Bournemouth’s smash-and-grab thrilling draw against Everton and 1-0 win away to Chelsea in the last two weeks may have blinkered your vision and convinced you that the Cherries have the necessary tools to hold on to their status as a Premier League side come May.
But punters don’t seem as easily fooled, and ahead of their Saturday night clash with Manchester United, Bournemouth remain not only the most popular bet to be relegated this season, but also to finish bottom of the heap in five months time.
Eddie Howe’s side are only avoiding relegation courtesy of goal difference at the moment, and slim margins like that can change awfully quickly. The unexpected victory against Chelsea ended a winless run of eight games and almost a third of punters fancy that kind of form to take Bournemouth back down to the Championship. Whilst ante-post money on Watford and Leicester to suffer the dreaded drop has eased significantly, and there’s been a rush of support for Aston Villa and Norwich to fall through the trap door, money on Bournemouth has been as consistent and relentless and your mother-in-law’s ever so slightly racist rants.
More than a quarter of punters in the book also fancy the Cherries to finish stone-last in the league this season – they’re currently seven points above a hopeless Aston Villa in 20th.
Where are Bournemouth’s biggest issues and why are punters so confident they’re going to go down? Well for starters they have the worst defence in the league, keeping just two clean sheets in 15 matches, and conceding an average of two goals every game.
Going forward they actually have more goals than nine other top flight sides, although almost half of their 18 goals have come from Callum Wilson and Glenn Murray. Unfortunately Wilson is likely to miss the remainder of the season after rupturing his cruciate ligament at the end of September. Murray on the other hand has three goals in his last seven league games, however when you’re relying on a man whose top flight record averages out at a goal every four games to score the crucial goals to prevent relegation, you may be clutching at straws faster than a masturbating scarecrow.
Can Manchester United heap more pressure on Bournemouth? Bar two six-goal thrillers (the 3-3 draw with Everton and the 5-1 defeat to Tottenham) the other five of Bournemouth’s home games have all featured under 2.5 goals. Five of Man United’s last six games have also featured under 2.5 goals, so it would surprise no-one if this was a tight affair – and the odds on under reflects that at a skinny .
However Louis van Gaal’s side have lost just one of the last 11 in the league, and despite a hat-full of mediocre performances they’re knocking up points on the board. They’ve kept nine clean sheets this season – more than anyone else in the league, and are to keep another on Saturday night.
The pressure is on the Red Devils to bounce back from a disappointing Champions League exit and grab this Premier League season by the balls. If they win on Saturday expect it to be by a slim margin – half of the Cherries defeats have been by a single goal – so United to win 1-0 may take your fancy at . Anthony Martial hasn’t scored a league goal since September 20, but playing up top through the middle with Juan Mata in behind suited him as he shone in Wolfsburg scoring the opener, and if Wayne Rooney is still sidelined on Saturday night Martial could be the first goalscorer play at .
If you’re looking to throw a bit of spice on your Saturday night, Martial to score in a 1-0 win for the Red Devils may be a long-shot at 25/1, but the thought of turning £5 into £130 two weeks before Christmas has us feeling giddy. Unfortunately for Bournemouth fans, it might be a case of enjoying every top flight game before it’s too late…