Bournemouth have gone big to secure Premier League status with Preston North End next up

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There is currently an embarrassment of riches at the Vitality Stadium, as Bournemouth have one of the best squads in the division.

The Cherries have kept a lot of their Premier League talent after getting relegated last season and have also been steadily adding to it, including bringing in five on a whirlwind transfer deadline day in January.

They are second in the Championship but one of the biggest surprises of the season is that they are not sitting top of the tree.

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Instead that honour belongs to their head coach’s former team Fulham.

Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker.Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker.
Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker.

Scott Parker left the Cottagers in the summer to move to Bournemouth but could finish the season below his former side, as the Cherries are currently nine points behind with two games in hand.

There are a couple of PNE connections within the visitors’ squad ahead of this weekend’s game, Ben Pearson remains at the Vitality after his move there last January.

Pearson has not nailed down a starting spot under Parker, much to the surprise of many a PNE fan, but is used regularly. He has not started in their last four league games.

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Another North End link comes in the shape of James Hill, who moved there from Fleetwood Town in January. He is the son of former Preston left back Matt Hill and was linked with a move to Deepdale as his contract neared its end, with the south coast side swooping.

Elsewhere, however, Bournemouth are a side full of quality and are led by 20-goal striker Dominic Solanke.

The £18m signing from Liverpool has benefited from being in a side that creates plenty of chances for him, with exciting players around him.

One of the unexpected stars of the Cherries’ season so far is Jaidon Anthony, who has largely held down a place on the wing despite plenty of investment in those areas.

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A product from the academy, he has seven goals and four assists this season.

Parker’s side did have a bit of a form issue coming towards the end of January, and they solved that by reinvesting in the squad and trying to make sure that they were to return to the Premier League.

In came Freddie Woodman on loan, a goalkeeper that so far has sat on their bench due to the excellent form of Mark Travers, that has been going on all season.

In defence, they signed Liverpool hero Nat Phillips, who stepped into the breach last season during the Reds’ injury crisis and was tipped with a £15m moves to the Premier League, he also arrived on loan.

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Todd Cantwell and Siriki Dembele strengthened their wide areas, Cantwell stepping down from the top flight having lit up this division before, and Dembele the star man at struggling Peterborough United.

To top off their shopping they also added one of the division’s most accomplished striker, Welsh international Kieffer Moore. Unfortunately for him, however, he broke his foot very early into life on the south coast and will be out for some time.

Saturday’s game represents a tough task for PNE but having beaten Bournemouth once already this season, Ryan Lowe’s men will have nothing to fear going up against the favourites for the league – they have always relished being underdogs anyway.