Feb 10 (Reuters) - Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is counting on their impressive home record against the top teams in the Premier League this season to help his side arrest an alarming loss of momentum when Manchester City visit the Vitality Stadium on Monday.
Bournemouth, who won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2015, are used to punching above their weight.
Of the top eight teams in the table, only Manchester United have beaten them at home in the league so far this season.
Draws with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal and wins over Liverpool, Everton and West Bromwich Albion have given Howe the belief that Bournemouth can hurt City, though he may be missing defenders Simon Francis, Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith.
“We’ve done well against some top teams this year. There’s been no problem there,” Howe told a news conference on Friday.
“We’ve been able to be very competitive and inspire ourselves to some great performances, so we’re going to have to do that again.”
Apart from Manchester City, league leaders Chelsea are the only team in the top eight yet to visit the Vitality Stadium.
City, who are third in the table, are hitting their stride at the right time, with three wins and a draw in their last four games in all competitions.
January signing Gabriel Jesus has also made an instant impact with three goals in his last two.
”We’re going to need to be very good this week to get anything against City,“ Howe added. ”We respect their players but we can’t be fearful.
“The times we’ve played City they’ve been excellent. We’ve aspired to play at their level and the challenge is to match them.”
Bournemouth, who lost their most recent encounter with City 4-0 in September, have dropped uncomfortably close to the relegation zone after failing to win a single game this year.
The team were ninth in the table at the end of 2016, but are currently 14th, six points above the bottom three, although Howe is not ready to panic.
”I don’t think worry is the word,“ he said. ”I think we know that we need to pick up points. We haven’t really analysed the table at any length.
”I‘m aware that it’s not as good as it was so the challenge for us is to get the points we need as quickly as possible.
“Nothing changes in terms of how we play... We’ve been in this position before. It’s nothing new for us.” (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Toby Davis)