Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker said his team will “need to bring a fighting spirit and a real determination” as the Cherries start life back in the Premier League with a home game against Aston Villa.
Parker’s team finished second in the Championship last season to earn automatic promotion back to the top-flight after a two-year exodus. And the former Fulham boss knows it will be a tough first game back against Steven Gerrard’s side on Saturday.
“We’re going into the biggest league in the world and we worked tirelessly last year to be in this position,” Parker told reporters. “We need to bring a fighting spirit and a real determination on the weekend if we want to get something out of the game.
“As I said, us as a group of players, along with the fans, the staff, the owner and everyone else, it’s something we all wanted last year and we need to embrace that.”
Gerrard left Rangers to join Villa in November 2021 after Dean Smith was sacked after a run of five consecutive league defeats.
Gerrard steadied the ship but the Midlands club ended up finishing in 14th place after a poor end to the season, though they have since secured the signing of sought-after centre back Diego Carlos while also making the loan deal of Philippe Coutinho permanent.
“We want to improve, for sure, on our 14th finish last year,” Gerrard said ahead of the Bournemouth game. “We’re very much looking forward and trying to improve our league position and finish in the top half of the league.
“We want to have positive cup runs as well. We want to try and make our fans happy.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bournemouth – Dominic Solanke
The striker finished as the highest-scoring English player in the top four English leagues last season. His goals will be needed if the Cherries are to stay up this campaign, so he will be keen get off to a good start and net against the Villans.
Aston Villa – Philippe Coutinho
The Brazil international scored and assisted for Liverpool in his only previous visit to the Vitality Stadium. Can he add another goal involvement there in the colours of Aston Villa?
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Bournemouth’s first ever Premier League game in August 2015 was a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa – they have won all three of their league meetings with the Villans since then, each by a 2-1 scoreline.
– Parker and Gerrard met 15 times as players in the Premier League, with Gerrard winning nine to Parker’s four (two draws). All four of Parker’s victories against Gerrard came in home games (twice with Charlton, once with Newcastle, once with West Ham).
– Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last 10 home league games (W6 D4) since a 1-0 loss to Hull in January. However, in the Premier League the Cherries have won just three of their last 13 at the Vitality Stadium (D3 L7).
– After losing their first ever meeting with Bournemouth 3-0 in October 1971, Aston Villa have scored in each of their last eight against the Cherries in all competitions. Nine of their 11 total goals against them have come in the second half of games, including all four in the Premier League.
– Aston Villa have won just once on the five previous occasions they have kicked off a Premier League campaign against a promoted side (D1 L3), though that victory did come at Bournemouth in 2015-16.