This weekend gives us a first in the Premier League era; a clash between the Cherries and the Foxes, with Bournemouth and Leicester going head to head at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday. The latter have made a fantastic start to the new season, picking up 7 points from a possible 9. In fact, no side has won more points in the Premier League since April 1st than Leicester City (29).
Despite their positive start, Claudio Ranieri will not be getting carried away, and will still be aware of his side’s main aim this season; staying in the top flight. That sacred ’40 point mark’ is still 11 wins away. Indeed, this weekend’s fixture will have been highlighted by both ‘The Tinkerman’ and Eddie Howe as an opportunity to pick up precious points.
Both sides come into the game following convincing wins in the Capital One Cup. Leicester triumphed at Bury, whilst Bournemouth cruised past Hartlepool. With 98 goals in the league last year, Eddie Howe’s men seemed to be struggling to find their feet in the Premier League, drawing blanks in the first two games. Scoring eight times in their latest two may well signal the start of a purple patch in front of goal for the newcomers.
There is a distinct lack of interesting facts and stats about this fixture, on so few occasions have the teams and, indeed, the two managers come into contact with one another. Since their name change to AFC Bournemouth in 1972, the Cherries have locked horns with Leicester City just eight times. In this time, the record stands at 5-0-3 in favour of the Foxes, with each game decided by a single goal. In fact, all of Bournemouth’s games so far in the Premier League have been won or lost by the same margin.
Only six sides conceded more penalties than Leicester City last season. Conversely, Bournemouth have won more penalties since the start of last season than any other club in the top four tiers (17).
I am aware that I’m scraping the barrel.
Eddie Howe made eleven changes to his side for the cup game at Hartlepool, so logic would dictate that another eleven man swing will follow for the league game on Saturday. After opening their Premier League account at the third time of asking, Howe may stick with the line-up that played so well at Upton Park. As the old adage goes, ‘never change a winning team.’
‘Tinkerman’ Ranieri has not been living up to his nickname since returning to the Premier League. Normally fond of minor squad rotations, the Italian has named the same starting XI for all three matches of his Leicester tenure. With no new injury concerns or suspensions, it seems a good bet that he will also name an unchanged side.
Callum Wilson – When it comes to the newly-promoted sides, it’s often the same old story. Play lovely football, earn plenty of plaudits, but never stick the ball in the back of the net and end up straight back where they came from. Goal scorers are gold dust in the Premier League, so the burden falls once again on Callum Wilson to fire Bournemouth towards survival. The former Coventry City forward was the star of the show last time out as the Cherries squeezed past West Ham. Netting a fabulous hat-trick, Wilson is only the fifth player in Premier League history to score three times away from home for a newly promoted side (after Phillips, Stewart, Earnshaw and Tchoyi). Despite sitting pretty in 2nd, Leicester are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Wilson will be salivating at the prospect of opening his Premier League account at the Vitality. He will play a key role if Bournemouth are to inflict a first defeat of the season upon the Foxes.
Riyad Mahrez – There has been one common conversation in boozers across the UK since August 8th; ‘get that lad Mahrez in your fantasy football team.’ The Algerian international has scored four goals in his first three games this season and has been one of the main reasons for Leicester’s early success. The 24-year-old winger has dazzled since joining from Le Havre with his close control and trickery, terrorising some of the most experienced defenders in the division. From Sunday League to the Champions League, any full-back will tell you that their worst nightmare is coming up against a winger who wants to take you on at pace. Mahrez is exactly that, and may experience some joy against a Bournemouth back four who conceded some sloppy goals last weekend. Incidentally, for all you fantasy football lovers, he also takes the pens.
All good things must come to an end, and I can see Bournemouth bursting Leicester’s bubble this weekend. It may seem that I’m writing the away side off without a second thought. I’m not, but coming off the back of an important away win, the Cherries will be desperate to get off the mark at home. The fans will be bouncing, the stadium will be rocking, and I expect Bournemouth to take all 3 points as a result.
Bournemouth 2-0 Leicester City