Preview: Bournemouth v Swans
Swansea City go in search of a first win in two months when they face Bournemouth this afternoon (3pm) as the race for Premier League survival heads into the home straight.
The Swans have not tasted victory in the Premier League since thrashing West Ham at the Liberty in early March.
Since then there have been three defeats – to Chelsea and both Manchester clubs – and draws against Huddersfield, West Brom and Everton.
But boss Carlos Carvalhal feels his team still have momentum having produced a number of positive performances during the winless run.
The Swans were unlucky to lose against Chelsea last time out, while they did everything but beat Everton in their previous home game.
At Huddersfield, meantime, they showed a commendable blend of resilience and desire to claim a point despite losing Jordan Ayew to an early red card.
Even so, the Swans’ failure to register a maximum since West Ham means there is now just one point between them and the bottom three.
That gap could be wiped out come kick-off time today, for 19th-placed Stoke, who are three points worse off, host Crystal Palace in the lunchtime game.
Southampton, who are 18th, go to Everton for the day’s evening fixture.
The Swans will hope to have moved four points clear of the Saints by that stage, although they will have to dig out a big performance to overcome Bournemouth.
After all, the Swans have never beaten the Cherries in five previous Premier League meetings.
And there have been just two victories on the road in the top flight this season, with the last coming thanks to that last-gasp Luciano Narsingh goal at Watford back in December.
What Carvalhal and his players would give for a third travelling triumph on their final away day of the campaign.
The good news, perhaps, is that Bournemouth are not in great form, having failed to win in five matches.
But the Swans must focus on themselves, and on producing a display full of resilience off the ball and quality on it, if they are to land a big result.
Winger Junior Stanislas definitely misses out for Bournemouth, while there are doubts over full-back Adam Smith and midfielder Harry Arter.
Defender Tyrone Mings is close to a return after a long-term lay-off.
The Swans are boosted by the return of Federico Fernandez after the central defender missed the Chelsea game with a knee problem.
Narsingh (ankle) is also set to be fit, while Renato Sanches has another week of training under his belt having made the bench last time out.
Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony remain on the sidelines, while Kyle Bartley (knee) is missing. But Tammy Abraham is back in contention having been ineligible for the Chelsea game.
WHAT THEY SAID
Lukasz Fabianski: “The manager has told us to stay calm, believe in our ability and focus on our training. He wants us to do all the things right on and off the pitch and as players we have bought into that.”
Jordan Ayew: “We have three big games to go and we have to make sure we get the points we need to achieve what we want. That starts at Bournemouth.”
Bournemouth defender Simon Francis: “If we could beat Swansea, it would guarantee our Premier League safety – it is as simple as that. We have to think of ourselves, not the teams around us, and it is about what we can do.”
LAST SIX MEETINGS
25.11.17 Swans 0 Bournemouth 0
18.3.17 Bournemouth 2 Swans 0
31.12.16 Swans 0 Bournemouth 3
12.3.16 Bournemouth 3 Swans 2
21.11.15 Swans 2 Bournemouth 2
5.4.08 Swans 1 Bournemouth 2
37 – In the 22 seasons in which the Premier League has been a 20-team competition, the average number of points needed to finish in 17th place, one above the drop zone, is 37. The Swans currently have 33.
5 – Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have not won in five matches, and have managed just one success – at home to West Brom – in their last 10.