Welcome to coverage of the BBC’s first live broadcast of a top-flight league game for 32 years. No Desmond Lynam, Trevor Brooking, Jimmy Hill and John Motson for us tonight but the Match of the Day A Team of Messrs Lineker, Shearer and Wright. It’s the least box office friendly of the weekend’s 10 fixtures,
Welcome to coverage of the BBC’s first live broadcast of a top-flight league game for 32 years. No Desmond Lynam, Trevor Brooking, Jimmy Hill and John Motson for us tonight but the Match of the Day A Team of Messrs Lineker, Shearer and Wright. It’s the least box office friendly of the weekend’s 10 fixtures, which is why it’s on the BBC but it isn’t without merit and definitely not without significance.
As I write West Ham are drawing with Wolves, Brighton have beaten Arsenal, Watford earned a point in their match with Leicester and Norwich were trounced last night. Bournemouth, in 18th with 27 points, need victory to move ahead of Watford, out of the relegation places and go four points in front of Aston Villa, who host Chelsea tomorrow. Back-to-back victories over Brighton and Villa in Jan and Feb were taken as evidence of a revival but neither were particularly convincing performances and subsequent defeats by Sheffield United and Burnley inspired genuine worry.
Their competitiveness reasserted itself in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, when they led for 30 minutes, and nothing can be read from their defeat by Liverpool. If they are to maintain their Premier League status for a sixth season, they need to take something from this game. It is high time that £20m Dominic Solanke broke his duck and started scoring or all that promise he showed in the Chelsea and England youth set-ups will fade to nothing.
In the past five seasons, the minimum number of points needed to guarantee safety (taking goal difference out of the reckoning for the moment) was 34 in 2017-18 but has been more commonly 35, once 36 and, most stringently, 38 in 2015-16. With the way the games have panned out so far we can write off Norwich but I think Bournemouth need to be looking at the upper end of those figures to sleep soundly. To get there they need to win today and target victories over Tottenham, Newcastle and Southampton at home.
As for Palace, in 11th and already on 39 points, there’s nothing to play for other than prize money and a highest PL finish, which was 10th in 2014-15 under Sam Allardyce. They have won the last three on the trot ans can secure the double over Bournemouth tonight.