Having bowed out of the FA Cup in a frustrating 2-0 loss to Everton, Bournemouth will now have their sights fixed solely on maintaining their Premier League status.
The Cherries will feel hard done by following their match with Everton, having remained robust and disciplined throughout the first half, and seeing Charlie Daniels’ penalty saved. Then, a lucky deflection saw Ross Barkley put the Toffees ahead before Romelu Lukaku added another.
After the game, Eddie Howe said: "We missed the penalty and it was a key moment in the game. It was a cruel deflection for the first goal which made a difference for them."
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So, now that Bournemouth’s impressive cup run has come to an end, Howe’s men will be focused on staying in the Premier League. Having lost their previous two league games, they’ll be looking to turn things around in the coming weeks.
However, looking at their next six fixtures, this could prove a hefty challenge for the Premier League’s minnows.
Their first opponent is Watford this Saturday, who sit eight points above the Cherries. This is a match Bournemouth need to win to keep themselves away from the relegation zone, and they will be hoping that they can do so.
Watford have earned the same number of points from their last six games as Bournemouth, but have enjoyed a much more fruitful campaign so far. Furthermore, they’ll go into the game with the additional boost of an FA Cup win against Leeds, not to mention a hard-fought win at Crystal Palace in their last league game.
Following this, Bournemouth are up against their local rivals Southampton, who have shown some sensational form in the last six matches, winning five and drawing the other against Chelsea. Saints travel to Vitality Stadium for this fixture, but Bournemouth’s recent home form has left much to be desired.
The two games after this are likely to be the most crucial to their season, firstly against Newcastle on March 5, and then they face Swansea on March 12. Not only are they against two teams who are also languishing in the rear end of the table, but realistically they’re Bournemouth’s most winnable games. Eddie Howe will need to thoroughly prepare his team for these matches, as dropping points here could prove disastrous come the end of the season.
Bournemouth’s final fixture in March will see them travelling to White Hart Lane, to face a Tottenham team that looks as though it has real potential to qualify for Champions League football this season.
They’ve produced an astonishing campaign so far, and Mauricio Pochettino’s team are really beginning to establish their prominence in the Premier League. A tough task for the Cherries, then.
Finally, AFCB host the intimidating presence of Manchester City on April 2, a match which is unlikely to be anything but a formality for the Sky Blues who should be challenging for the title by then.
Considering that Bournemouth splashed the cash on some quality firepower upfront, through the purchases of Lewis Grabban and Benik Afobe, they have certainly made their intentions to stay in the top division very clear, but whether or not they have the ability or unity to do so remains to be seen.
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