Howe’s Bournemouth takes on Tottenham in one of the weekend’s matches to watch
While Jose Mourinho and Juan Mata’s return to Chelsea in Manchester red is the splashiest Premier League match of the week, Saturday’s earliest offering (7:30am ET, NBCSN) is the most intriguing. Tottenham Hotspur, under the guidance of the respected-yet-still-underrated Mauricio Pochettino, is the last of this season’s undefeated Premier League teams and currently sits in third behind Manchester City and Arsenal. Bournemouth, after a ragged start to its season, has gone 3–1–1 in its last five matches to lift the team to 11th, punctuated by a cruel 6–1 dismantling of Hull last weekend. Manager Eddie Howe, still 13 months shy of his 40th birthday, is relying on the likes of Junior Stanislas, Harry Arter, and a rental Jack Wilshere in competition, though it’s been a total team effort, with no less than 10 Cherries getting on the scoresheet in Premier League games so far this season. In last week’s Hull-miliation, for instance, defender Charlie Daniels (sans band) opened the scoring in the 5th minute and then provided the assist on the sixth and final goal 83 minutes later.
There’s talk (and odds-on favorite action) that Howe will replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal’s helm should he ever step down, but there’s also talk that Howe would be an inspired hire to ferry England through World Cup qualification and an anticipated trip to Russia. In an interview earlier this week, Pochettino was nudged into an endorsement of Howe’s potential for leading the Three Lions. But would Howe really want to become England’s fourth manager of 2016, with all the cynicism, self-flagellating fandom, and inevitable jokey countdowns to Day 68 that would come with that? If you’re Eddie Howe, isn’t it more fun to see if you can take an overachieving Premier League team into the Europa League instead?