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Bournemouth’s survival has been one of the most impressive and underrated achievements in recent football. The Cherries are in their fifth Premier League season and to have a finishing position of 12.75 with one of the smallest budgets in Premier League history is remarkable.

But this season there are signs there are problems with Eddie Howe’s admirable squad. After a solid start that saw Eddie Howe’s side rise to seventh in the table, their form nose-dived last November. The Cherries lost 10 out of 12 Premier League fixtures between November 9 and January 18, dropping into the bottom two in the process.

Successive victories over Brighton and Aston Villa briefly enabled them to climb out of the relegation zone, but a tough run of fixtures saw them take only one point from their last four. That has left them back in the bottom three, level on points with 17th-placed Watford, which has left Bournemouth fans placing a bet on the Cherries’ survival chances on mobile betting apps nervous about the prospects for the remainder of the season.

It has also put huge pressure on future fixtures. Bournemouth entertain mid-table side Crystal Palace, and Wolves, from which they won’t be expecting to get any points, the Cherries will host Newcastle, who are currently in 13th place in the table.

Palace have a 12-point cushion over Bournemouth, but Eddie Howe will be hoping that, with little to play for, the Eagles may not be at their sharpest for the game and hoping that a win over Newcastle could significantly boost their survival chances, although the Magpies, like Palace, are in decent form and will be tough to beat.

The good news for Howe, and for Bournemouth fans, is that the attack is finally healthy. There remains some slight doubt over the fitness of Joshua King, who has been troubled with a hamstring problem, but Howe has said that he is optimistic about King’s prospects of returning, and he will certainly be needed as the Cherries have a tough run of fixtures ahead.

The importance of these two games is exacerbated by the difficulty of Bournemouth’s run in. In their last six games, the Cherries will take on Leicester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and Manchester City; all teams with plenty to play for, as well as local rivals Southampton for what is bound to be a typically fraught and tense south coast derby.

But there are some reasons to be optimistic about their prospects over the next few weeks. If the weather improves, that will help their style of play, which is all about keeping the ball on the ground, and can be tough to sustain in rough weather against teams that are more physical, as demonstrated  by their 3-0 defeat in a typically tough encounter against Burnley at Turf Moor.

Howe’s team are also showing signs of improvement. Their battling 2-2 draw against Chelsea at the end of last month was followed by a spirited performance at Anfield, in which they took the lead against the Premier League champions-elect. And with those two crucial games taking place at the Vitality Stadium, the Cherries home form is improving at the right time, as they’ve taken seven points out of a possible nine on their home patch. Don’t write off Bournemouth just yet!

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