Bournemouth are hosting us at the weekend. With all due respect to them, it doesn’t seem like yesterday that the Cherries were a bit of a nowhere team based in some seaside town a long, long way down south. While Southampton have nearly always been at least pretty good, Portsmouth had their time to shine in the 2000s and people have bleated on about Brighton for years, yet of the south coast clubs Bournemouth have kind of crept up on the outside lane and are celebrating their second year in the Premiership. Their survival isn’t quite guaranteed, and there’s no doubt they’ll see this home tie against us as a prime opportunity to pick up some points. Knowing us they’ll get them too. A hat trick for Joshua King, I reckon, even though they’re without Jack Wilshere, who because the press have heard of him is the first point of interest for any Cherries related banter.
My feelings about this one are mixed. I always admire so-called little teams that beat the odds, but we need a victory like Ray Milland needs a found weekend and I would imagine everyone at the Riverside seeing this, followed by the Sunderland game, as being last chance saloon. Win here and against the Mackems and we’re right back in the mix. It sounds like a tall order, hell it is a tall order, but we can all dream, can’t we?
Steve Aggers Agnew has confirmed that Legbiter and Victor will be missing in action, while Fabio and Gestede are doubts, but he’s hopeful. It sounds as though Gaston will be playing – which one will we get? Sir Cantbearsed, or the dynamo who scored in our 2-0 over Bournemouth earlier in the season? It’s incredible to think that a double over them could be on, which would make 40% of our victories this season taking place against the Cherries. Madness. Without wanting to come across as the voice of doom, I predict nothing other than a smart home win. We just don’t look as though we have anything better in us to produce beyond a battling defeat, and while you can never criticise a team for going down fighting that isn’t what we need right now.
Elsewhere, the vultures are circling. As Ben Gibson continues to be passed around the big clubs while the media watches on, shaking it’s head ruefully and tutting over his £30 million price tag, Watford are after Marten de Roon, a likely departee when we fall through the trapdoor. Boro in turn are making eyes at Aaron Mooy, the Huddersfield midfielder on loan from Manchester City who’s made it into the Championship Team of the Year. Speaking of which, not a single Boro players has come close to this season’s Premiership Select. Funny that. You might expect a sneaky nod for the battling qualities of Adam Clayton, but in typical London bias they’ve gone for some bloke called Kante instead.