the other end of the pitch. Only Swansea have managed to take less shots collectively during the first eleven games, the result of which is Town’s poor record of only eight goals scored so far.
Central to this has been Tom Ince who has managed the most shots on goal each game (2.5) but is yet to score in the Premiership. The 25-year-old winger has also only created one assist for his side despite featuring in every minute of the league campaign so far. With Mooy likely to be less effective this weekend, now is a good time for Ince to begin delivering an end product for his club.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-0 Huddersfield Town
With a low-scoring game looking likely, the possible absence of each team’s key creative player (King and Mooy respectively) being missing from the starting lineup does not bode well for the entertainment stakes. November is being seen as a crucial month for the Cherries who have a series of games they expect to take points from and this motivation along with the Terriers poor away record could see a narrow home win from this fixture.
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