West Ham United-Bournemouth Preview
Slaven Bilic's revival of West Ham United has included memorable victories over the creme de la creme of English football.
It also includes a stunning defeat as AFC Bournemouth notched their first Premier League victory.
The Hammers go for a fourth straight win Tuesday night when they try to avenge one of their four league losses against the upstart Cherries.
Bilic was a surprise hire by West Ham last summer as they tried to implement a plan after three seasons of mid-table finishes following promotion back to the Premier League.
The plan is working. West Ham (8-8-4) are sixth in the league, one point back of fifth-place Manchester United. They haven't finished that high since ending 1998-99 in fifth.
Wins over Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea have proven the Hammers are capable of joining the league's elite. They've also won both meetings with Liverpool by a combined 5-0 score, winning 2-0 at home while allowing one shot on target Jan. 2.
"The secret of this team is the group," defender Angelo Ogbonna told the team's official website. "Our group is really fantastic and that's why we fight, we prepare everything and we are focused on everything.
"We are just one match into the second part (of the Premier League fixture list) so we have to stay with our feet on the ground. We will take things step by step."
The Irons took another step Saturday, beating the Championship's Wolverhampton 1-0 to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
The next step in league play comes against Bournemouth (5-6-9), who famously defeated West Ham 4-3 at Upton Park on Aug. 22.
That stands as the Cherries' highest scoring performance in league play, and they're having all sorts of issues in that department lately. Bournemouth haven't scored in three straight games, drawing two after playing Leicester City to a scoreless tie Jan. 2.
They snapped that drought in the FA Cup on Saturday, winning 2-1 at Birmingham City after manager Eddie Howe overturned his entire starting XI.
The first team is seeing more changes, particularly in an effort to increase scoring.
Juan Iturbe was signed on loan from AS Roma, and Bournemouth added striker Benik Afobe from Wolves on Sunday for a reported £10 million, which would make him the highest-priced transfer in club history.
"He'll bring pace, strength, and hopefully goals," Howe said of Afobe. "He's also a good player technically and we'll be excited to see him in a Bournemouth shirt if the deal gets completed."
Afobe has 10 goals in 27 matches across all competitions for Wolverhampton this season, while Iturbe is trying to revive his career after a disappointing spell for the Italian capital outfit.
Finding success against West Ham won't be easy. The Hammers have allowed three goals while going unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions, going 3-5-0.
Andy Carroll has a goal in each of his last two league matches after getting just one in the previous 10. The oft-injured forward enters his first meeting with Bournemouth looking to tally in three straight games for the first time.