In the Twentieth round of matches of the 2017/2018 Premier League campaign, David Moyes’ West Ham United travel to face off with Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth in what promises to be a gritty Christmas Relegation six-pointer.
The Cherries go into the clash off the back of a disappointing away thrashing at the hands of League leaders Manchester City, while the Hammers are also fresh from a defeat, theirs coming on home soil against fellow strugglers Newcastle United, balancing the scales nicely for an intriguing affair.
The game is scheduled to kick-off at 3 PM on Boxing Day (26 December 2017) and as is customary with starts of that time, there will be no live Television coverage available in the UK.
However, live Radio commentary of the matchup can be found on BBC Radio London, but if you don’t have access to a Radio this afternoon, you can be sure to find live build-up, updates and reaction from the South Coast if you head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter.
Bournemouth’s traditional home Ground of the Vitality Stadium, formerly Dean Court, will play host to the visit of the Irons, it opened in 1910 and has been the home of the Cherries ever since.
With a capacity of just over 11,000, the arena is currently the smallest Ground in the entirety of the Premier League, but the club have made their plans to build a bigger and modern alternative clear in recent years.
As well as the Southern side’s Football, the Stadium has also hosted England Youth matches including England U21s and games of England Women, not to mention many a concert, that of Elton John in 2006 being the most famous.
Today will be the fifth time that the away side have visited it, losing in entertaining circumstances last time out when a Josh King hat-trick cancelled out goals from Michail Antonio and Andre Ayew to give Howe’s men a much-needed three points back in April.
Red and Blacks Manager Howe is to be without star striker and ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe after he fractured his ankle, facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, another former Iron is also a doubt in Junior Stanislas.
Hero in the last playing of this fixture King is a doubt, so too full-back Charlie Daniels, these key injuries may Well prove costly for the hosts who have had a hard time of it with fitness this season.
Meanwhile, visiting Boss Moyes gave few clues in his Pre-Match Press Conference, which MooreThanJustAClub were lucky enough to be in, held after the Magpies clash, as to which players he will have available to him.
What is know is that midfielder Manuel Lanzini should return from his two-match ban for simulation, whilst Skipper Mark Noble is still expected to be watching from the side, along with the other longer-term absentees.
The teams of AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United have met just nine times in Competition Football, the first playing of this fixture coming all the way back in 1929 in the FA Cup.
The overall record will make pleasant viewing for any member of the Claret & Blue Army as their side have the edge on things with five victories to the hosts’ two and the points being split twice.
Notable past encounters between the pair include West Ham’s 4-1 Division Two victory over the South Coast side in 1991, but their fans will surely remember their first ever PL away trip better, a remarkable 3-4 Boleyn Ground win.
Last time out, the aforementioned narrow victory for Howe’s men was played out at the Vitality, but before that, in the first ever League match at the London Stadium, an Antonio header gave the East Londoners all three points.
Association Football Club Bournemouth was first formed in 1899 as Boscombe and then Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic and have endured a steady but tough rise to the very top of English Football ever since.
A look at the history books will solemnly tell you that the club aren’t the most successful, never winning an FA Cup or League Cup and only one Football League Trophy, however, their biggest achievement did come only two years ago.
This was, of course, Promotion to the Premier League by winning the 2015/2016 Championship, less than ten years earlier they had been four Division below and in the midst of a financial crisis.
Since gaining Top-Flight status under bright young Manager Eddie Howe, they’ve flourished and have been able to keep that for two seasons, Bournemouth currently sit 18th in the League though, just one place and one point below the Irons and without a win since mid-November.
Who Is Officiating?
The youngest Select Group Referee Bobby Madley will be the man in the middle this afternoon, with Marc Perry and Simon Long acting as his Assistants and fellow Select Grouper Mike Jones playing the role of Fourth Official.
So, now that the Vitality Stadium scene has been well and truly set for an interesting afternoon of Football on the South Coast, will the Cherries be able to propel themselves out of the bottom three.
Or, can Moyes’ visitors claim a second consecutive win on the road after not picking up one in the first 17 games of the campaign? Think you know? Find us on Twitter @MooreThanAClub to join the pre-match discussion and cast your last-minute score predictions.