West Ham United-Bournemouth Preview
As rumours swell regarding Callum Wilson's future at Bournemouth, the immediate focus for Eddie Howe's side is finding a way to earn their first Premier League victory in almost a month.
They'll make that attempt Saturday against visiting West Ham United, one of those teams reportedly interested in the Cherries' forward.
With a little less than a fortnight left in the January transfer window, interest in the talented Wilson continues to grow. It makes sense, Wilson has a team-high 10 goals plus five assists in 23 matches over all competitions. According to HITC, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and even West Ham (9-4-9) have been linked to Wilson.
However, the price for acquiring the star striker is expected to be steep. And though Bournemouth (8-3-11) currently sit 12th in the Premier League table heading into the weekend, they are well safe from the drop zone and just three points shy of the top-half.
So, they have something to play for at the moment.
But if the Cherries are to make a serious push for the top 10, they must pull in gear quickly. Bournemouth are just 2-1-11 over all competitions since the beginning of November, and 0-1-3 in the league since a 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Dec. 22.
They'll look to bounce back from a 2-0 loss at Everton last weekend, in which the Toffees scored both goals after 60 minutes. Despite the defeat, Howe felt positive about the effort and, at least publicly, thinks his club is making progress.
"We saw a really committed team performance (against Everton), and both individually and collectively, we were very good," Howe told Bournemouth's official website. "I think we have to take a lot of confidence from the performance, not the result. If we play like that again, we can take confidence the points will come."
Bournemouth earned all three points with a 2-1 win at West Ham on Aug. 18. After Marko Arnautovic opened the scoring in the 33rd minute for the Hammers, Wilson equalised in the 60th and Steve Cook delivered the eventual winner six minutes later. The Cherries are 2-2-0 in the last four against West Ham in the Premier League.
However, the Hammers arrive at Vitality Stadium amidst a 2-1-0 stretch over all competitions, and coming off an impressive 1-0 victory over Arsenal last Saturday. Declan Rice's goal in the 48th minute stood up and gave West Ham their first home win over the Gunners in more than 12 years.
It was also the Hammers' seventh victory in 10 matches over all competitions and left them ninth in the table.
"We're happy with the win (over Arsenal), and it shows if we continue to put in performances like that consistently, we will be able to compete against anyone," goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski told West Ham's official website. "We just have to stay focused and work like we've done in the last week."
Out since Dec. 22, veteran Chicharito is back training with West Ham, but it's uncertain if his fitness level will make him available for this contest.
"He continues to be (an) important player for our squad," Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini said of Chicharito, who also has been the subject of a potential transfer move.
Updated January 17, 2019