Bournemouth and Swansea are battling it out for vital points at the top end of the Championship. Mark O'Haire previews their contest at Vitality Stadium.
"The Swans boast the division’s joint-best defence and have shipped multiple goals in only five outings"
Bournemouth v Swansea
Tuesday March 16, 19:45
Bournemouth drop vital points
Bournemouth head coach Jonathan Woodgate insisted the Cherries were like "two different teams" in contrast between the first and second half displays against Barnsley on Saturday. The Dorset club had come from behind to lead 2-1 against the Tykes at Vitality Stadium, thanks to goals from Arnaut Danjuma and Dominic Solanke.
But Woodgate saw his side capitulate in the second period, with Carlton Morris's header via a set-piece 10 minutes from time sealing a damaging 3-2 defeat for the home side. Bournemouth were out-shot 17-10 and the result leaves recently-relegated Cherries five points outside of the play-off positions with just 10 games to play.
Woodgate said, "It's a chalk and cheese performance. Very good first half - not good second half. I just don't understand the mentality in the first half and second half. I thought we were very good first half and played some really good football - the second half we didn't. The game is not for 45 minutes - it's for 90 and you've got to keep on going until the end."
Swansea earn hard-fought victory
Swansea supremo Steve Cooper admitted gritty matches have become the theme throughout football of late after his Swans side claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Luton on Saturday. The Welsh club claimed all three points at Kenilworth Road thanks to Conor Hourihane's early strike - his fifth since he joined the club on loan from Aston Villa.
Victory over Nathan Jones' side lifted the Swans up to second place in the Championship, although the Hatters created numerous chances to earn something for their efforts. And the Swansea boss accepted that sides have been more pragmatic of late as they continue to adjust to the rigours of what is a brutal campaign.
Swansea made five games for the contest and Cooper was pleased to pick up maximum points considering the circumstances. He said, "Always happy with three points. A clean sheet, we scored a good goal, and overall, it was a really tough game. Luton don't lose many games. With the pitch, the wind, it had the making of the type of game it was, which wasn't a pretty one."
Bournemouth and Swansea have crossed swords on seven occasions since their days in the bottom two tiers of the EFL with the Cherries enjoying a W4-D3-L0 supremacy. The hosts have won each of their last three league encounters hosting the Swans since 2015/16 and come into this latest head-to-head with five successive clean sheets against Swansea.
Bournemouth 2.226/5 were unbeaten in Championship action until November but the Cherries have struggled to find consistency thereafter, leading to Jason Tindall's dismissal. The hosts have proven more consistent in their home surroundings W10-D3-L5, although results since Christmas (W5-D3-L8) have caused concern as form has dissipated.
Swansea 3.505/2 continue to put themselves into automatic promotion contention with Steve Cooper's rock-solid competitors suffering only six defeats in their opening 35 Championship outings (W20-D9-L6). The Swans boast the division's joint-best defence and have shipped multiple goals in only five outings. City have posted W9-D4-L4 on their travels.
It's been feast or famine for goals backers following Bournemouth this season. A chunky 36% of Championship contests have concluded with fewer than two goals, whilst a healthy 31% of matches have featured four goals or more. Seven of the hosts' most recent 11 have returned Over 2.5 Goals 2.0621/20 with the hosts keeping four shutouts in 16 since Christmas.
Swansea's tally of 1.97 goals per-game is also amongst the league's lowest, as a huge 26/35 (74%) of games also produced Under 2.5 Goals 1.748/11. Away from the Liberty Stadium, 13 of the 17 Swans' fixtures have featured fewer than three goals with Steve Cooper's men seeing BTTS bank on only eight occasions. Another tight tussle is anticipated here.
Once again, I'd be happy to side with Swansea in the Double Chance market alongside Under 3.5 Goals for a 2.03 shot on the Same Game Multi. It's landed in 28 of Swansea's 25 Championship fixtures this season and makes sense with Bournemouth stuttering for form with the final furlong in-sight.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 122.00 pts
Returned: 134.09 pts