Jack Wilshere leads list of Cherries players looking to impress at Spurs
Despite a recent defeat to league leaders Chelsea, Bournemouth still remain in a decent run of results and a victory over Tottenham is definitely achievable. The Cherries admittedly struggle in matches away from the Vitality Stadium, but with Josh King in such impressive form, the south coast club have a good chance against any side. Manager Eddie Howe said it's likely to be one of the toughest games of the season, but if King is firing properly, they should be aiming for three points.
It's well known that Bournemouth have their problems defensively, and conceding 59 goals so far this campaign highlights the issues within the back line. Steve Cook has performed tremendously well, but because of the style of attacking full-back Eddie Howe insists on, it often means he's left with too much work, which subsequently costs the team goals. His current centre-back partner, Simon Francis, is a liability at the best of times and even Artur Boruc has had a very dodgy patch this season. However, there have been clear improvements in the last month and they will need to be on their best game to stifle Tottenham's Harry Kane successfully.
With Andrew Surman ruled out because of injury, Harry Arter, Dan Gosling and Jack Wilshere remain the options in central midfield, with the latter likely to be the least preferred despite Gosling being a doubt for the game. While he does create chances and is a clear threat when on the ball, Wilshere has been largely ineffective. He's still yet to score in a Bournemouth shirt and has only two assists to his name all season, which for someone playing in the No. 10 position is a poor return.
While Boruc and Francis are playing for their Bournemouth careers the rest of the season, Wilshere is playing for his future in an Arsenal shirt. If the Gunners do decide to eventually let him leave, there's a good chance Howe will not be interested in signing him permanently, either, as his performances have been far from standout. If he starts against Spurs, he desperately needs to put in a good performance.
On the flanks, Ryan Fraser, Jordon Ibe, Junior Stanislas and Marc Pugh each offer something different, and despite Howe's loyalty to Pugh, he should be looking to implement more pace on the wings. While Ibe has had a very mediocre season, he's shown his talent in little flashes throughout and his pace could be very useful at White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino's side have only conceded only 22 goals all season and the Cherries need to utilise everything in order to have the best chance of claiming a result.
Fraser's unpredictability and Stanislas' reliability on set pieces offer two other decent options to consider on the wings. It's a selection dilemma, but Howe desperately needs to make the right choices as this could be where the game is won or lost. King needs decent service, otherwise it's likely to be an unsuccessful afternoon for the Cherries. Bournemouth's selection of central midfielders are very workmanlike and lack creativity, so the responsibility of that falls on the shoulders of the wide men.
While relegation remains a distant but still present threat, the season is largely done for the Cherries. There's little to play for besides position in the league table, but at the back of every player's mind is their role for next year. Six games remain and even questionable players on the periphery, such as Lys Mousset, will be keen to at least get some game time to prove they are worth a place at the club. A trip to White Hart Lane is an extremely difficult place to make a claim, but difficult opponents allow players to really impress in preparation for the year ahead.
After a disappointing defeat to Chelsea last time out, Howe will be looking for a response from the players and admittedly that's a very big ask against a nearly equally impressive Spurs side. That being said, the Cherries have proved repeatedly this season that they are more than capable of beating any side when they are fully firing. They remain the underdogs, but gaining some points isn't out the realm of possibility.
Will Kent is a freelance journalist who has worked for AFC Bournemouth, ESPN UK and ESPN FC, among others. Twitter: @WillKentSPORT