November, and win-less Sunderland sit forlornly at the foot of the Premier League, eight points from the safety zone.
Saturday's fixture is absolutely a must-return-with-something if we are going to gain any pre-Christmas momentum to stay in contention at the bottom of the table. Anything less than a point will be viewed as a disaster.
Bournemouth's Vitality Stadium is probably sold out for the arrival of Sunderland - again proving we are the team every home fan wants to see. Though in truth, we're not sure if they sold them all or just gave them away:
Hopefully someone saved a seat for David Moyes - banished to the stands for this one, his deputies Paul Bracewell and Robbie Stockdale will take over touchline duties.
If Eddie Howe establishes AFC Bournemouth as a mid-table Premier League side this season he will deserve every plaudit coming his way. He conducted his pre-match press conference this morning and was in chipper form. On the visit of Sunderland, he said:
You're going to get the cliches from me this morning! There are no easy games in the Premier League. Things change from week to week.
They don't if you're a Sunderland fan Eddie.
Jack Wilshere, on loan from Arsenal, probably did little to allay the slight paranoia Bournemouth fans are feeling about being in the top half of the Premier League.
The former England international managed to patronise them and even his country speaking to Sky Sports, discussing the merits of Eddie Howe:
I know how much he loves Bournemouth but in the future he could definitely work with a big team, or possibly even England.
If you're after a 'big team' Eddie, Sunderland may be in the market for a new boss soon. And as Sam Allardyce proved this summer - the England gig is even harder than the Stadium of Light one. Fancy it?
The Bournemouth project is a means to an end for Wilshere - a one season job to get fit and reestablish himself at the peak of English football. With the player hinting he doesn't necessarily envisage a return to Arsenal, Arsene Wenger contradicted him on whether he has a future at the Emirates, saying "I think he has, but that's my opinion".
Bournemouth Defender Charlie Daniels, veteran of over 160 games for the Cherries, has been discussing record signing Jordan Ibe and the other younger starlets in the AFC team, telling the Bournemouth Echo that the Cherries can emulate West Ham's 1966 side:
We have quite a young team now, so for us a group to stay together and build together it's up to me and the other older lads to help the younger players develop the same mindset we have - and to teach them how to play the Bournemouth way.
Eddie Howe to England - and Bournemouth to win the World Cup?
Meanwhile, midfielder Dan Gosling knows precisely how to beat Sunderland - just keep at them until the final whistle. Even if the game is a stalemate in the dying minutes, points can be won. Gosling told AFC Bournemouth's official website:
We know it’ll be tough against Sunderland. Just because they’re bottom of the league doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy game and we’ll have to be at it for the whole 90 minutes.
With the 85th-minute Sunderland team sat on nine points, and the 90th-minute version stuck on two, late goals are David Moyes' Achilles heel. The whole 90 minutes, or more, may well get Gosling a result and there's no doubt that's what Eddie Howe has been telling his players this week.
Gosling has previously worked with Moyes having signed for him at Everton in 2008 and told the Bournemouth Daily Echo:
David Moyes is a great manager. He has experience not just in the Premier League but also abroad and is the right man to turn it round.
It’s still early days. There are a lot of points to play for and they need to start winning games.
The Local Pundit
A club lacking much history in the upper echelons of football, Bournemouth borrow a pundit from south coast neighbours, Southampton.
Matt Le Tissier has been complimentary about Eddie Howe this week - the stock of the Cherries boss shows no sign of abating. 'Le Tiss' awarded Howe his Manager of The Season (so far) and said:
Having little old Bournemouth in the top half of the table is a remarkable achievement.
AFC Bournemouth, so named in order to ensure the club is alphabetically at top of the table every close season, have an air of frantic denial of their obvious inferiority complex about them.
Their supporters have a thing about 'big clubs' but pretend that having the second smallest Premier League ground in the competition's history doesn't bother them. At a capacity of sub-12,000 the Vitality Stadium (the smallest was Oldham's Boundary Park at 10,638) holds less than one of the stands at the Stadium of Light.
In fairness, Premier League success has enabled the south coast club to unveil ambitious plans to expand Dean Court. Following the construction of a new south stand, the stadium will hold 14,529. Here's an artist's impression of how all those extra people arriving for a match will look:
Meanwhile, on forum VitalBournemouth they're in no mood to continue accepting the tag of 'tin-pot'. One fan, whose username is devastatingly apt for the south coast retirement village, has this to say:
If the town of Bournemouth is bigger than the city of Sunderland, and they attract attendances which are a quarter of what the Stadium of Light does, what are they all doing down there every Saturday?
Bournemouth are, or more correctly, were the smallest club to reach the hallowed ground of the Premier League. In a way, the huge TV-revenue associated with England's top division is a massive leveler for clubs who can find their way into it.
A club like AFC Bournemouth can match the revenues of an established Premier League club (like Sunderland) nowadays and their blueprint for creating something special on the south coast appears to be succeeding.