Leicester City-Bournemouth Preview
Fresh off their first Premier League win in club history, Bournemouth will take on one of the division's most in-form clubs in Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.
Eddie Howe's Bournemouth produced a sensational performance to beat West Ham 4-3 last weekend, with striker Callum Wilson bagging a hat trick. The result came on the heels of consecutive 1-0 losses at the start of the season, but the win clearly boosted the Cherries, who managed their second four-goal salvo of the week Tuesday when they dispatched Hartlepool 4-0 with a second-string side in the League Cup.
Saturday's clash with Leicester will see Bournemouth run out at their home ground - the Vitality Stadium - for the first time since the opening weekend. With a capacity of under 12,000, the Dean Court ground is comfortably the smallest in the English top flight. However, the size doesn't matter to Howe, who instead is eyeing a run of positive performances there to give the fans confidence the minnows can escape an immediate return to the second tier.
"Home form is obviously important to every team; it means a lot for us to play well and entertain our own fans," Howe said. "Leicester are potent in attack. They have a number of good forward players, but they'll also be tricky to break down.
"They have started very well and are a side that we respect immensely. We look forward to hosting them."
Picking up a result against Leicester won't be easy. Claudio Ranieri's side have been the early surprise stars of the Premier League, picking up two wins and a draw to trail only leaders Manchester City. They followed up last week's 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur with an impressive 4-1 win over Bury in the League Cup in midweek, but the result means the Foxes have conceded in all four of their games - something the manager is hoping will change this weekend.
"I love a clean sheet," Ranieri said. "Maybe I will pay a tenner to all my players when they get a clean sheet."
One player who may benefit from Ranieri's lucrative offer is defender Christian Fuchs, who impressed in the win over Bury and is pushing for a starting berth.
"I'm ready to play," summer signing Fuch said. "I want to play and I came here to play. I'm excited now and I just want to show that in my performances."
The Austrian fullback added: "We know Bournemouth have a good momentum and good spirit and that they won at West Ham. They just got promoted so they'll be trying everything to stay in the league, but we've had the better start to the season. I believe we can win there and I'm really positive about that."
Leicester rightly feel confident of victory, given they have won their last four meetings with Bournemouth and picked up maximum points in their last three away matches. They also possess the Premier League's early top-scorer, Rihad Mahrez, who has bagged four in the opening three games.
However, it's not all good news for the Foxes. Out of the 20 Premier League teams, they are last in possession, passing accuracy and number of successful passes completed.
Bournemouth, in contrast, have controlled possession in two of their three games. That midfield dominance could be aided by the return of midfielder Harry Arter, who is expected to make his season debut. The Irishman was a regular starter in their promotion season and weighed in with eight goals, but a groin problem has kept him out of the opening three matches.