Bournemouth entertain Watford at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow, with both sides looking for a morale-boosting victory to kick-start 2017. The Cherries are hoping a return to home comforts will do the trick after a disappointing performance on their travels last time out, when they lost 3-1 to relegation-threatened Hull City. For Hornets manager Walter Mazzarri, this could be a key fixture as he attempts to alleviate the pressure that has been growing on him. After a good start to the season, Watford have stumbled in recent weeks and Mazzarri’s position has come under scrutiny.
Eddie Howe’s men currently sit 11th in the Premier League and their record of two wins, three defeats and one draw in their past six games reflects their inconsistency. Bournemouth’s home form has generally been good though; who could forget the memorable 3-3 draw with Arsenal the last time they were on home soil? What will concern Howe, however, is the alarming statistic that Bournemouth have conceded three goals in eight of their past 10 fixtures. Watford, meanwhile, are winless since December 10, a period in which they have collected just two points that has seen them plummet down the table. They are seven points clear of the drop zone in 14th, but need to return to winning ways sooner than later.
Cherries skipper Simon Francis serves the final game of his three-game suspension, which means Adam Smith will continue to deputise at right-back. Striker Callum Wilson is pushing for a recall, while Tyrone Mings, who made his first Premier League start for the club in the 3-1 defeat by Hull, is once again set to partner Steve Cook in central defence. Mazzarri could hand new signing Tom Cleverley, on loan from Everton, his first start for the club and is likely to pick Costel Pantilimon in goal with Huerelho Gomes out injured. Nordin Amrabat and Adlene Guedioura are on African Cup of Nations duty.
Since both teams were promoted to the Premier League in the summer of 2015, each encounter between them has ended with a share of the points. In the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road back in October the match finished 2-2 – and you wouldn’t bet against the same scoreline this time. Bournemouth have been leaking goals regularly while Watford have struggled to get over the winning line. Mazzarri will probably be the happier of the two managers if the two sides can’t be separated, with Howe eyeing a victory to return to the top half.
Score prediction – Bournemouth 2-2 Watford