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Bournemouth and Palace may share spoils again

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Four of the six Premier League fixtures between Bournemouth and Crystal Palace have finished in draws and the sides could once again share the spoils at Dean Court.

There was little between the teams last season with both clubs ending on 44 points, Palace one place higher in the table in 11th due to a superior goal difference, while their meetings produced a pair of entertaining 2-2 draws.

They also scored the same amount of goals over the course of 38 league games, notching 45 each, with the only separating factor being Palace's better defensive capabilities.

It could be a similar story this season.

Bournemouth have three more points and yet they have conceded 11 goals compared to Palace's six. The Cherries are far more prolific in the final third with ten goals to the visitors' four.

The key to this game will be whether Bournemouth's attacking prowess can overcome Palace's defensive qualities and the smart money could be on a stalemate.

Bournemouth need to bounce back from a shock 4-0 loss at Burnley in their last Premier League contest when the score did not do justice to the balance of play, yet conceding four must be a worry for Eddie Howe.

It was the fourth top-flight game in succession that Bournemouth shipped at least two goals, however, they are strong at home with wins over Cardiff and Leicester and a 2-2 draw with Everton.

Winger Ryan Fraser has been the catalyst with four goals and two assists, while centre-forwards Callum Wilson and Josh King are a twin threat .

Wilson came off the bench to secure Bournemouth a 3-2 EFL Cup win over Blackburn on Tuesday and Palace will have to defend well to nullify Howe's attacking weapons.

Palace, as is customary under Roy Hodgson, are a well-organised unit with five clean sheets in eight matches in all competitions this season.

Four of those shutouts have come in the last five fixtures and the exception, a poor 2-0 loss to Southampton, came when the Eagles were without influential centre-back James Tomkins.

With Tomkins partnering Mamadou Sakho there is a solid base from which to build, although Hodgson could do with further firepower to boost the squad with Christian Benteke injured and Alexander Sorloth seen by most supporters as being below the level required.

Meanwhile, Jordan Ayew does not offer the focal point needed to bring the best out of Wilfried Zaha, who is often carrying the attack on his own.

Zaha has scored three of Palace's four league goals this season and will once again be seen as their main hope of securing victory.

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Match in Focus

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Newport Co v Tranmere

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Newport are unbeaten in 12 matches.
Expert verdict
Michael Flynn’s Newport headed into the playoffs as the fourth tier’s form side, securing seventh spot by finishing the season ten games unbeaten. Tranmere will know all too well about County’s disciplined defensive, having failed to score in both league meetings with them and, even with James Norwood leading the line, they look vulnerable.