Eddie Howe says although he is aware of the threat posed by Saturday’s opponents Aston Villa, his focus is on ensuring Bournemouth play to their potential. The Cherries kicked off their new season with a sluggish 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United, taking the lead after 62 minutes through Chris Mepham, only for Billy Sharp to equalise late on.
Howe takes his team to another of the newly-promoted clubs on Saturday, as they head north to Villa Park.
Dean Smith’s side gave a good account of themselves as they went down 3-1 at Tottenham on the opening weekend. The Villans lead at the breakthrough John McGinn’s early strike, only for Tanguy Ndombele to equalise and Harry Kane to grab a late brace.
After earning promotion through the Premier League after three seasons in the Championship, Villa spent big, with 12 players signing on the dotted line for over £100million. Smith looks to have done a decent job of moulding his embryonic squad and the boyhood Villa fan will be priming his players to come good for their first home game back in the big time.
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Amongst that dozen new arrivals is Tyrone Mings, signed from Bournemouth after a successful loan, having seen his time with the Cherries disrupted by injury. Howe says he is looking forward to his reunion with Mings, a player he describes as “good on the ball, athletic and strong in the air”.
The boss though has his own newbies to work with and Philip Billing is again expected to start in midfield, while academy product Aaron Ramsdale is tipped to continue in goal. Crucially, he also kept hold of the likes of Callum Wilson and Nathan Ake this summer.
Both managers will see this as an opportunity to get their first win of the season and three points on Saturday could set the tone for the remainder of the campaign.
Bournemouth are also set to host Manchester City and travel to Leicester before the international break and considering the difficulty of that run, losing at Villa Park could contribute with them approaching the hiatus without a victory.
The boss says he has plenty of admiration for Saturday’s opponents but is adamant that his focus in the build-up is ensuring his own side play to their potential.
He told reporters: “They have done very well to get here and they should be proud of their achievement. “My priority is to focus on ourselves and making sure we get as much out of our team as is possible.”