Following last season’s 15th-place finish, the Cherries found an awkward way to show manager Gary O’Neil their gratitude, dismissing him soon after helping them stay afloat.
Ex-Rayo Vallecano tactician Andoni Iraola has picked up the reigns this summer, keen to prove his managerial credentials in the world’s most challenging league.
Bournemouth have backed their new manager with five new signings in the form of Justin Kluivert, Hamed Traore, Romain Favre, Milos Kerkez, and goalkeeper Andrei Radu.
However, the club’s goal for the 2023/24 season remains the same – securing top-flight survival.
Despite boasting a far more competitive squad, visiting West Ham know in-depth about surviving scary Premier League moments, having spent the entirety of last season in the lower reaches.
The Hammers finished only one place above Bournemouth in 2022/23 but made amends for a disastrous domestic campaign by hoisting the Europa Conference League trophy.
Unfortunately for David Moyes, halting a long-term wait for a piece of continental silverware wasn’t enough to convince Declan Rice to stay at the London Stadium.
Rice has joined Arsenal in a blockbuster deal this summer, with Lucas Paqueta expected to follow him through the exit door amid growing interest from Manchester City.
West Ham’s visit to the Vitality Stadium will warm Bournemouth up for a challenging start to the season, with Iraola’s side facing four of the ‘big six’ in their first seven league matches.
Even though they head into proceedings as slight underdogs, the Cherries can find inspiration in their traditionally impressive season openings, having gone unbeaten in their last five day-one outings (W3, D2).
But West Ham will put that record to the test after overcoming Bournemouth in their last three top-flight showdowns by an aggregate score of 10-0, including a 2-0 win in this corresponding fixture in 2022/23.
Bournemouth’s patch pre-season form cannot inspire much confidence as Iraola’s men have alternated between winning and losing across their five summer friendlies (W3, L2).
Speaking of poor pre-season showings, West Ham’s eye-catching three-game off-season start looks like ancient history after the Hammers lost twice in their last three games (D1).
Though results in friendly matches aren’t valid, Moyes cannot justifiably hope to end his side’s dreadful run of four consecutive away defeats at the tail-end of the 2022/23 Premier League season.
West Ham must address their travel sickness if they’re to improve in 2023/24 after managing just three wins on 19 top-flight road trips last term (D3, L13).
Worryingly, they found goals hard to come by on hostile turf, as witnessed by an embarrassing average of 0.84 goals scored per Premier League trip in the previous campaign.
Bournemouth boss Iraola will be without former West Ham right-back Ryan Fredericks and standout midfielder Marcus Tavernier on his touchline debut in the Premier League.
The Spaniard should have vice-captain Adam Smith and Lloyd Kelly available for selection, though both are likely to start on the bench due to minor fitness problems.
On the other hand, West Ham will take this trip at full strength as Moyes miraculously managed to keep his squad free of injuries during an extensive pre-season.
But after failing to sign Rice’s replacement, a lack of creativity in the engine room could highlight the Hammers’ curtain-raising contest.
Bournemouth potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Neto; Jaidon Anthony, Marcos Senesi, Illya Zabarnyi, Milos Kerkez; Lewis Cook, Joe Rothwell; David Brooks, Philip Billing, Dango Ouattara; Dominic Solanke.
West Ham potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Lucasz Fabianski; Vladimir Coufal, Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna, Emerson; Lucas Paqueta, Tomas Soucek, Flynn Downes; Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio, Said Benrahma.
We Say: Bournemouth 1-1 West Ham United
If Iraola’s results with Rayo were anything to go by, Bournemouth should prove a much more resilient defensive side than last season.
Among the sides to have secured Premier League survival, the Cherries were the only team to concede 70+ goals, which could be the main reason behind Iraola’s appointment.
With West Ham taking this trip without their best midfielder and given their well-documented scoring woes, we expect an evenly-contested draw.
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