Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to return to winning ways after a dip in form
Relegation contenders Bournemouth are still under the caretaker charge of Gary O’Neil
A low-scoring encounter is on the cards at the Vitality Stadium this weekend
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After a 2-0 defeat by Manchester United in the recent midweek round of action, Antonio Conte ruled his side out of the Premier League title race. "Every time we play a game at a high level, we struggle. We struggled against Chelsea, Chelsea dominated the game - I want to be honest,” he said.
"With Arsenal, we lost, and today against United we lost. For sure, when the level is high we are going to struggle. Sometimes I hear that we are title contenders and I think we need time.
Conte is not the first manager to play down his team’s chances of success - and he will certainly not be the last. The Italian does have a point, though. Spurs have been hugely disappointing in their meetings with fellow big-six sides, taking one point from a possible nine against those aforementioned opponents. They have flattered to deceive in other games too, losing 2-1 to Newcastle United last weekend, for example.
Yet it would be premature to rule Tottenham out of the title race. They are just five points adrift of the summit of the standings, albeit having played a game more than Arsenal and Manchester City, the two teams above them. It is true that the Spurs have not been as impressive as either of those sides, but it must be remembered that we are less than a third of the way into the season.
It would be especially foolish to make definitive statements in the 2022/23 campaign, which will feature a lengthy break in November and December for the World Cup. We might not get a true sense of the table until the turn of the year, so if Spurs can remain within touching distance of the top spot in January, nothing can be ruled out.
One thing is for sure, though: if Tottenham want to mount a sustained title tilt, they will need to improve their performance levels.
Bournemouth are four points clear of the relegation zone and just three adrift of the top eighth, but most soccer fans - and the best online sportsbooks - believe they will be involved in a basement battle rather than a European push this term.
The Cherries have arguably exceeded expectations so far. After they lost 9-0 to Liverpool in late August, many insisted they were essentially down already. Scott Parker left a few days after that defeat at Anfield, seemingly leaving Bournemouth with a mountain to climb. The board handed the reins to Gary O’Neil, who had no frontline managerial experience, on an interim basis.
O’Neil has remained at the helm for longer than anyone imagined. That is in part because Bournemouth are in the process of being bought out by American businessman Bill Foley, who will want to make his own decisions about the club’s staff. But it is also because O’Neil has overseen some good results, including a six-match defeatless streak.
However, Bournemouth have now lost back-to-back games in the Premier League, going down 1-0 to Southampton and 2-0 to West Ham United. Their squad lacks proven top-flight quality and it is not yet clear whether there will be much money to spend in the January transfer window.
The uncertainty over O’Neil’s future is another issue that needs to be addressed soon. Another loss here might prompt Bournemouth to hire an external candidate as Parker’s permanent successor, but they surely need to make a decision one way or another soon.
Spurs were utterly unable to impose themselves on their recent game against Manchester United, while they also struggled to create clear-cut chances from open play in the loss to Newcastle last weekend. A 1-1 draw with Sporting CP in the Champions League on Wednesday has not exactly restored confidence in the camp.
Tottenham are missing Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison. The absence of both players has prompted Conte to shift to a 3-5-2 formation, but his team have looked clunky and incoherent of late.
The unit is disjointed from back to front without a figure like Kulusevski to link both parts of the side. Lucas Moura started in midweek as Conte moved back to a 3-4-3, but Tottenham did not look convincing in that system either.
Spurs may therefore prioritize defensive solidity on Saturday. If they can keep a clean sheet against Bournemouth, the north Londoners will back themselves to win the game - with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min at the top of the pitch, Tottenham will surely score at the Vitality Stadium.
For that reason, we recommend putting some money on under 2.5 goals in this one. Bournemouth have not scored in either of their last two games, while Conte is likely to go back to basics after three matches without a win.
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|Teams||Bournemouth vs Tottenham Hotspur|
|Location||Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England|
|Time||Saturday, 29 October 2022, 10.00 AM EDT|
|How to watch||Peacock Premium|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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