Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hopes for some belated festive cheer when his team take on managerless strugglers Swansea after claiming Premier League leaders Chelsea “ruined my Christmas”.
The Cherries were unable to take advantage of suspensions for key duo N’Golo Kante and Diego Costa as Antonio Conte’s men extended their remarkable winning run to 12 league matches with a comfortable 3-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.
It meant back-to-back defeats for Bournemouth, who sit 12th in the table and are seven points above the relegation zone, with second-bottom Swansea two points adrift of safety.
“The Chelsea game ruined my Christmas,” Howe told a pre-match news conference. “As always, what’s going on with our results dictates my mood and how you enjoy your social time. It obviously didn’t ruin it for the kids, but personally, it was a difficult Christmas period.
“The nature of the division is that you’re always looking over your shoulder. We also want to look up the league table, because a couple of back-to-back wins can elevate you into a really good position.
“Given our current position, we’re looking both up and down the table right now. We know this is an important game and a key period for us.
“We’ve been a bit inconsistent of late and that is something we’ve talked about internally. We want to find our level week in, week out. We’ve turned in some good performances, but we need to do that on a more regular basis. With the new year, that is something we’re keen to address.”
Howe’s Christmas was certainly more agreeable than Bob Bradley, with the former United States coach sacked after 11 matches in charge of Swansea following a 4-1 loss to West Ham.
“It’s a little difficult to predict what Swansea will do. We’ll pick our best team for the game and try and find a way to win,” said Howe, who will be greeted in the opposition dugout at the Liberty Stadium by caretaker boss Alan Curtis.
“It was hard for Bob Bradley. He wouldn’t have had time to create his own culture and put his own ideas across, but that’s the ruthlessness of the division and the scrutiny everyone is under.”
Midfielder Marc Pugh remains sidelined for Bournemouth due to a hamstring injury sustained during the defeat to Southampton earlier this month, although Nathan Ake is available once more, having been ineligible to face parent club Chelsea.
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