“We’re effectively playing catch-up now,” says Pearson, which makes me think: has any gameshow achieved such lasting verncularial impact as Going for Gold?
Foster goes on to say that Pearson has got his side mentally prepared. When he came in, he was very quick “in and out”, telling players what he expected of them, and is a manger whereas previously Watford had had coaches.
Ben Foster tells Sky that Watford needed a rocket, and Pearson was that man. That man himself says he wanted the players to enjoy themselves and not worry about things going wrong.
Breaking: Andy Hinchcliffe reckons Ake being back is important for Bournemouth. More news as i get it.
On which point, Bournemouth’s two strikers have a big role to play today (and in other revelatory news, I think the first goal will be important). But it’s rare for centre-backs to have a man each to mark, and if Lerma or Gosling can make third-man runs, Watford will have a problem.
Looking more closely at that Watford team, it looks very physically imposing, but with no small amount of wit and imagination. I strongly fancy them today, though Bournemouth pose a threat if they can get the ball wide early.
Choking up here!
Eddie Howe tells Sky that his club’s circumstance represents his biggest challenge in the Premier League, but also notes that it’s more or less like this every season, with his team forced to fight to stay up. He is clear that his team will seek to attack and get the crowd going, which reminds me that today’s match is the least-fearsome crowds derby.
As for Watford, they make two changes: Kabasele is suspended and Femenia is injured, so Mariappa and Mesina get a go.
So what does it all mean? Well, huge news four Bournemouth comes with the return of Nathan Ake, who replaces Chris Mepham; at left-back, Adam Smith returns from an injury to his moral sentiments, Diego Rico dropping out; and in goal, Mark Travers replaces the minorly hamstrung Aaron Ramsdale.
AFC Bournemouth (a genteel 4-4-flipping-2): Travers; Francis, Cook S, Ake, Smith; Wilson H, Lerma, Gosling, Fraser; Wilson C, Solanke. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Cook L, Rico, Simpson, Billing, Surridge.
Watford (an ungenteel 4-2-3-1): Foster; Mariappa, Dawson, Cathcart, Masina; Chalobah, Capoue; Sarr, Doucoure, Deulofeu; Deeney. Subs: Gomes, Gray, Quina, Success, Dele-Bashiru, Holebas, Pereyra.
Star of the show: Lil Mikey Dean (Wirral)
He may call his dad “Son”; his real name may be “Nigel Pear”; but you’d have to be an absolute ostrich not to grasp that “Nigel Pearson” knows something. Claudio Ranieri may have bought pizza and such, but it was not him who built Leicester’s ludicrous league winners.
As such, Watford’s recent improvement is no remote surprise. They have enough good players to stay up, and now they have a manager able to identify and arrange them in mutually advantageous manner. It would be a surprise were they to go down.
It would also be a surprise were Bournemouth to go down, as they too have some decent players and a manager with a track record of competence. But they’ve lost three of their last four games and sit 18th in the table, just a point above their visitors today; if they lose, they are in trouble.
All of which is to say that this game is absolutely monstrous, and both sides can be relied upon to attack it as such. Bournemouth will stay true to the attractive, enterprising football that has left them at this point, and Watford will continue with the aggressive, direct football that has rescued them from that point. Settle in.
Kick-off: 2pm GMT