West Bromwich Albion vs AFC Bournemouth Preview: Duo seek flying start

Match preview of the opening Premier League clash on the 2017/18 season between West Bromwich Albion and AFC Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon at The Hawthorns.

West Bromwich Albion vs AFC Bournemouth Preview: Duo seek flying start
Photo: Warren Little / Getty Images

As the 2017/18 Premier League campaign begins on Saturday, West Bromwich Albion entertain AFC Bournemouth at The Hawthorns.

With domestic competition resuming after the summer break, both sides will be looking for a winning start in the West Midlands this weekend.

Baggies eye top half

In their now eighth consecutive top-flight campaign, the Baggies embark on another term, a now fully-fledged Premier League outfit. Finishing the campaign in tenth back in May, at times Tony Pulis' men punched well above their weight and suggested making an unlikely bid for Europe - before falling away in March.

Whilst a repeat of similar aspirations would be a tad fanciful, West Brom's new Chinese ownership is proof that the financial backing in is place.

This summer has so far seen little activity in the transfer market, with the additions of just Jay Rodriguez from Southampton and defender Ahmed Hegazy from Egyptian Premier League side Al Ahly, the only new faces of significance. That said however, both will have their parts to play this season. 

Cherries keen to make statement

The Cherries meanwhile, have strengthened in almost every facet of their squad. 

Eddie Howe made a double raid on champions Chelsea for former loanee Nathan Ake and Blues stopper Asmir Begovic, for a combined fee of £30m.

Dutchman Ake returns to the club after an initial loan period was cut short back in January, when Antonio Conte elected to recall the versatile defender following a string of impressive showings on the south coast. Both Ake and Begovic will further bolster an already well-drilled set-up.

Bournemouth also now boast a more clinical threat up front, following the addition of striker Jermain Defoe from relegated Sunderland, just days after the conclusion of last season.

Only in the past few days, the club has seen an ambitious move for Napoli midfielder Jorginho turned down and with still a few weeks to go until the window slams shut until January, the Cherries are intent on a strong campaign.

In pre-season, Saturday's visitors to the West Midlands boast the superior record. In the six games they played, Howe's men lost just the once to Valencia CF, impressively holding Partenopei 2-2 last weekend at the Vitality Stadium.

In contrast, West Brom have lost half of their eight games and won just twice, suffering defeats at Bristol Rovers and away to La Liga side Deportivo La Coruña.

Team news

West Brom could be without defender Jonny Evans for the visit of Bournemouth, with the Northern Irishman a doubt with a tight hamstring. His centre-back partner Gareth McAuley will definitely miss out however, with a thigh complaint.

Midfielders Nacer Chadli and Chris Brunt are both doubts with hip and calf injuries respectively, whilst James Morrison misses out with a complication from last season' ACL knee injury.

Eddie Howe is expected to hand a full debut a permanent Bournemouth player to Nathan Ake, however Jermain Defoe is a doubt with a groin problem. 

Junior Stanislas has been ruled out for up to a month with a similar issue, whilst defender Steve Cook is a doubt with a knock. Striker Callum Wilson meanwhile is set to return in October.

West Bromwich Albion FC