Eric Dier is full of praise for the way AFC Bournemouth have adapted to life in the Premier League – and expects Eddie Howe’s men to give Tottenham a “very tough test” at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Spurs have to quickly recover from the disappointment of their Europa League exit at the hands of Borussia Dortmund on Thursday, although the 5-1 aggregate defeat against the Bundesliga club could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Mauricio Pochettino’s squad can now focus on domestic matters as they look to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 55 years and win a maiden Premier League title. The London club sit five points behind leaders Leicester City with eight games remaining.
“Credit to them [Bournemouth], they play a really nice brand of football,” Dier, who sustained a knock against Dortmund, told Tottenham’s official website.
“I think their manager and the club have carried themselves very well in their first season in the Premier League.
“We know it’s going to be a very tough test. They play good football and are on a great run. They’re pretty much safe, so they are going to be playing with a lot more freedom.”
Tottenham won 5-1 at the Vitality Stadium back in October at a time when Bournemouth were still coming to terms with life in the top flight.
Matt Ritchie was impressed by Pochettino’s side on that occasion, but the winger insists the away side travel to the capital for the rematch full of confidence after a run of three straight league wins.
“I don’t think there’s a point to prove,” he told the club’s official website.
“I think they are the best team we’ve played probably, so we know we’re going to be in for a game there.
“The quality they had and the way they were off the ball was impressive, I think they are very aggressive and obviously they’ve got top, top players that we need to strive to be as good as.
“They’re having a fantastic season and they’re a team that we can emulate in ways, but we will go there with a lot of confidence from our three wins on the bounce. Hopefully we can get three points.”
Harry Kane, who scored a hat-trick in the first game against Bournemouth, netted both Tottenham’s goals in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa last time out in the league.
The England international was an unused substitute in the 2-1 second-leg defeat against Dortmund on Thursday, while midfielders Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen were not even named in the squad.
Ben Davies is a doubt for the hosts after the left-back came off early in the first half against the Bundesliga club due to a head injury suffered in a collision with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Bournemouth will still be without Junior Stanislas due to a hamstring problem, but could have Harry Arter back – he will undergo a late fitness test on an Achilles injury.
Key Opta stats:
– Kane has scored eight goals in his last nine Premier League games and now has 19 in the competition this season.
– Despite 13 different players scoring a Premier League goal for Bournemouth this season, Callum Wilson – who has been injured since September – is still their top goalscorer in the competition (five goals).
– Tottenham have lost only two of their last 16 Premier League games at White Hart Lane (W9 D5 L2).
– Bournemouth have lost just one of their last nine Premier League away matches (W4 D4 L1). That defeat came in north London though at the hands of Spurs’ neighbours Arsenal.
– Dele Alli has provided more assists in the Premier League in 2016 than any other player (5).