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Jun 20, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
Crystal PalaceCrystal Palace

Smith (45+2'), Cook (67'), Cook (86')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Milivojevic (12'), Ayew (23')
Ayew (45'), Ward (71')

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between relegation-threatened Bournemouth and Crystal Palace, including predictions, team news and lineups.

The first Saturday of Premier League action after coronavirus concludes with the competition's first ever live match on the BBC as Bournemouth welcome Crystal Palace to the Vitality Stadium.

Eddie Howe's side went into lockdown in the relegation zone, but they are level on points with 16th-placed West Ham United and 17th-placed Watford after 29 games of the season.

Match preview

Eddie Howe can justifiably point to a number of injuries to key players this season, but there is no getting away from the fact that the 2019-20 campaign has been the Cherries' worst since winning promotion to the top flight.

Bournemouth have their lowest points tally at this stage of a Premier League campaign, but it is the statistics behind that which give the best idea of why Howe's proven formula has struggled to work as much this term.

So far in 2019-20 Bournemouth are averaging their lowest average possession (44.3%), lowest passing accuracy (75.9%), fewest shots on target per game (3.4) and most shots on target faced per game (5.3) figures from any of their previous five Premier League campaigns.

Simply put, they are not seeing enough of the ball and when they do have it they are struggling to both keep hold of it and create chances with it, while shipping more chances when the opposition is in possession too.

The break came at a good time for Bournemouth, allowing a number of their aforementioned injury concerns to recover while also stopping the rot of a four-game winless run from which they took only one point.

Bournemouth's poor form stretches further back than that, though; they have taken a league-low eight points from their last 12 Premier League games, losing eight of those since beating Chelsea in December.

The positive news heading into Saturday's match is that all eight of those points have come at home, where Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last three top-flight outings, and in theory the lack of home support would affect Bournemouth the least of any Premier League team given that they have by far the lowest stadium capacity.

Howe will know that their home form is likely to form the foundation of any survival push, but also that their away form needs to significantly improve as well if they are to steer clear of the drop.

Another trend the Cherries will need to improve on is their defensive record; they have conceded in each of their last 12 outings - the longest current run in the division - and have kept a league-low four clean sheets this season.

On that front, Crystal Palace appear to be the ideal opposition for them to return against, given that the Eagles have scored just 26 times in their 29 games this season - only Newcastle United and Norwich City have scored fewer.

Indeed, Palace have not netted more than twice in any of their top-flight games this term, last doing so in a 5-3 win over Saturday's opponents on the final day of last season.

A lack of goals at one end is less of a problem if it is matched by a lack of goals at the other, though, and Palace went into lockdown on a run of three consecutive clean sheets in three consecutive 1-0 wins.

The Eagles have never before won four top-flight games in a row without conceding and so could make a slice of club history this weekend, while they last won four Premier League games in a row almost two years ago.

The flurry of points lifted Palace comfortably away from danger and they need only one more point to reach the magic 40-point mark, although their Premier League status for next season is effectively secured already.

Roy Hodgson may well have loftier ambitions for his side than merely avoiding relegation too - victory on Saturday could lift Palace as high as eighth, above Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, and not entirely out of contention for a European spot.

Bournemouth Premier League form: WWLLDL
Bournemouth form (all competitions): LWLLDL

Crystal Palace Premier League form: LLLWWW

Team News

Howe has confirmed that he will no longer select contract rebel Ryan Fraser, who has refused to sign a short-term extension to his current deal and will therefore leave on June 30.

Simon Francis, Andrew Surman, Artur Boruc and Charlie Daniels have all put pen to paper on contracts to see them through to the end of the campaign, though, and all but the injured Daniels are expected to be available.

Howe could also welcome long-term absentee David Brooks back into his squad, while Phillip Billing is set to undergo a late fitness test on an ankle injury.

Callum Wilson was in good form before lockdown, netting three goals in his last six games, but he has scored just once in his last 10 home Premier League outings.

Crystal Palace have Mamadou Sakho back available after he returned to fitness during lockdown, but Jeffrey Schlupp, Martin Kelly and James Tomkins are all sidelined.

Jordan Ayew is expected to lead the line again having earned his side 14 points with his eight league goals this season - without that haul, the Eagles would sit below Bournemouth in 19th.

Indeed, Palace are unbeaten in matches where Ayew has scored this term, and they will also hope to have a goal threat from Patrick van Aanholt, who scored home and away against the Cherries last season.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Ramadale; A Smith, S Cook, Ake, Rico; King, Billing, Lerma, L Cook, Stanislas; C Wilson

Crystal Palace possible starting lineup:
Guaita; Ward, Sakho, Cahill, Van Aanholt; Kouyate, Milivojevic, McArthur; Ayew, Benteke, Zaha

We say: Bournemouth 1-1 Crystal Palace

This match pits a porous defence against a misfiring attack, and we are struggling to split them.

It is a contest which could go either way, particularly in such unique circumstances as these, and we are sitting on the fence with a score draw.

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