LINEUPS AND BENCH
In a Boxing Day contest where both sides want to erase their pre-Christmas defeats, West Ham United travel to Bournemouth to kick off the second half of a Premier League season that could be a fight for survival to the end.
David Moyes side venture north after the 3-2 defeat to Newcastle, snapping a solid two weeks for the Hammers and reminding them still how bitterly disappointing the first half of their season has been. With at least two days in between holiday games, due to a Saturday before Christmas and Boxing Day in the calendar this year, the Hammers will at least not have to deal with a two games in three games brutal schedule here.
Still, changes were expected to be made by Moyes, and in comes Manuel Lanzini. The Argentine returns from his two-match suspension. Also returning to the side is James Collins, as Sir Ginger will be the Boxing Day captain. That means that Winston Reid is on the bench, while Mark Noble and Michail Antonio are out of the side altogether again.
Meanwhile for Bournemouth, an instant recovery from the 4-0 thrashing from champions-elect Manchester City is required for them. Eddie Howe knows his side could easily be in a drop zone fight all the way to the least matchday, especially if they lose at the Vitality Stadium today. But the good news for the Cherries, and bad news for West Ham, is that Josh King returns from injury. Simon Francis and Lewis Cook also get the start to facilitate Bournemouth’s spine. Jermaine Defoe is of course absent after fracturing his right ankle last week in the Carabao Cup.
It’s 17th vs 18th, in a key relegation zone battle to start the second half of the season. Who will step up and get a vital result today? Find out next.