Bournemouth v Leicester City
Tuesday December 13, 19:45
Part of the challenge establishing yourself as a Premier League club that can compete season after season is finding consistency, and that's a quality that seems to be eluding Bournemouth at the moment. The Cherries haven't managed back-to-back victories in the top flight this season, and their last five results have been loss, win, loss, win, loss.
Manager Eddie Howe admits he's concerned by his team's recent defending. Bournemouth have leaked three goals in each of their last three matches, and overall they have conceded 25 goals in 15 matches. He is also rightly worried about how slowly his team are starting matches - they have been behind inside the first 20 minutes of their last three Premier League games.
At least there are some positives to focus on. The Cherries have scored at least once in each of their last five games, and their recent home form is strong. They have won four and only lost one of their last six top-flight clashes at the Vitality Stadium, a shock 2-1 defeat to rock-bottom Sunderland.
Jack Wilshere could return to the starting 11, while Howe has no fresh injury concerns. After helping to spark an extraordinary comeback in the recent 4-3 win over Liverpool, 22-year-old wide threat Ryan Fraser will hope to keep his place.
What a strange season it has been for the reigning champions of England. Impeccable in the Champions League (apart from the dead rubber at the end), but awful in the Premier League, at least until they blew away Pep Guardiola's Manchester City at the weekend. There was a touch of the old Foxes, as Claudio Ranieri's men attacked with pace and determination. Jamie Vardy netted a superb hat-trick in a 4-2 win that saw the champions go 3-0 up inside 20 minutes. Before that game, Vardy had scored from just two of his 17 shots.
Leicester can look forward to an intriguing Champions League last-16 clash with Sevilla in February, but until then they must concentrate on climbing the table.
That quest starts with a bid to improve a wretched run of results on the road. The Foxes have picked up just one point on their travels in the league, and Opta tell us that a defeat would see them set an unwanted new record, as no defending champions in Premier League history will have picked up so few points from their first eight away games.
One of the major reasons for this poor away form has been weak defending. The Foxes have already leaked 18 goals in seven road matches, as many goals as they conceded away from home in the whole of last season. Overall, Leicester have kept just three clean sheets in the league this term.
Danny Drinkwater is available to return to midfield after a suspension, but Danny Simpson is banned after accumulating too many yellow cards. Kasper Schmeichel may return after recovering from a broken hand.
Bournemouth are 2.546/4 favourites here, which makes sense given their recent home form, and Leicester's dreadful body of work away from the King Power Stadium. Both games between these two sides were draws last term, but another stalemate seems unlikely, as Bournemouth have drawn just three games, and the Foxes have only seen four league matches end in stalemate.
Given Leicester's superb performance against Manchester City, and the absence of any European distractions for a while, I'd be tempted to back the visitors at 3.185/40. However, it's not a bet I could make with massive confidence.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The bet I do really like is backing overs for this one. Opta tell us that Bournemouth's last three games have averaged 5.3 goals per match, and it's worth noting that four of their last five league games have seen an overs bet pay out. Six of Leicester's seven Premier League away games have featured three goals or more, and that's also true of their last seven outings in all competitions.
I was expecting Over 2.5 Goals to be shorter than 1.8910/11, but I'm glad it's not.
Leicester to win either half?
Given how badly Bournemouth have been starting games, and the fact that Leicester are on a high after that superb performance against Manchester City, it might be worth looking at backing the visitors to win at least one half on the Sportsbook at 1.9520/21. Bournemouth have lost at least one half in five of their last six games.
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.8910/11
Back Leicester to win a half at 1.9520/21 (Sportsbook)