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bournemouth 1000x500Last Saturday’s home win against Wolves was very welcome. It might not have moved us up the table but it has lifted us five points clear of 18th place Cardiff who have since been beaten by Chelsea, somewhat controversially, and by Manchester City when they somehow managed to keep the score down to two.

The relegation battle has for weeks looked as though it would be for one remaining place and that has been confirmed in the last week. Huddersfield were relegated last weekend and Fulham, with their huge array of expensive talent, followed them when they were beaten at Watford in midweek.

It’s an incredible stat but I would think it is very rare that the team in 17th place with six games to go, as we are now, has more points than the bottom two put together. It’s also incredible to think that after the Boxing Day disaster we were one place lower and only one point ahead of Fulham and two ahead of Huddersfield. While we’ve picked up 21 points since, Fulham and Huddersfield have gained six and four points respectively.

Sean Dyche mentioned it but it is amazing that, since Boxing Day, only the two Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more points than us and yet, because of our dreadful first half of the season, we are still nowhere near safe from relegation.

I don’t know how many points we are going to need so we just need to keep collecting as many as we can and as quickly as we can. We need to build now on that win last week and push to get the necessary points.

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Striker Chris Wood, who all but scored the opening goal against Wolves, said about the mood since that win. “It’s been great, a good week as always. Training has been nice and lively, and everybody is upbeat which is the main thing. It makes it so much better, you get the feel good factor along with the performance and you get the three points, it’s perfect.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s game, he added: “We just take it game by game and focus on if we win at the weekend then it’s another step forward. It’s all about moving forward. You want to get clear as soon as possible, It’s nice, but you can’t think about what other people are doing.”

Wood hasn’t scored since heading the opener against Spurs. That’s five without a goal while the only goal his strike partner Ashley Barnes has scored in that time was the consolation against Palace. Even so, they are all but certain to start tomorrow with Matěj Vydra the only other fit striker since Peter Crouch had appendix surgery last week.

Sean Dyche said there are no other reported injuries so unless there has been anything since yesterday’s press conference I would expect the team to be: Tom Heaton, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Chris Wood. Subs: Joe Hart, Matt Lowton, Ben Gibson, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Robbie Brady, Matěj Vydra.

Our opponents Bournemouth are comfortable enough in the table in what is their fourth successive Premier League season. They currently have 38 points and are 12th in the table which is the lowest position they’ve held all season.

They are a side capable of losing heavily at times but also, and we should be aware, a side very capable of getting big wins and they’ve already had two 4-0 wins this season, at Watford and more recently at home against Chelsea.

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They are a threat going forward and have two players on double figures in terms of goals with both Callum Wilson (pictured) and Josh King on ten. Behind those two, both Ryan Fraser and David Brooks have scored six. Only five of the top six have scored more home goals than Bournemouth this season.

Manager Eddie Howe does have a couple of injury problems that he’s hoping will clear up; defenders Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith are the two players who he is hoping will come through. Other than that, it’s a full fit squad other than a couple of longer term injuries.

It remains to be seen whether Howe decides to shuffle his pack after the Leicester defeat last week which so disappointed him. Their line up was: Asmir Begovic, Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Mepham, Nathan Aké, Charlie Daniels (Diego Rico), David Brooks, Dan Gosling, Jefferson Lerma (Dominic Solanke), Ryan Fraser, Josh King (Junior Stanislas), Callum Wilson. Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Lys Mousset, Jordon Ibe, Jack Simpson.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

Last season, this, one of the longest journeys of the season, was one of our designated midweek games. We’d just, controversially again, been beaten by Arsenal which had brought to an end a run of three successive wins.

We went into the game in 7th position and our 2-1 win moved us up one place, and this was a win that was fully deserved after one of the best performances of the season.

Phil Bardsley got his first Premier League game for us with Matt Lowton ruled out with injury while Sean Dyche preferred Chris Wood to Ashley Barnes up front. We started brilliantly and the only surprise was that it took us until eight minutes from half time before we got ourselves in front.

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Robbie Brady, who had an outstanding game just days before he suffered his bad injury, picked up the ball from Stephen Ward. He flicked it onto Jack Cork and then took the return and got in a shot that deflected off Bournemouth’s Steve Cook into the path of Wood who scored from close range.

With twenty minutes of the half gone, the lead was doubled. Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson was played in down the right. He played it across for Brady who came inside a defender onto his right foot and scored superbly from just outside the box.

It looked done and dusted, but Bournemouth pulled one back from Josh King but there was no further threat from Bournemouth.

The teams were;

Bournemouth: Asmir Begovic, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Nathan Aké, Charlie Daniels, Jordon Ibe (Ryan Fraser 69), Andrew Surman, Harry Arter (Lewis Cook 58), Marc Pugh (Jermain Defoe 64), Josh King, Callum Wilson. Subs not used: Artur Boruc, Adam Smith, Dan Gosling, Benik Afobe.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Phil Bardsley, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Steven Defour (Ashley Westwood 75), Jack Cork, Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick (Ashley Barnes 86), Chris Wood (Sam Vokes 90). Subs not used: Anders Lindegaard, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Scott Arfield.

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