Huddersfield can frustrate in-form Bournemouth
Terriers can show their teeth
BT Sport 1, midday Sunday
It might seem easy to be seduced by Bournemouth’s purple patch which has seen them soar to mid-table but as boss Eddie Howe himself points out: “The trouble with form is that it’s temporary."
Howe’s not wrong, and the idea that the Cherries are a must-bet anywhere and against anyone is pretty hard to swallow.
Bookmakers aren’t wrong to make them favourites at the John Smith’s Stadium given their own decent form and Huddersfield’s alarming slide down the Premier League table.
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But Bournemouth are no Manchester City and Howe is spot on – form at the level they play at is temporary and this match isn’t as straightforward as the odds might suggest.
This match looks set to be fairly tight and the draw may well be the bet.
And what Huddersfield would give for a draw. They had three in a row after winning at Watford before Christmas and went into the New Year in 11th place and sitting relatively pretty, six points clear of danger.
Five straight losses later they are marooned in the bottom three. A crumb of comfort will have come from Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Birmingham in the FA Cup, though it took two hours in the getting. But David Wagner sent out a strong side and confidence from a win – any win – can be taken into this encounter.
Scoring four goals was important as well because Town have become increasingly timid in matches. Granted, Birmingham are modest Championship opponents but any win is a good win and goals breed confidence.
They should get a chance to play against a Bournemouth side who may well make a tactical tweak minus team leader Steve Cook, who has strained a hamstring.
Bournemouth will travel with confidence because of their form and also with memories of having thumped Huddersfield 4-0 at Dean Court in November. Callum Wilson bagged a hat-trick that day.
They haven’t lost to a bottom-half opponent since August and any side who can win 3-0 at Chelsea has got to believe they can win anywhere.
But Wagner doesn’t sound overly perturbed by what happened at Bournemouth three months ago. More of a concern is the way in which they are folding in games. Huddersfield are ninth in a first-half only league table but 33 of the 46 goals they’ve conceded (71 per cent) have been after half-time. They need to be able to see games out.
They also need to utilise home advantage – they’ve clocked up an acceptable 16 points from their 12 home matches with four of their five home defeats coming against Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
1pt 9-4 Betfair
Elias Kachunga is out for another month. Tommy Smith is out while Laurent Depoitre and Christopher Schindler are doubts.
Centre-back Steve Cook (hamstring) joins Jermain Defoe on the sidelines. Adam Smith is a doubt.
Bournemouth have been level at half-time in a league-high 15 matches.
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