Venue: Dean Court
Kick off: 3PM
Bournemouth play host to Watford in the Premier League this afternoon needing to avoid defeat to remain ahead of the Hornets in the standings.
After a run of eight defeats from 10 Premier League fixtures, a home FA Cup tie against Luton Town came at the right time for Bournemouth, who ultimately ran out 4-0 victors against the struggling Championship outfit.
However, while Eddie Howe will take the positives from that occasion, especially witnessing Dominic Solanke net his first goal for the club since joining a year ago, there will be an acknowledgement that they are now faced with arguably their most important match of the season.
Their recent abysmal run has led to the Cherries dropping into the relegation zone at a time when today’s opponents have turned around their own form after previously sitting adrift at the bottom of the standings.
While Howe continues to be tipped to eventually move to a bigger club, this represents the most significant test of his managerial career with Bournemouth facing a battle to retain their Premier League status.
The result at the weekend will not necessarily prove pivotal in the long run but with Norwich City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa to come in the games which follow, Howe is aware that maximum points against Watford would put his players in an improved frame of mind ahead of those fixtures.
As far as the visitors are concerned, Nigel Pearson encountered the first blip of his short reign last weekend as his side blew a three-goal advantage against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup.
However, despite the natural disappointment, Pearson will likely view it as a learning experience for some of the younger players which were given an opportunity, while it would have backed up his own opinion over his first-choice side at Vicarage Road.
The players in question have contributed to 10 points being recorded from four top-flight outings – a return which appeared unrealistic when Pearson replaced Quique Sanchez Flores at the back end of last year.
Pearson will now demand that his players make the next push in their quest for survival, with three points being enough to move the club past Bournemouth and Villa ahead of the latter’s showdown with Manchester City later today.
Bournemouth possible XI: Ramsdale, Francis, Cook, Mepham, Rico, H.Wilson, Gosling, Billing, Fraser, Solanke, C.Wilson.
Watford possible XI: Foster, Dawson, Mariappa, Cathcart, Masina, Chalobah, Capoue, Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu, Deeney.