Bournemouth have endured a dismal start to 2017 so far. They have conceded three goals in three consecutive games and have also failed to win, but fans will be hoping a return to the Vitality Stadium to host Watford on Jan. 21 will bring better luck.
Their opponents have suffered equally bad form and have not won in the Premier League since their 3-2 victory over Everton on Dec. 10. The Hornets have also scored just two goals in their last six outings which will be a pleasing statistic for Eddie Howe as his side's defence has been extremely vulnerable to shipping goals of late.
Tyrone Mings is likely to start again at the back for the Cherries despite his horror show against Hull City last time out. His permanent position in the team is doubtful and Howe should already be looking for a new defender, but a similarly bad performance from Mings would urge him to buy a new centre-back even quicker. This is something he should have addressed in the summer but now is better late than never.
Fellow defender Marc Wilson was never going to fit the bill and as the season progressed, it has become clearer that his acquisition was provoked with panic while Mings also appears not to be up to scratch. Admittedly he has very little Premier League experience and may still develop into a solid player, but right now, the Cherries need to shore up the defence quickly as, apart from the bottom four sides, no team have conceded more goals than them.
Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels have been profitable in attack by supplying four goals and six assists between them, but this has come at a cost. It is clear Howe is not going to change his philosophy regarding his attacking full-backs any time soon so a more reliable partner for Steve Cook is a must. Howe did say before the Hull clash that he wants his defence to prove to him he doesn't need to dip into the transfer market but another defeat to an unimpressive Watford side would leave him with no other option.
Andrew Surman's position in the side is another question mark Bournemouth have ahead of the Watford game. His passing is a useful asset in the middle but Dan Gosling's constant work rate is arguably more valuable.
Surman has played in 13 games this season and is yet to score or even create an assist. For a deep-lying playmaker who is the creative pivot in the Bournemouth midfield, that is a poor return. Gosling, on the other hand, has scored twice and poses more of a threat in front of goal. Scoring has never really been a problem for the Cherries, but their recent goal drought needs an injection of positivity and Gosling could be the player to do just that.
One of the other shining lights in the midfield more recently has been Ryan Fraser. The 22-year-old recently affirmed his commitment to the club by even rating the Cherries as a bigger priority than potentially playing for Scotland.
It's a credit to Howe that even when the chips are down and team morale is low that the players are still fully committed to the cause and genuinely interested in bettering the team's performances. It would be easy for Fraser to switch attention to representing his country but he has kept focus on club football which is a good sign and reflects well on the rest of the team.
The striker to lead the line is the last dilemma in the lead up to the Watford game. Callum Wilson, Josh King and Benik Afobe haven't scored in a goal in open play since the latter's in the Dec. 31 fixture against Swansea. This attacking trio have also managed just 11 goals all season with a large chunk of these coming from the spot.
Afobe would be the preferred choice for the next game but a new signing would be ideal for the remainder of the campaign. Wilson did score against the Hornets in this season's earlier clash which may tempt Howe into starting him but his recent form has been poor. If a decent offer came in from the striker, Bournemouth should consider letting him leave.
Watford are a side the Cherries should definitely be looking to beat at home, but another loss might expose even more deficiencies in the team. All season they have been either been easy on the eye and very successful, or they have been the complete opposite. A couple of tweaks to the team and a win should be a safe bet, but as we have witnessed in recent weeks, Bournemouth are a very unpredictable side.