Norwich City-Bournemouth Preview
Bournemouth will be looking to stop the rot Saturday when they host Norwich City at Dean Court.
Eddie Howe's Bournemouth (5-6-10) are without a win in four following their three-game flurry of victories just before Christmas, and those dropped points have seen the Cherries slip back down to just three points off the drop zone.
It's hardly surprising to see minnows Bournemouth down in the relegation mix in the Premier League, especially considering their injury crisis that has seen them lose the services of record summer signings Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings, plus striker Callum Wilson, to long-term injuries.
However, the south coast club aren't short of money and have moved quickly to strengthen their depleted squad in the January transfer window, adding strikers Lewis Grabban and Benik Afobe in big-money deals. Despite the spending spree, Howe insists he is being careful with the cash and has the club's future interests at heart.
"It is not a comfortable feeling for me as I have been right through the journey,'' said Howe. "The year that we were embargoed (for going into administration) we had 13 or 14 players to choose from, and to think in a few years' time you would have been spending millions of pounds on players would not have seemed possible.
"I take every penny we spend very seriously, as well as the responsibility which comes with that, and I try to make good decisions for the football club, not just for now, but for the long term. It is important that we look beyond this season as it is not just about the here and now, and hopefully we get the major decisions right.''
Visitors Norwich (6-5-10) are also threatened by relegation and just two points above the Cherries. Alex Neil's side have won three of their last five, but will be low on confidence after a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Stoke on Wednesday - a game in which Gary O'Neil was sent off in the first half when the score was still 0-0.
"He's probably the one player I'd have picked that wouldn't have done that," the Norwich manager said. "I don't generally know what happened, Gary's apologised but it's still really disappointing. He's let his teammates down tonight, basically. He's been performing really well and has helped the team recently, so he will be disappointed in himself.
"But it's happened now, and we need to get our focus for Saturday."
O'Neil will miss this game - as well as upcoming league encounters with Liverpool and Tottenham - due to suspension, but Norwich have no other reported absentees. Bournemouth have concerns over the fitness of Josh King, Tokelo Rantie and Matt Richie.
The Canaries are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions and have won 2-1 on each of their last two trips to Dean Court.
Norwich have won just one in 10 away from home, but the Cherries have just one win from their last seven at home.