Sunderland v Bournemouth: Cherries boss wary of Sam Allardyce’s ‘more focused’ Black Cats

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe

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Manager Eddie Howe hopes to complete a first ever Premier League double for Bournemouth in today’s visit to the Stadium of Light.

But the Vitality Stadium boss admits that Sunderland are a “more focused side” and a “different proposition” compared to the side the Cherries outgunned 2-0 back in September.

Sunderland were blown away by two goals in the first nine minutes in the clubs’ first top-flight meeting, with Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie earning Bournemouth their much-needed first Premier League victory.

Dick Advocaat was in charge of the Wearsiders that day, but Sunderland, despite their second-bottom standing in the league table, have more about them under Sam Allardyce, believes Howe.

Jermain Defoe’s run of five goals in two vital wins against relegation rivals Aston Villa and Swansea this month has given Sunderland real optimism for the survival scrap, which continues with another crucial six-pointer at the Stadium of Light today.

“That first home win back in September against Sunderland was a big win for us,” the Bournemouth boss told afcb.co.uk

“At the time, we needed to win at home, but they are a different proposition from that game, they’ve changed their manager and are a more focused side. The key games when they’ve looked in trouble they have found a way to win.

“Sam Allardyce has brought organisation and huge experience. He’s been in this position many times and usually succeeded, so I’m full of admiration for him.

“When you have the ability to score goals in tight games that’s dangerous and that’s what Jermain Defoe brings.

“Our key aim is to try and nullify him and of course the very good players around him.

“But we’re going to go into the game with a similar attacking mind-set to last week against Norwich City and will be aggressive in our play.

“From our perspective, we go in to win every game and the fact it’s an important game facing a team around us makes no difference to our approach, we’re confident.”

Striker Benik Afobe is expected to be fit for Bournemouth, but doubts surround Matt Ritchie (hip) and Josh King (hamstring). Howe said: “We’ll make a late decision on the pair. Benik has a knock, but I think he’ll be fine.”

Follow today’s action from thre Stadium of Light with our matchday blog. The build-up begins at noon and we’ll be running through to 6pm for all the action and reaction