AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes a “confidence boost” stemming from his players’ recent successful international outings will spur them on in Sunday’s clash with Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium.
Cherries striker Callum Wilson scored on his England debut last Friday in a 3-0 win over the USA, whilst Scottish midfielder Ryan Fraser also netted for his country for the first time.
Howe praised both men at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, calling Wilson’s strike “a brilliant moment” and Fraser’s goal “very special”.
The Bournemouth boss also hailed Cherries centre-back Jack Simpson, who won his first cap for England Under-21s this week.
Howe said: “[the last two weeks] have been really good for all our international players. It boosts confidence”.
But whilst his players have been starring for their countries over the past fortnight, Howe has had plenty of time back at home to ruminate on his side’s recent back-to-back defeats in the Premier League.
The manager conceded that in the 2-1 loss to Manchester United on 3rd November, his side had simply been outdone on the day, despite putting in “a really good performance”.
However, the subsequent defeat to Newcastle by the same scoreline a week later was “hugely frustrating” according to Howe, who revealed he had spent “a long time reflecting” on the Cherries’ performance at St James’ Park.
And the Bournemouth manager made clear exactly what he now expects from his charges in their upcoming contest with Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium.
“If one to eleven we are very good then we have a chance”, Howe said. “If we have two or three off the pace, then these games are very difficult to get anything out of.
“I think it will be a very good game, fifth versus sixth.
“Arsenal are on this very good unbeaten run, they’ve adapted very well to the new manager and played well.
“They have outstanding attacking players and a real good look about their team at the moment- we know it’s going to be tough.”
Howe confirmed that striker Josh King has returned to training after suffering an ankle injury on international duty with Norway. Meanwhile, right-back Adam Smith will be sidelined for three months with damaged knee cartilage.
Arsenal have a much-depleted squad with Danny Welbeck (ankle), Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner (both hamstring), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin) and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) all out.
Strikers Alexandre Lacazette (groin) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (back) are also doubtful for the match.
AFC Bournemouth take on Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday 25th November at 1.30pm.