Preview: Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Two sides who were on the wrong end of controversial VAR calls last time out do battle in Saturday’s Premier League clash, as Bournemouth tackle Tottenham Hotspur at the Vitality Stadium.

Gary O’Neil’s side were left to rue the handball rule book in a 2-0 loss to West Ham United on Monday, while Spurs dramatically drew 1-1 with Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League.

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil counted as many as 10 VAR decisions that have gone against his side since his arrival after Monday’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham, with the Cherries on the wrong end of a pair of handball calls in the English capital.

Kurt Zouma’s opening goal was allowed to stand, despite the ball clearly striking the hands of Thilo Kehrer, which were deemed to be in a natural position, and Said Benrahma completed the job from the spot after Jordan Zemura was penalized for a handball of his own.

Former West Ham player O’Neil certainly let the officials know what he made of the first decision at half time, with his Cherries side now dropping down to 14th place in the division after following up a six game unbeaten run with back-to-back defeats.

A four-point chasm separates Bournemouth from the drop zone at present, and failure to score in either of their losses to Southampton or West Ham sees the Cherries remain on just 10 goals for the season – the fewest out of any side above the relegation zone.

Only four of Bournemouth’s 10 league goals this season have come at the Vitality Stadium, where they have gone scoreless in four of their six top-flight games this term, but Tottenham did not have much in the way of attacking excellence in midweek either.

While O’Neil’s frustrations did not land him in hot water with the officiating team, Antonio Conte saw red as Tottenham were cruelly denied a late winner versus Sporting, with that 1-1 draw ruling out their chances of qualifying for the knockout rounds with a game to spare.

Marcus Edwards deservedly put Sporting ahead in the first half before Tottenham came out gung-ho in the second, as Rodrigo Bentancur’s header levelled the match before Harry Kane thought he had won it with virtually the last kick of the game.

However, a lengthy VAR review ultimately saw the strike disallowed for a tight offside call, and Conte was given his marching orders by referee Danny Makkelie for his protests before also marching out of his press conference after taking just one question from the media.

As infuriating as that decision was, Conte was in no denial about his side’s lacklustre first-half performance, as Tottenham made it three straight games without a win in all tournaments following their recent league defeats to Manchester United and Newcastle United.

The Lilywhites are clinging onto third place as things stand, but they are five points adrift of leaders Arsenal having played a game more, and both Chelsea and Man United are within touching distance of the Lilywhites with a fixture in hand.

A record of just one win from their last six away games in all tournaments will hardly increase the confidence in the away camp either, and Bournemouth have managed to avoid defeat in their last two meetings with Spurs at the Vitality Stadium, winning 1-0 in May 2019 before a goalless draw in July 2020.

Bournemouth Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:
Tottenham Hotspur form (all competitions):

We say: Bournemouth 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Even if the youthful livewire Gil does come in for his first-ever Premier League start, Tottenham’s attacking deficiencies will not be solved overnight, especially against a Bournemouth side who tend not to concede many goals at home.

Putting the ball in the back of the net at home has not been one of the Cherries’ specialities either, and Saturday’s game does not have the look of an exciting encounter, but Conte’s side can hold firm and nick the one goal they need against a Neto-less backline to return to winning ways.

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