The FA Cup quarterfinal weekend has made it the traditional light mid-March Premier League schedule. But West Ham United aren’t absent in this four match schedule, as they head to the Vitality Stadium Saturday to face Bournemouth.
Michail Antonio returns from his one match suspension, as he replaces Robert Snodgrass in the starting lineup. Slaven Bilic continues his preference for Cheikhou Kouyate at right back, as Sam Byram once again sees the bench.
Bournemouth are only six points behind West Ham, but are just five points away from 18th place Middlesbrough in the table. Eddie Howe knows that his side are far from safety, and dealing with the suspensions of Andrew Surman and Tyrone Mings (for five matches) after their courageous 1-1 draw at Manchester United last weekend must be quickly forgotten. In for the unavailable duo of Mings and Surman in the lineup for the hosts are Simon Francis and Dan Gosling.
West Ham secured their first league win at the London Stadium back in August with a 1-0 win vs Bournemouth. Antonio’s late goal was enough on a day when Harry Arter was sent off for two yellows seven minutes before the deciding tally. Can West Ham secure the double, or will Bournemouth get another vital result to inch away from danger.
We’ll find out.
LINEUPS AND BENCH
FIRST HALF REVIEW
Two missed Bournemouth penalties, two class goals, and tons of action are the summary for a great first half of pure entertainment.
Slaven Bilic knows his side are lucky that they aren’t behind at least two goals, as Bournemouth’s sense of urgency lead to them dominating the opening interval. Whether on the left with Aaron Cresswell double teammed, on the right with Kouyate and Feghouli not able to deal with the combination of Charlie Daniels and Mark Pugh or in the middle as Jose Fonte and Winston Reid were manhandled by Benik Afobe and Josh King, the hosts had their way with the Hammers everywhere.
Bilic will need both Feghouli and Lanzini to at least improve their positioning defensively. For all the quality they bring in attack, their ability to defend against quality offensive fullbacks is non-existent, leaving Cresswell to continue his inconsistent spotty play and Kouyate’s struggles at makeshift right back obvious to all.
Will Byram come on in the second half again? We’ll see.