The day after Christmas is usually reserved for recovering from whatever you ate on Christmas Day. But if you’re a football fan, it’s reserved for the Premier League. Boxing Day will bring a full slate of football matches, including Tottenham’s second match of the week, coming just three days after their emphatic win over Everton.
If you’ll pardon me for saying this, there’s a reason why Eddie Howe is the bookies’ favorite choice to replace Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham if Poch leaves for Manchester United. Howe has been with the Cherries since 2009, and has taken them from near relegation in League 2 to mainstays in the Premier League in a decade. Bournemouth is not a large club, nor does it have anywhere near the resources the top six clubs possess, but they have confounded everyone by not only surviving in the Premier League, but steadily improving every season.
They’ve done this by taking a page out of Spurs’ playbook: smart investment in the transfer market. Bournemouth players are technically excellent, driven, but not necessarily ambitious — the Cherries don’t seem to lose their best players to bigger clubs, and the players they have are excellent fits for Howe’s brand of possession-oriented, attacking football.
Currently, Bournemouth are eighth in the table, but just three points behind Manchester United in sixth. They boast a pretty decent attack, sixth in overall xG, and are getting excellent production out of their forwards. Callum Wilson, finally healthy, is having an excellent season with eight goals and five assists. They have five goals each from David Brooks & Josh King, and four from Ryan Fraser. This is a Bournemouth team that knows where the goal is — outside of the top six, no other club in the league has scored more goals this season, and they’re remarkably efficient, averaging just over 11 shots per game.
As is the case with many of the clubs outside of the top six, their main issue is with their defense. While their offense can be formidable, their defense is distinctly mid-table, and they are winless in their matches this season against the top six, having been outscored 13-3 in the process.
There are lots of things to like about Bournemouth. They are underdogs, if you like that kind of thing. They play exciting, attacking football that isn’t that dissimilar to Spurs. But they are not, at present, on Tottenham’s level and even rotated and tired, Spurs should have enough in the tank to take care of the Cherries at Wembley.
How will Tottenham line up against Bournemouth?
Someone, I can’t remember who, said a while ago that anyone who correctly predicts the lineups during the festive period deserves a prize. We’re in the thick of things now, and all of this is guesswork that has a high probability of being hilariously wrong. But this is a preview post, so here goes.
Mauricio Pochettino rolled out DESK against Everton at Goodison Park, but DESK only has four legs and one of them is potentially injured. Dele Alli might have tweaked his hamstring after an awful tackle from Jordan Pickford in the first half and left the Everton match at halftime, so I expect he will be injured. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some wholesale shifts in this match, with Fernando Llorente, Lucas Moura, and Erik Lamela all coming in.
Midfield is tricky, with so many injuries. So Oliver Skipp and Harry Winks? Sure, why not? It appears all four of Spurs’ fullbacks are healthy again, so we could see Danny Rose and Serge Aurier come in for Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier. Davinson Sanchez is still fresh, and with Jan Vertonghen out until January, I think Spurs roll with the CBs they used at Goodison.
That’s my prediction for Tottenham’s lineup against Bournemouth. What’s yours?