Bournemouth kick off 2019 with the visit of Watford, as two of the Premier League's safely mid-table sides look to gain an advantage over one another in the pursuit of European football next season.
Both sides started the season so impressively, but form has levelled off a touch since, and they now sit in 12th and ninth respectively, with just two points separating them.
Something's got to give at the Vitality Stadium, so take a look at 90min's preview of Bournemouth vs Watford below.
How to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 2 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Vitality Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Sky Sports News / BT Sport Score|
He could join Simon Francis, Lewis Cook, Adam Smith and Dan Gosling on the sidelines, as all four remain out through injury.
Watford, meanwhile, have some issues of their own to contend with, as the trio of Andre Gray, Sebastian Prodl and Adalberto Penaranda are likely to remain out, while the jury is out on Christian Kabasele after the injury picked up against Chelsea kept him out at the weekend.
The good news from a Hornets perspective is Abdoulaye Doucoure and Troy Deeney could return to the side after being rested for the draw with Newcastle.
|Bournemouth||Begovic; Mings, Cook, Daniels; Ibe, Stanislas, Surman, Brooks, Fraser; Wilson, King|
|Watford||Gomes; Janmaat, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Capoue, Pereira; Delofeu, Deeney|
Head to Head Record
Bournemouth ran out emphatic 4-0 winners the last time the two sides met at Vicarage Road in October, but in truth it was a statistical outlier in the long, even, competitive history between the two sides.
The last seven meetings prior to that one saw five draws and one win apiece, and over the remarkable 114 competitive fixtures between the two sides over the years, spanning across four divisions, the Hornets have just edged it, with 40 wins to Bournemouth's 38.
Bournemouth have suffered a serious dent to their confidence in recent heavy defeats away to Tottenham and Manchester United, losing 5-0 and 4-1 respectively, and they will be hoping that picking on someone their own size, in the Hornets, can yield a return to form.
Watford, meanwhile, will come out of Saturday's draw with Newcastle feeling as if they could have won the game, but won't be too concerned given their decent run of form going into it.
Two wins and two draws from their last five is a respectable return, given they faced Chelsea, Everton and West Ham in that time.
Here's how each side have fared in their last five fixtures.
|Manchester United 4-1 Bournemouth (30/12)||Watford 1-1 Newcastle (29/12)|
|Tottenham 5-0 Bournemouth (26/12)||Watford 1-2 Chelsea (26/12)|
|Bournemouth 2-0 Brighton (22/12)||West Ham 0-2 Watford (22/12)|
|Chelsea 1-0 Bournemouth (19/12)||Watford 3-2 Cardiff (15/12)|
|Wolves 2-0 Bournemouth (15/12)||Everton 2-2 Watford (10/12)|
The term 'too close to call' is eye-rollingly over-used in football, but it does this one perfect justice. Their styles of play are similar - organised out of possession, but with tendencies to turn on the flair in the final third - and we could see a proverbial chess match with two of the Premier League's better sides cancelling each other out.
However, you get the feeling Bournemouth need this one more, and with their home advantage, they might just edge a very tight game.
Prediction: Bournemouth 3-2 Watford
Source : 90min