by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe emphasised the need to focus on the Cherries’ next few games, after recent results condemned his side to the relegation zone.
After a tough period of three consecutive losses, albeit against Manchester United, Liverpool and runaway leaders Manchester City, Bournemouth have fallen to 18th place and now look ahead to a crucial showdown with fellow strugglers West Ham on Boxing Day.
The Hammers have drastically improved under new manager David Moyes, but after a 3-2 home defeat to Newcastle United are now just one point above the Cherries. The match at the Vitality promises to be a heated affair with both sides scrapping for Premier League survival, and Bournemouth hold an unwanted poor record at home - with only eight points picked up on the south coast so far.
After the bruising reverse at the Etihad Stadium, Howe said: “What a run of fixtures we’ve had - but we’re through that now.
“Playing four top sides consecutively is tough, but we now have to focus on the games we have coming up.
“It’s a key period for us.”
The Cherries will also have several key players missing in the relegation six-pointer. Junior Stanislas limped off in Manchester after a hamstring strain and follows Josh King, Charlie Daniels, Harry Arter and Jermain Defoe on the sidelines during an important run of games.
Defoe has been ruled out by the club for eight to ten weeks with a fracture to his right ankle, after a challenge sustained in the Carabao Cup quarter final defeat to Chelsea.
The statement from the Cherries said: ‘AFC Bournemouth can confirm that striker Jermain Defoe suffered a fracture of his right ankle in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea.
The 35-year-old sustained the injury in a tackle in the opening minutes of the tie at Stamford Bridge and was subsequently assessed by the club’s medical staff before being sent to see a specialist on Friday.
Defoe is expected to be sidelined for around eight to ten weeks.’
In his post match reaction at the Etihad, Howe gave an update on the state of his squad before the Boxing Day clash: “We have seven players, well eight now with Junior limping off, we’ve got big players missing.
“With the tough run and the injuries we had, we couldn’t rotate as much as we’d have liked over this period.
“I need a full squad to pick from. Junior limped off and he felt his hamstring. It was his decision to withdraw himself and I doubt he’ll be fit for West Ham.”
Kick off at the Vitality on Tuesday is 3:00pm.