Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has urged his players to be ready for the 'important spell' that is to come, following their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday.
Howe could only watch on helplessly as Pep Guardiola's men stormed to a convincing victory at the Etihad, but reckons that the Cherries will know exactly what they're made of after they play their next few matches against clubs perceived to be around their level.
The defeat leaves Bournemouth floundering in the relegation zone. Yet they will be facing off with West Ham, Everton and Brighton in the next three Premier League matches, with another match against the Hammers set to follow a clash against Arsenal.
"Those games will take on even more significance," Howe said to Sky Sports after the match. "We came here trying to get something but we knew it would have been incredibly difficult and we have to look at these games [against United, Liverpool and City] as one-offs because of the quality of opposition we were playing.
"We had an incredibly tough run but my hope is the players have come through it okay and we're ready to go into an important spell for us."
If Man City beat Bournemouth today, every team from Arsenal down will be closer to the relegation zone than the title - only Chelsea & Man Utd will be closer to the top than 18th.— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) December 23, 2017
Speaking on Saturday's match, the manager said that he thought his team did well, considering the opposition and injuries in the squad, potentially further compounded by an apparent injury to Junior Stanislas.
"I thought we did okay," he went on to add. "It was a huge task for us today, not just the team we were facing but also the injuries we've got.
"We were okay in the game until we conceded the first goal, which was our own doing, and it was hugely frustrating with the game plan we had. From then on it is difficult.
"The second goal is the killer for us. We still had a go to try to chase it and then opened ourselves up to concede a couple more.
"I've not spoken to [Stanislas] but I think it's his hamstring feeling tight. We had a patched up team anyway and to lose another important player for us made it very difficult. It was a difficult afternoon."