Feb 13, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Dean Court
Attendance: 10,863
StokeStoke City
Ritchie (57')
Pugh (36'), Surman (74'), Francis (85'), Arter (92')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Imbula (9'), Afellay (52'), Joselu (55')
Diouf (21'), Imbula (94')

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Stoke City

Sports Mole peers ahead to Saturday afternoon's match between Bournemouth and Stoke City at the Vitality Stadium.

Stoke City will be aiming to end their poor run of form when they travel to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.

Mark Hughes's side are struggling badly for not only wins, but goals as well of late and they face a Bournemouth side looking to pull further clear of the bottom three.


Dan Gosling of Bournemouth celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Britannia Stadium on September 26, 2015© Getty Images

The Cherries' second-longest unbeaten run of the season came to an end last Sunday when Arsenal travelled south and left with the points thanks to a pair of goals within 90 seconds of each other in the first half.

Eddie Howe's side had collected seven points from a possible nine in their previous three games to edge away from the bottom three and they still have a five-point cushion to the drop zone with 13 games of their maiden top-flight season to go.

If they are to stay up, Howe will want to improve their record at the Vitality Stadium. Defeat to Arsenal means that Bournemouth have won just three of their 12 Premier League games at home this season.

They have the third-worst home record - only bottom two sides Sunderland and Aston Villa have worse - and they have won more points on their travels this term.

Four of their next five league games are against fellow bottom-half sides and points will be needed, especially looking at the Cherries' run-in when they face five of the top nine and defending champions Chelsea in their final eight matches.

It was a big game for ex-Gunner Benik Afobe last Sunday and although he will have been disappointed not to have not scored against his former employers, he must still be pleased with his impact since his arrival last month on the south coast having scored three times already.

However, the striker appears to have left Wolverhampton Wanderers on bad terms and said that he was 'shocked and hurt' by allegations from Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey that claimed Afobe had engineered a move away by not giving his all in the Championship - something the 22-year-old firmly denies.

Recent Premier League form: DLWDWL
Recent form (all competitions): LWDWWL


Bojan Krkic celebrates scoring Stoke's first against Manchester United on December 26, 2015© Getty Images

Another transfer record broken in January and Carlos Puyol pictured at Bojan Krkic's contract signing today, but on the pitch things have not been going Stoke's way.

In all competitions they have not scored for six games, losing the last five in a row, and two of those defeats saw the Potters exit both the League Cup and FA Cup, while last weekend they conceded three in the first half against Everton.

Should they lose this weekend at the Vitality Stadium it would be the first time since February 2012 that they have lost four straight in the Premier League and failure to score would make it over seven hours without a league goal.

The last time that Stoke failed to score in five successive top-flight league matches was March 1985, when they went on an eight-game scoreless span.

Still, it is a blip in what many consider another excellent season under Mark Hughes, with Stoke just two points behind Merseyside duo Everton and Liverpool.

Bojan has signed up for the next four-and-a-half years and the club are hopeful that Marko Arnautovic will follow, although negotiations over the Austrian's extension have dragged on as the winger reportedly pushes to become the club's highest-paid player.

Recent Premier League form: LWDLLL
Recent form (all competitions): DLLLLL

Team News

Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Stoke City at St James' Park on October 31, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. © Getty Images

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stoke's dip in form has directly coincided with Ryan Shawcross's absence. The Potters' captain left with the game goalless against Leicester City last month and since then Hughes's side have conceded nine goals in two-and-a-half games.

Shawcross is close to a return, but he will not be back this weekend and fellow defenders Geoff Cameron and Marc Wilson will also miss out.

Bojan did not feature in the defeat to Everton, but he could be back in attack in place of Mame Biram Diouf after signing a new deal, although Jonathan Walters is also fit again having recovered from illness.

As for Bournemouth, the Cherries have a clean bill of health apart from the three players - Callum Wilson, Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings - sidelined with serious knee ligament problems.

Mings will not be back this season due to a combined ACL and MCL fracture, but forwards Wilson and Gradel may return at some point in the final months of the campaign.

Cherries captain Tommy Elphick made his first appearance since September in last month's FA Cup fourth-round win over Portsmouth, although he has not been included in either Premier League squad since then and may return to the fold this weekend.

If Howe wants to take the game to the out-of-form Potters then a strike duo of Joshua King and Afobe could be a possibility.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Gosling, Arter, Pugh; King, Afobe

Stoke possible starting lineup:
Butland; Johnson, Muniesa, Wollscheid, Pieters; Imbula, Whelan; Shaqiri, Afellay, Arnautovic; Bojan

Head To Head

After starting so well in his debut Premier League season, Wilson, who is still the Cherries' top league scorer this season, had his campaign rocked in the reverse at the Britannia when he ruptured his ACL after just 15 minutes before Stoke went on to win 2-1 for their first league win of the season.

In fact, none of the last 12 meetings between Stoke and Bournemouth in all competitions has ended as an away win (10 home wins, two draws).

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We say: Bournemouth 2-2 Stoke

Goals should be on the cards with Stoke's defence seemingly at sixes and sevens and Bournemouth might just start as favourites, but their home record suggests that a win could be a step too far.

Who will claim victory on Saturday, Bournemouth or Stoke?

Mark 'Bah Humbug' Hughes watches on during the game between Manchester United and Stoke City on December 26, 2015
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