In the 24th round of matches of the 2017/2018 English Top-Flight campaign, David Moyes’ West Ham will play host to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in an all-bottom half clash, one that could go a long way to deciding how the two team’s seasons pan out.
The Hammers are fresh from an FA Cup Third Round Replay triumph over Shrewsbury Town on home soil on Tuesday night, while the Cherries have had a day fewer rest having been knocked out of the Competition by Wigan Athletic in Lancashire, making the hosts the clear favourites going into the affair.
The encounter is scheduled to take place at 3 PM GMT tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 20 January 2018) and as is custom with traditional starts of that time, there will be no live Television Coverage available for viewing in the United Kingdom.
However, you catch live Radio commentary of the affair on BBC Radio London, or, alternatively, stay right where you are here with us for a Live Blog, including live and exclusive build-up, text commentary and reaction live from the Press Box of the former Olympic Stadium.
The visit of Howe’s Cherries will take place at the club’s London Stadium, with a capacity of 57,000 and the option to go high into the 70,000s it is one of the most spectacular arenas in English Football.
Originally opening in 2012 for the London Olympics, the Ground’s footballing existence has been somewhat marred by violence and crowd unrest, not to mention supporter’s attitudes towards it.
This was catalysed early in this season when the first-team stars, then under Slaven Bilic, were forced to play the first four games of the season away from home due to Stratford hosting the World Athletics Championships.
But, the Stadium is slowly starting to feel more like home for the Claret & Blue Army, and today will be only the second time that the team from the South Coast have visited Stratford, losing out to Michail Antonio’s header in their first, the first ever PL match in E20.
Irons Boss Moyes confirmed in his Pre-AFC Bournemouth Press Conference at Rush Green yesterday, which MooreThanJustAClub were fortunate enough to be in that he still has an entourage of injury troubles to worry about.
While the trio of Javier Hernandez, Cheikhou Kouyate and Declan Rice are all expected back after respective injuries and illness, Ghanaian striker Andre Ayew will be assessed on the day, while all of the remaining long-termers remain side-lined.
Meanwhile, AFC Manager Howe has some concerns of his own, namely in the form of dangerous attacking pair Norwegian International Josh King and ex-Hammer Junior Stanislas, both will be facing late fitness tests to see if they will feature.
However, the away side will be welcoming a number of their first-team starts that were rested for the trip to the DW Stadium in midweek back, these include the likes of Jordon Ibe and Callum Wilson, the latter of whom has an impressive scoring record against the East Londoners.
The teams of AFC Bournemouth and West Ham United have met just ten 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 on three occasions.
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 two were embroiled in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Vitality Stadium with James Collins heading the visitors ahead early on to be pegged back by Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake, before Marko Arnautovic double looked to have won it for Moyes’ boys, but Wilson struck late in controversial circumstances for a point for his side.
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 Howe, they’ve flourished and have been able to keep that for two seasons, Bournemouth currently sit 13th in the League though, just two places and one point below the Irons, they’ve only registered one win in 2018 so far, however.
Who Is Officiating?
Experienced Select Group Referee Martin Atkinson will be the man in the middle in East London, with Lee Betts and Stephen Child acting as his Assistants, and fellow Referee Lee Mason in the role of Fourth Official.
So, now that the London Stadium scene has been well and truly set for what promises to be an intriguing afternoon of action, can the hosts make it three on the bounce and take another leap towards safety?
Or, can the visitors cause an upset to bolster their own chances of avoiding the Relegation trap door? Think you know? Be sure to head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter to cast your late score predictions and join the pre-match discussion.