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Where will Eddie Howe's Bournemouth end the season?

Monday 17th April 2017
Eddie Howe is one of the brightest English managers in the game. During his second spell at the south coast club, he's managed to guide them to the Premier League. But can Howe's Bournemouth retain their top division status for another season?
Bournemouth currently lie in 16th position, just seven points above the dreaded drop. Howe's team enjoyed a promising start to their second consecutive Premier League season with an astonishing 6-1 win over Hull City early in their campaign. They continued to impress and defy all odds in the Premier League. At present, many now consider Bournemouth a regular in England's top league, having successfully consolidated their Premier League status last season. With the campaign drawing to its conclusion, I look at Bournemouth's probable league finish.

The Cherries have battled through a gruelling past three games, all against top sides: Liverpool, Chelsea and most recently Tottenham Hotspur. They managed to pick up a point in a 2-2 draw against a speedy Liverpool attack, whilst suffering 3-1 and 4-0 defeats to Chelsea and Spurs. These were heavy defeats for the south coast club, which is sure to have an adverse effect on the side. They have also suffered recently at the hands of Premier League fixture organisers, having played three difficult games, consecutively. Howe's Bournemouth, however, has instilled a unique philosophy, which means they can recover from their poor run of results.

The future looks bright for Howe's men, with relatively straightforward fixtures to end their 2016/17 Premier League season. Their final five games are against Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Stoke City, Burnley and lastly reigning league champions, Leicester City. With Bournemouth sitting seven points above the drop and taking into account the fixtures left to play, they will only have themselves to blame should they encounter the worst.

The Premier League is as tight as ever, only nine points separate 16th placed Bournemouth and 8th placed West Brom. Realistically, Howe could obtain a top half finish this season. Surely that would meet the Bournemouth board's objectives? One aspect that the board won't be happy about is their goal difference. Currently, it stands at a dismal -18, which could be drastically improved for a club with Bournemouth's quality. Luckily for Howe's men, the sides in and around them also have a poor goal difference, as every team above Bournemouth, with the exception of the top seven, having a negative goal difference.

Perhaps Howe's Bournemouth have been fortunate with the season's goal difference aspect, but their record of winning crucial games certainly isn't luck. In my opinion, fans can expect a finish between 10th- 13th position, considering the club's relatively easy remaining fixtures. This should give the Cherries an even more solid platform to grow as they look to attract more and more of the world's best talent to bring to Dean Court. Bournemouth are clearly one of the smallest clubs to have ever graced the English top flight, but I'm sure football fans would love to see them remain in the Premier League for a third consecutive season.
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

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