Bournemouth v Stoke preview: Potters visit too soon for Tommy Elphick
By Pete Hall
Last Updated: 13/02/16 2:19pm
Bournemouth's match against Stoke comes too soon for captain Tommy Elphick as the Cherries look to pull clear of the relegation zone.
Eddie Howe's side were convincingly beaten at home to Arsenal last time out, leaving them five points clear of the bottom three.
Ahead of Saturday's encounter at the Vitality Stadium, Howe has had to defend his new striker Benik Afobe, after claims from his former club Wolves that he was not trying in the final months of his spell at Molineux.
Meanwhile, Stoke travel to the south coast in disappointing form, having won just once in their past six league matches, and they haven't scored a goal in their last four.
Potters boss Mark Hughes was handed a boost ahead of Saturday's match, with forward Bojan signing a new deal that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2020.
Howe has no fresh injury or suspension worries but Elphick, who played a game behind closed doors in midweek, will not be back in time.
Max Gradel, who has been out since August with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, returned to training this week but is yet to kick a football, although Howe is confident he will play before the season ends.
Ryan Shawcross (back) and Geoff Cameron (ankle) are not yet ready to return to action, but Hughes is hopeful Jonathan Walters, sidelined last time due to a virus, will be available.
None of the previous 12 meetings between Stoke and Bournemouth in all competitions has ended as an away win (10 home wins, two draws).
Stoke earned their first Premier League win of the season in the reverse fixture in September, beating Howe's men 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
Bournemouth have won just three of their 12 Premier League games at home this season (D4 L5) - they have won more often away from home in 2015-16 (four).
Stoke have lost their last three Premier League games - they haven't lost four in a row in the Premier League since February 2012.
The Potters are without a goal in their last four successive league games and haven't scored in the competition for six hours and 12 minutes now.
The last time Stoke failed to score in five successive top-flight league games was March 1985 (eight games).
Jack Butland has been forced into making a league-high 88 saves in the Premier League this season.
Callum Wilson is still Bournemouth's top scorer in the Premier League this season (five), yet hasn't played since the end of September.
Eddie Howe's side have scored a league-high tally (eight) and proportion (28 per cent) of their goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season.
The Cherries' Dan Gosling has averaged a league-high 13.0kms per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season.
I've watched Stoke a couple of times recently and they've gone! They've lost their last two games 3-0, teams at the bottom of League Two don't even do that - that is some going. I thought Bournemouth showed Arsenal too much respect in the first half on Sunday but they did improve after the break. I fancy them to win here as long as they put in a similar display as they did against the Gunners.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Most popular Super 6 prediction: 2-1)
Bournemouth are Sky Bet's 11/10 favourites with Stoke 5/2 shots to complete the double over the Cherries, while the draw is priced at 12/5. The hosts are regarded as unlikely 14/1 shots for the drop in their first season in the top flight, while Stoke remain 7/4 for a top-half finish despite a recent run of three straight 3-0 Premier League defeats, a 18/1 chance on Saturday.
Check out tips from our Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp, Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson and Matt Le Tissier here. Bournemouth are also one of the picks in this Saturday's Soccer Saturday Price Boost. Back the Cherries, Everton and Southampton all to win enhanced from 7/1 10/1.