Following their 1-0 win over South Coast rivals Southampton in midweek, Gary O’Neil’s Bournemouth took another step closer to securing their Premier League (PL) survival. The manager responded to the result with his customary lack of emotion, but he did tell supporters that his team wouldn’t settle for 36 points because mathematical safety hasn’t been established despite their recent run of three victories in a row.
The Cherries will do well to get up and add to their point total in a Sunday match since they have a staggering 73% losing percentage in Premier League action on this particular day (W6, D2, L22). Despite a current streak of more than three hours without a home league goal, Bournemouth has at least scored in three of their four PL home games against teams that started the round in the bottom five.
The survival chances of 16th placed Leeds, who escaped being further nearer to the drop zone after a 1-1 draw against Leicester last time out, are increased by a four matches losing streak (D1, L3). Leeds wasted a lead, so the outcome will have felt like a setback for the manager Javi Gracia, despite his comments following the game that “now is the moment we have to be strong.”
The Yorkshire team can be extremely confident thanks to an astounding 77% win-rate in league play against Bournemouth (W10, D2, L1), which includes a thrilling 4-3 comeback win in the opposite H2H. However, their recent streak of just one victory in their last ten Premier League away games may temper their expectations. The only team with fewer away points than Leeds this season is Nottingham Forest, therefore the Whites’ attempt to survive may depend on them improving on a run of just one clean sheet in their 16 league visits.
Marcus Tavernier’s performance against Leeds earlier this season earned him an 8.5 rating, making it one of his top three performances overall ratings. Jack Harrison led Leeds in scoring against Leicester, continuing a strong run of play that has seen him contribute to five goals in his past eight games (G3, A2).
A hamstring ailment caused Bournemouth’s match winning winger Tavernier to leave the game against Southampton late. O’Neil is optimistic that Tavernier did not suffer another significant injury.
Hamed Traore (ankle), Junior Stanislas, and Ryan Fredericks (calf) are already out for the weekend, while Jack Stephens is back in the lineup after missing the midweek match against his parent club, and Matias Vina and Marcos Senesi picked up cramps at St Mary’s.
Adam Smith and Dango Ouattara should compete for the right starting spot as Sunday’s game is undoubtedly too close for Tavernier to recover from his issue, but O’Neil shouldn’t see any reason to disturb the peace unless his jellied legs force him to do so.
The same thing happened to Leeds forward Sinisterra before Bournemouth’s goal scorer got hurt on Thursday. Sinisterra stayed down after a collision from Caglar Soyuncu and was taken off just 12 minutes after opening the scoring.
The Colombian has already received the heartbreaking news that he will miss the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury, joining a trio of other thigh victims who are currently receiving medical attention: Tyler Adams, Stuart Dallas, and Maximilian Wober.
Wilfried Gnonto will likely watch the beginning of this game from the bench once more after being controversially snubbed by Gracia on Tuesday when Summerville came on to replace the injured Sinisterra.
Bournemouth possible starting lineup
Neto, Mepham, Kelly, Senesi, Ouattara, Lerma, Rothwell, Vina, Christie, Billing, and Solanke.
Leeds United possible starting lineup
Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo, McKennie, Roca, Harrison, Rodrigo, Summerville and Bamford.
We predict: Bournemouth 1-1 Leeds United
Fresh injury concerns regarding their midweek goal scorers are not what either team needs, but Leeds showed more defensive resilience on Tuesday and will have an extra two days of rest compared to their exhausted hosts.
There shouldn’t be a repeat of November’s seven goals extravaganza because both teams are wary of making costly mistakes at this point in the season, but Bournemouth should make up for their recent poor home performances to gain a crucial point in their fight for survival, putting Leeds at risk of falling back into the bottom three.