Eddie Howe looking forward to Chelsea match-up
Published 04/12/2015 | 11:41
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is relishing the challenge of Saturday's trip to Chelsea after last weekend's dramatic draw against Everton.
The Cherries twice recovered from seemingly lost causes - the second deep into stoppage time - to earn a 3-3 result against the Toffees, salvaging a vital point in their bid for Premier League survival.
And Howe believes his players have been buoyed by that performance and are ready to take on Jose Mourinho's below-par defending champions.
"It was certainly a nice feeling at the end of the game," the 38-year-old said, recalling the second of Junior Stanislas' levellers after Ross Barkley had briefly restored the visitors' lead at the Vitality Stadium.
"Those contrasting emotions in the last few minutes were so extreme.
"You hope a result like that can really boost the confidence of the players and that belief system you need to win games or get a point.
"Naturally it is a really good challenge for all of us. These are the games you want to be involved in.
"You want to be able to compete with the top (managers). He (Mourinho) has a record that is unrivalled.
"I didn't expect to be so close to them (in the table) but I think they are in a false position (14th). I am sure they will pick up points and climb.
"We are playing the champions. For me they are one of the best teams in the country.
"We are not underestimating the team. We fully respect them as a team and we are going to have to be at our very best to get anything."
Bournemouth have been struggling with injuries so far this season, with 10 of their squad unavailable for the Chelsea clash.
Howe said: "Whenever you get injuries, it is a test and a challenge for your squad to adapt and I think we have done that with the outfield positions.
"Certain people have been given opportunities that maybe would not have expected to get them, but they have grasped them in recent weeks.
"I think whoever is called upon will step up and help the team."
Bournemouth have been steadily improving over the last month, drawing the last two games, and victory over the champions could move them out of the relegation zone.
"The Premier League, for me, has been about picking up points where you can and we have done it in style," Howe said. "Now it's about adding wins to those performances.
"From our perspective, we are really happy with the last four games apart from the first few minutes against Southampton (2-0 defeat on November 1) where we thought we were poor - we are building momentum."
Chelsea head into the weekend only five points above the Cherries, but Howe reckons the Blues are starting to look like the title-winning team of last season.
He said: "It certainly looks like they are back to their normal selves and I thought the way they played against Tottenham (0-0 draw last Sunday) defensively was excellent and I don't think you can doubt their attacking quality.
"Maybe from that perspective we are meeting them a few weeks too late, but from our perspective we are in a good place.
"If we are in a good place and we perform then we can compete. When we are preparing for a game, it is always about us."
Howe will be without Harry Arter (hamstring) this weekend but is optimistic the midfielder will not be out for as long as first feared. Winger Marc Pugh (Achilles) has started running again but remains short of match fitness.