Last weekend was a humbling experience for Sunderland AFC. Destroyed by Arsenal, in what could prove to be a season-defining seven minute spell, David Moyes has come out fighting this week; but, will his players follow that lead at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow?
The Sunderland boss took his players to the Nissan car plant in Washington on Thursday with two purposes - to visit the people who make up the club's support and to deliver a motivational lesson to his men.
Moyes acted on the rhetoric that he and Chief Executive, Martin Bain, have been delivering in recent weeks in aiming to reconnect the football club with the people who support it.
On the Nissan visit, the Sunderland manager said:
We have to make the players realise where people in this part of the country work. Where our fans work - we have a lot of new players. We are building a team.
The proof, as always in football, will be in the pudding. Will Sunderland finally stumble upon a winning ingredient, or will the Cherries come out on top?
Some Interesting Stats
Sunderland have used the most players in the Premier League this season (26), while AFC Bournemouth have used the fewest (15).
The Premier League record for games without a win from the start of a season is 16, set by Queens Park Rangers four years ago. The 16th game this season for Sunderland will be a home tie against Chelsea on December 14th.
Sunderland have only spent 42 minutes in front in the Premier League this season - the lowest ever (another record). Can you remember those 42 minutes of bliss-cum-terror?
Bournemouth have only lost 1 of their last 20 home games against teams positioned below them in the table.
Sunderland have only won 1 of their last 20 away games against teams positioned above them in the table.
John O'Shea is definitely out for this one. The veteran defender limped off against Arsenal last week.
That means the centre-half duties will be shared between Lamine Kone and Papy Djilobodji who have failed to impress as a pairing in any of the games they've played in together.
Javier Manquillo was dropped last week having endured a disappointing return to the Premier League. His replacement, the resolute Billy Jones, was one of the few who escaped the Stadium of Light without disgracing himself and will continue at right-back.
Jack Rodwell is rumoured to have been struggling with a hamstring strain this week, and although David Moyes did not highlight him as a doubt in his press conference, we're not expecting him to make it. The 25-year old has now gone 1,254 days without starting in a winning side.
Paddy McNair seems to be the obvious choice to replace him in midfield.
Pickford, Jones, Kone, Djilobodji, van Aanholt, Pienaar, Ndong, McNair, Watmore, Khazri, Defoe.
David Moyes has been buoyant in the run-up to this game. He has presented the bullish look of a manager under pressure who feels he has received some backing from his employer. When quizzed about the rumours which claimed he would be sacked if Sunderland fail to beat Bournemouth, he said:
I think they were all quashed weren't they?
And on the subject of Bournemouth:
Eddie Howe has done really well. They have a strong team who have come through the divisions and added to it well.
Moyes serves his one-game touchline ban at the Vitality Stadium having been sent to the stands in the EFL Cup tie at Southampton last week. If Sunderland do somehow manage three points, that in itself will write the Moyes-misses-maiden-win headlines for the Sunday papers.
Paul Bracewell and Robbie Stockdale will lead the team from the dug-out. It may even be the first time we've seen Bracewell leave his chair this season.
Eddie Howe has impressed many this year with his Bournemouth side indicating they can consolidate a decent position in the Premier League.
Howe offered no soothing words for his counterpart Moyes, but is relishing the challenge of pitting his wits against one of the longest established managers in the Premier League:
We’re coming up against a very experienced manager, a good set of players and there's no underestimating coming from us. It's going to be a tough game.
Henchard's Hopeful Prediction
Enough of this doom and gloom, Sunderland to return with a massive point: 2 - 2.