Written by Courtney Hill (@cjhsport)
Cherries boss Eddie Howe labelled his side’s current injury dilemma a ‘blessing in disguise’ ahead of tomorrow’s clash with top-four chasing Tottenham.
Howe’s side go into the game on the back of a scintillating 3-3 draw with Southampton last weekend.
But, with seemingly an inconsistent defence along with Cherries having never won against Spurs since promotion from the second tier, Howe’s side could be in for a long afternoon.
That won’t be helped by the ongoing injury problem that seems to have stinted Bournemouth’s progress this season, despite Howe hailing it a ‘blessing in disguise’ due to the opportunities it has allowed other players.
Season in review
Taking some time to asses Bournemouth’s season so far, with just two games remaining, Howe revealed this is one of the most demanding yet.
The Cherries boss said: “It’s been a challenge – the Premier League is so demanding, every season has brought us different hurdles we’ve had to overcome.
This season is different in that it’s the first season we’ve had a really strong start to the campaign but have then been really stretched by injuries for the first time since our first season.”
Despite issues faced this season, Howe remained hopeful that if they are able to overcome these challenges, then they will come back next season – their fifth in the Premier League – even stronger.
Despite being regarded an established club within the top division, Howe still believes it’s important that they show why they belong there, saying: “For us, it’s about having to prove that we deserve to be here first and foremost every season, so that means starting the campaign with a really good mentality to go and achieve and to go and progress.
“And hopefully, we can keep doing that and keep getting stronger.”
And naturally getting strong could mean action in the transfer window this summer. Just two goals off equally the highest number of goals conceded since promotion, the defence could be one area that sees a big change.
Howe told Nerve Sport: “I think naturally, you’re always looking at every area of the squad and saying ‘can we improve’. But I don’t think that will be different to whatever area of the team, whether it was the forward line, the midfield, the defence.
“Let’s go to the market and see if there are players that can make us stronger.”
Looking ahead to Spurs
With the side already thinned out due to injuries, fans will be disappointed to hear that four players are now in doubt for tomorrow’s game.
Howe said: “We’ve got obvious doubts, our long-term injured are still injured and now we have doubts over Dan Gosling (calf), Dominic Solanke (knee), Adam Smith (hamstring) and David Brooks (ankle).
“We have stretched resources at the moment but we’re trying to look at that as a positive in the respect that we’re giving opportunities to players to see how they perform at this level.”
Despite the concerns, the quartet will be going through late fitness tests to see who is or isn’t available – but for right now, it remains to be seen who will pass their test.
Bournemouth are yet to win against Spurs since their promotion in 2015, suffering heavy defeats along the way which has led Howe to regard Spurs as one of the best teams his side has ever come up against.
He said: “They’ve got an outstanding manager and a great group of players.
They’ve done well this year considering the fact they haven’t been active in the transfer market, so huge compliment to Mauricio and his staff.”
Although this game is sandwiched between Spurs’ huge Champions League tie against Ajax, Howe isn’t expecting the mentality of Spurs to be affected.
“I think they’ll be keen to come here and win and perform.
“But we can’t look at them games – we just have to focus on our game and delivering what we want to.”
Bournemouth will take on Spurs in tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off, as the Cherries look to avoid a third defeat on the bounce at home for the first time since 2015.