“Its another big moment in our season” – Howe admits importance of Saturday’s showdown with Villa


Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has urged his players and supporters to “give everything” ahead of their relegation clash with Aston Villa.

The Cherries currently find themselves 18th in the league and one away from safety, with inferior goal difference separating them and 17th-placed West Ham.

But after recording their first win in seven last time out against Brighton, there is a renewed yet cautious sense of optimism at the Vitality Stadium. On Saturday, the Dorset club host fellow relegation candidates Aston Villa, a match which could see the loser end up in the bottom three at the end of the day.

The Villans fortunes have been marginally better in recent times. Their last eight matches have seen the side pick up 10 points, compared to Bournemouth’s seven. They currently lie in 16th place, two points above Howe’s men.

However after reaching the Carabao Cup final midweek, leading to a mass pitch invasion and jubilant scenes at Villa Park, Dean Smith’s men head to the south coast in confident mood.

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Howe revealed Jefferson Lerma and Diego Rico are expected to be in contention to face Aston Villa tomorrow. Both sat-out their FA Cup fourth-round defeat to Arsenal during the week.

Despite the pair returning, the Cherries continue to be plagued with injuries. Charlie Daniels (knee), Chris Mepham (knee), David Brooks (ankle) and Lloyd Kelly (thigh) remain long-term absentees with the former two expected to miss the rest of the season.

Howe also revealed the visit of Premier League rivals Villa “would probably come too soon” for Josh King, Jack Stacey and Junior Stanislas, who are all working their way back into fitness.

Meanwhile, Villa are still without Tom Heaton and Wesley, who both suffered season-ending ACL injuries in the match against Burnley earlier this month. Jed Steer (calf) and John McGinn (ankle) remain out.

Ahead of the visit of Villa, Eddie Howe has commanded the same ‘collective effort’ from on and off the pitch as they showed against Brighton last week:

“Its another big moment in our season. I think we cast our mind back to the Brighton game where we knew how big that game was and the feeling of the players, the feeling of the supporters was absolutely brilliant.

“The collective effort from everyone was there, and we are going to need the same again from everyone in the stadium, from all the players, everyone connected to the team. This is a stage where we have to give absolutely everything in this match.”

Despite reaching the Carabao Cup final in midweek, Dean Smith has insisted his side will ensure there is no complacency against Bournemouth:

“It’s a very big game, but no bigger than the ones against Watford, Brighton and Burnley. They’re teams in and around us and that’s where our season will be defined.

“I’m very respectful of Eddie Howe and what he’s done, Bournemouth are an established Premier League team now.

“We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the consistency of our performance. It’s very easy to have the highs of reaching a major cup final in front of 40,000 fans, and then go to a smaller ground. We’ve got to make sure there’s no complacency on our part. Bournemouth showed last week against Brighton what they can do if you don’t turn up.”


Bournemouth wins: 3

Draws: 1

Aston Villa wins: 4


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Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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