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Watford v AFC Bournemouth: Flores eyes vital victory in 100th league encounter

Quique Sanchez Flores is desperate for three points against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday to boost Watford’s unlikely push for Europe.

Watford have lost five of their last nine Premier League matches but remain just five points behind fifth-placed Manchester United with 12 games to play.

The reverse fixture in October at the Vitality Stadium finished 1-1, meaning the teams head into their 100th meeting in league competition tied on 35 victories apiece.

With Bournemouth having lost just one of their last seven away games in the top flight, Flores expects a difficult battle with Eddie Howe’s side as he looks to guide Watford further up the table.

“We try to carry on with the same dynamic we have had since the beginning of the season,” the Watford coach said on Thursday. “Bournemouth are a very good team but the idea is to be competitive and play well.

“We are close to our objective so we want points. We play with our fans, in our own stadium, so it’s a very important match.”

Watford reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Leeds United last weekend, but Bournemouth suffered a disappointing exit at home at the hands of Everton.

That defeat was the club’s third in a row at home in all competitions and, with just four points separating them from Newcastle United in 18th, concerns are growing that they could yet be hauled back into a relegation scrap.

But defender Simon Francis believes their experience in fighting for promotion back in the Football League, and their display at times against Roberto Martinez’s side, will give them confidence of a timely result at Watford.

“We have been in these situations before when we have had to fight for promotion. I think that’s as much of a pressure situation as this is,” he told the Bournemouth Echo.

“It is even tougher now we are in the Premier League but I felt we showed a lot of quality and confidence against Everton, especially the lads who have not been in the team.

“That is a good sign for the coming weeks and it is a huge game against Watford. Our focus is on the Premier League now and we have to bounce back.”

Watford are unlikely to have Juan Manuel Jurado – who has missed the last two games with a calf problem – fully fit, but Flores boasts a scarcity of major injury concerns as they head into a pivotal stage of the season.

Bournemouth attacking duo Max Gradel and Callum Wilson have resumed training exercises following serious knee injuries but are not expected to return until the end of next month.

Watford will hope captain
Troy Deeney takes inspiration from the last time Bournemouth visited Vicarage Road in a league match. That Championship encounter in August 2013 saw Deeney net a hat-trick in a 6-1 thrashing.

Key Opta Stats:
– Watford have recovered just two points from losing positions this season, the fewest in the top flight.
– AFC Bournemouth have dropped 14 points from winning positions this season, more than any other team in the Barclays Premier League.
– The Hornets have failed to score in four of their last six Premier League matches.
– Bournemouth have lost four of their last nine Premier League games (W2 D3 L4).

Thu 25 Feb, 2016
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