Bournemouth v Middlesbrough preview: Relegation clash at Vitality Stadium
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 22/04/17 1:43pm
Bournemouth could take a big step towards Premier League survival if they can beat relegation-threatened Middlesbrough at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
The Cherries have not won in their last four matches and were beaten 4-0 by Tottenham last weekend.
They are 16th in the table, seven points above the relegation zone with five games left to play.
"I'm not going to say that one win will make us safe but we're very motivated to win this game," said manager Eddie Howe.
"It will be an interesting game, both teams are desperate to win, it should make it a really good spectacle, but hopefully one we can excel in."
While Bournemouth are close to securing their spot in the Premier League for next season, Middlesbrough are slipping towards relegation.
Steve Agnew's side have not won in their last 15 league games and are six points from safety, albeit with a game in hand.
Bournemouth will make a late call on midfielder Dan Gosling as he recovers from a knee problem.
On-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is out for the season after suffering a fractured leg during last week's defeat at Tottenham, so Lewis Cook could be drafted into the side after coming off the bench at White Hart Lane.
Midfielder Andrew Surman continues his recovery from a knee problem, while forward Callum Wilson, goalkeeper Adam Federici and defender Rhoys Wiggins all continue their recoveries from their own knee injuries.
Calum Chambers is back in contention for Middlesbrough. He was ineligible to play in the 2-1 defeat to parent club Arsenal on Monday night having been missing with a foot injury since February, but has trained this week and could be involved.
Full-back Fabio (knee) and striker Rudy Gestede (foot) are also hopeful of proving their fitness, but goalkeeper Victor Valdes (ribs) and midfielder Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) are out.
The Cherries have never lost a home league match to Middlesbrough in any tier (W2 D4), keeping three clean sheets in the process.
Bournemouth are one of two sides Middlesbrough could win both Premier League games against this season - the other being Sunderland.
Rudy Gestede's only Premier League win as a player came against Bournemouth, netting the winner for Aston Villa in August 2015 (W1 D13 L32).
Boro scored twice in their last Premier League away match, more than in their previous eight on the road combined (1).
Bournemouth have let in 2+ goals in seven of their last eight home Premier League games, keeping one clean sheet against Swansea.
Steve Cook is the only Bournemouth player to have played every minute of this campaign (2970). Ben Gibson has also done this for Boro.
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Middlesbrough have won just one of their last 29 top-flight away games, beating Sunderland in August 2016. (D8 L20).
It's looking bleak for Boro at the moment. They need to score goals but I can't see them getting enough to keep them up.
Bournemouth are strong at home and when we watch Middlesbrough chase games - like they did at Hull - they get left exposed at the back.
Steve Agnew will be targeting this game and Sunderland at home as six points but I find it tough to bring myself to back Boro.
The Cherries score goals at the Vitality and if they get two on Saturday, can you really see Middlesbrough getting three?
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (Sky Bet odds 14/1)
Bournemouth are Sky Bet's 5/6 favourites with Middlesbrough 16/5 for a vital victory, while the draw is priced at 13/5. Steve Agnew's men are up against even longer odds to avoid relegation at 12/1 to stay up, while the Cherries are considered all but safe at 66/1 to go down.
Josh King heads the first goalscorer betting at 9/2 while Alvaro Negredo is considered the visitors' main hope at 13/2 to net first.
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