AFC Bournemouth vs West Ham preview: a Boxing Day six-pointer

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West Ham visit the Vitality Stadium on Boxing Day in what will prove to be a season-defining match for AFC Bournemouth.

The Cherries, winless for seven games, face the prospect of falling behind in the relegation scrap if they do not win against David Moyes‘ side.

Eddie Howe‘s side are one point below their Tuesday opponents at the halfway stage of the season, and with things tightening up around them, there is a feel of gloom around the South Coast.

Bournemouth are in the drop zone after consecutive losses to top four opposition, the most recent of which was a bruising 4-0 away loss to league leaders Manchester City.

Their meek surrender against City must have been concerning for Howe, and the short turnaround between that match will not help.

Even more concerning is Bournemouth’s home record, the worst in the league. They have claimed a meagre eight points at home this season, which is something the Hammers will look to capitalise on.

The East London club have been playing well recently under new manager David Moyes, but they have as yet failed to win two away matches consecutively. They will be emboldened by the return of Manuel Lanzini from suspension, and the good form of Marko Arnautovic.

The Cherries did thrillingly win the corresponding fixture last season 3-2 with Josh King scoring a hat-trick. King, however, is a doubt for Tuesday’s fixture with a hamstring problem.

He is another name in a growing Bournemouth injury list. Jermain Defoe is going to miss the match with a fractured ankle, while Charlie Daniels, Harry Arter and Junior Stanislas are doubts. Tyrone Mings and Adam Fedirici are long-term absentees. For West Ham, senior players Mark Noble and Jose Fonte look unlikely to make the trip.

Referee Stuart Attwell will take charge of the crucial fixture. On Boxing Day, Cherries fans will be hoping for the gift of three points, and daylight in what promises to be a long relegation battle.