- Under 2.5 goals were scored in 13 of Crystal Palace’s last 16 Premier League matches
- Only Sheffield United have seen fewer goals in their league games than Palace this season.
- Bournemouth are averaging just 1.2 goals per 90 minutes at home this term.
- Palace drew 50% of their last 10 away fixtures.
Cherries embroiled in relegation battle
Bournemouth, third from bottom, re-start their 2019/20 campaign deep in the relegation mire, however with the lower end of the Premier League table incredibly congested, a win in their first game back against Crystal Palace could launch them to as high as 15th spot.
The Cherries, who have had terrible luck with injuries since August, actually started the 2019/20 in relatively positive fashion, but with a lengthening list of absentees impacting performances, Bournemouth lost 13 out of 18 Premier League fixtures in the lead up to the enforced postponement in March.
The good news for Eddie Howe however, is that the three-month break allowed Bournemouth to leave behind a run of three defeats in four, while simultaneously allowing several key first team players to return to fitness.
Palace’s momentum halted
In contrast, the break could hardly have come at a worse time for Crystal Palace, who had strung three Premier League victories in a row together for the first time this season at Newcastle, Brighton and Watford’s expense respectively just before play was halted.
That trio of successive 1-0 wins allowed the Eagles to climb to 11th place, with the narrow triumphs fully in keeping with the notable pattern of low scoring Palace contests this season.
Remarkably, only Sheffield United’s Premier League fixtures (55) have seen fewer goals than Palace’s (58) games this season, with under 2.5 goals registered in 21 of their 29 matches overall since the campaign kick-off 10 months ago.
Low scoring encounter anticipated again
Indeed, Bournemouth and Palace mustered just a single goal between them when they last faced off in the Eagles’ 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on December 3 last year – and everything points towards their rematch being similarly low on penalty area drama.
As we touched on above, under 2.5 goals were scored in a full 72% of Crystal Palace’s Premier League matches this season, with an incredible 13 of their most recent 16 top-flight games (81.2%) seeing under three goals scored or less since late November.
With Bournemouth averaging just 1.2 goals per game at home in 2019/20 and Palace hitting the net just 1.0 times on average per away assignment, little in the way of final third penetration is expected when the teams meet on Saturday – and that in turn makes the under 2.5 goals market worth exploring.
Turning to our correct score prediction for this weekend’s tussle on the south coast, we’re forecasting a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
With just two defeats in eight on the road before March’s postponement and five losses in 14 away tests overall this season, Roy Hodgson’s robust Crystal Palace remain one of the division’s toughest visiting teams to topple.
However, their return of five draws from their last 10 on their travels hints that they carry the mindset of a team happy to settle for a point when playing away from Selhurst Park, and with Bournemouth unbeaten in four of their last five at home, and bolstered by returning personnel, the Cherries should be able to avoid defeat.
Key Battle – Nathan Ake vs Jordan Ayew
While Wilfried Zaha tends to hog the spotlight at Palace, Ghanaian striker Jordan Ayew has arguably been a more prolific, match-changing player for the Eagles this season.
The 28-year-old, who is Palace’s leading scorer with eight goals in 2019/20, has secured points for his team with numerous winning and equalizing strikes this season, and Ayew hit both of his team’s crucial goals in their last two wins over Brighton and Watford.
Bournemouth centre-half Nathan Ake will be fully aware of the threat Ayew possesses, and the Dutch defender remains one of the Cherries’ most important players.
The 25-year-old, who has appeared 23 times in the Premier League since August, had a poor game by his standards when Bournemouth lost at Palace last year, and the ex-Chelsea starlet will be keen to make amends.
Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace team news
Eddie Howe welcomes back a whole host of first teamers for the Cherries first game after the re-start against Crystal Palace.
Lewis Cook, Simon Francis, Adam Smith, Harry Wilson, Josh King, Dan Gosling. David Brooks and Philip Billing should all be available to play, though Charlie Daniels remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Keeper Aaron Ramsdale should also be ready following his recovery from COVID-19.
Bournemouth predicted line-up: Ramsdale, Smith, Cook, Ake, Rico, Lerma, Billing, Fraser, H. Wilson, King, C. Wilson
Roy Hodgson has a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s game, with no major injury concerns for the Eagles to contend.
Christian Benteke, James McCarthy, Max Meyer and Mamadou Sakho will all be keen to feature, though they might well start from the bench alongside Cenk Tosun, Scott Dann and Jeffrey Schlupp.
Crystal Palace predicted line-up: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, van Aanholt, Koyate, Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend, Zaha, Ayew