Tottenham Hotspur-Bournemouth Preview
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is looking for a response from his players Sunday when they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Dean Court.
Howe's Bournemouth (2-2-5) were smashed 5-1 by Manchester City last time out and are in the middle of a tough run of fixtures - with Liverpool and Southampton coming up at the start of November. However, despite having to deal with both his team's on-pitch travails and a major injury crisis, Howe is remaining positive ahead of Sunday's clash with Spurs.
"We've regrouped, we've evaluated and we've reflected," the young Cherries manager said. "City was a difficult one to watch back for ourselves, for everybody, because we didn't feel we did ourselves justice, especially with the goals we conceded. But I think it's a healthy situation, to review, and make sure you come out with positive outcomes from those reviews and move forward very quickly. We can focus on the next challenge ahead.
"Certainly it's not a time for us to dwell on any negatives or get too downbeat. It was always going to be a tough assignment for us. I think the big thing coming out for us was to make sure we tighten up, as the goals we conceded were disappointing."
Bournemouth's hopes of surviving in the Premier League have been dealt a huge blow by long-term injuries picked up by captain Tommy Elphick, top-scorer Callum Wilson and record-breaking summer signings Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings. Artur Boruc, Andrew Surman, Lee Tomlin and Harry Arter are also short-term injury worries for the Cherries.
Tottenham's Premier League future doesn't hinge on their fitness worries, but Spurs (3-5-1) are in the midst of an injury crisis of their own. Star summer signing Heung-min Son has been out for four weeks and has been joined on the sidelines by fellow creative midfield options Nacer Chadli and Alex Pritchard. Ryan Mason is back in the squad after injury, but there are still doubts over fellow central midfielders Nabil Bentaleb and Tom Carroll.
And Spurs' injuries limited manager Mauricio Pochettino's rotation options as he named a close-to full-strength side for the disappointing 2-1 defeat to Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday.
"I am angry, frustrated, disappointed… I don't know which word to describe me," the Tottenham boss said after watching his side miss the chance to take control of their Europa group. "We lost our focus and after ten minutes changed the game completely. This was our problem and we need to learn.
"We are young, but if you are the best team on the pitch after ten minutes and you believe you can win the game, you need to win the game. We lost our focus."
The defeat means that Spurs are without a win in their last four games in all competitions, although they are the only side in the Premier League to have remained unbeaten since a loss to Manchester United in the opening game of the season.
Tottenham have the second-best defensive record in the division and have kept four clean sheets in their last six league games - conceding just three goals. But Bournemouth have also been solid defensively, particularly at home, where the have allowed just three goals in four games.
The impact of a Thursday-Sunday turnaround for the visitors gives Bournemouth hope of springing an upset, but Tottenham have in fact lost just one of their last seven league games following Europa League fixtures.
Spurs striker Harry Kane has shaken off a knock and is expected to start, but has managed just one goal in 14 appearances for his club this season and is struggling to rediscover the form that earned him international recognition and the Premier League Young Player of the Year award last season. However, centre back Toby Alderweireld believes Kane will turn it around before long.
"We create chances in every game, but our scoring isn't at our best level," the Belgian politely explained. "It is a matter of form. We have the players who can score goals, so it is maybe a little bit down to belief, but I think it will come."