Fresh from progressing into another European semi-final, West Ham United resume their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League when they face an in-form Bournemouth outfit at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday.
While the Cherries have accumulated nine points from their last 12 available, the Hammers have only lost one of their last nine games across all competitions.
Aside from a 2-0 home loss to Brighton & Hove Albion, Bournemouth have had plenty of success in the month of April to date, claiming maximum points against Fulham, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
A narrow 1-0 win away at Leicester was followed by a dramatic 3-2 triumph at Spurs last weekend, with former Cherries forward Arnaut Danjuma equalising for the hosts in the 88th minute before Dango Ouattara netted Bournemouth’s latest winning goal in the Premier League (94:11) to snatch all three points at the death.
Gary O’Neil’s side have picked up as many victories in April (three) as they managed in November, December, January, February and March combined, and the Cherries have put themselves in a much stronger position to avoid an immediate drop to the Championship as they now six 14th in the table and six points clear of the relegation zone.
A favourable-looking run of fixtures is up next for Bournemouth, with Sunday’s clash against West Ham followed by encounters with Southampton and Leeds United – a home match with an out-of-sorts Chelsea side could also be thrown into the mix.
O’Neil will be keen for his team to take advantage of this promising run of fixtures and maintain their winning momentum to all but secure their survival in the top-flight, although beating the Hammers is not a given having lost their last two meetings against them by an aggregate score of 6-0.
After rescuing a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Premier League leaders Arsenal last weekend, West Ham advanced into the Europa Conference League semi-finals courtesy of a 5-2 aggregate win over Gent, beating the Belgian side 4-1 in the second leg on Thursday.
With the tie level both on the night and on aggregate at half time, a stunning second-half blitz from the Hammers put David Moyes’s men in control of proceedings at the London Stadium, with Lucas Paqueta, Declan Rice and Michail Antonio all scoring within just under eight minutes of each other to seal the victory and set up a semi-final clash with AZ Alkmaar next month.
West Ham now have five Premier League fixtures to prepare for before shifting their focus back to European duties, with the Hammers still embroiled in the relegation dogfight despite picking up eight points from their last five top-flight games. Moyes and co sit 15th in the table and just four points above the drop zone, although they do have a game in hand on every other team in the bottom half.
A narrow 1-0 win at Fulham earlier this month ended an 11-game winless run away from home for the Hammers, but they travel to Bournemouth on Sunday having failed to win each of their last four visits to the Vitality Stadium, conceding 10 goals in the process.
West Ham United have won each of their last four Premier League matches against newly-promoted teams, though, including a 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth in October, and they will look to complete their first-ever league double over the Cherries on Sunday.
Bournemouth will be without attacking midfielder Hamed Traore as he continues to recover from a foot injury, joining Ryan Fredericks (calf) and Junior Stanislas (unspecified) in the treatment room.
Matias Vina, who scored his first goal for the Cherries against Spurs, is a minor doubt with a lower back problem, but the left-back has taken part in light training and O’Neil is hopeful that he will be involved in the matchday squad.
O’Neil will likely revert to a four-man defence, with Adam Smith set to be recalled at right-back, while Marcos Senesi could replace Chris Mepham at centre-back after recovering from a hamstring issue to feature as a substitute last time out.
Ouattara will also be looking to force his way back into the first XI and could replace Ryan Christie, while Philip Billing is set to continue in behind central striker Dominic Solanke.
As for West Ham, Gianluca Scamacca remains sidelined after undergoing knee surgery earlier this month, while Angelo Ogbonna missed the midweek win over Gent with a lower back problem and is a doubt for Sunday’s contest.
Lukasz Fabianski is set to be recalled between the sticks at the expense of cup goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, while Moyes will also ponder outfield changes to freshen up his side following Thursday’s victory.
Danny Ings will push Antonio, who has scored four goals in his last two starts for Hammers, for a place up front, while Kurt Zouma and Said Benrahma, who both scored in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth in October, could continue at centre-back and on the left-flank respectively.
Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Neto; Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Kelly; Tavernier, Lerma, Rothwell, Ouattara; Billing; Solanke
West Ham United possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Paqueta, Benrahma; Ings