Bournemouth's Premier League survival is not in its hands but the players must approach Sunday's game at Everton as if it is the most important match of their careers, manager Eddie Howe said on Friday.
Bournemouth, which is 19th in the league, must win and hope both Aston Villa (17th) and Watford (18th) lose at West Ham United and Arsenal respectively. That would leave all three teams on 34 points but Howe's side would have a better goal difference.
Yet a draw or a loss at Goodison Park will see Bournemouth drop down to the Championship regardless of the other results, ending its five-year stay in England's top division.
“The next game is the biggest game of all our careers and we're going to do our best to win it. My commitment to the club has never changed and I've done my best for it since day one,” Howe told reporters.
“We have to win our game and that's what I'll be focusing on. I'm sure at some point I'll hear what's happening elsewhere, but my full attention will be on trying to win our game.
“Controlling our emotions is going to be key. You have to be in the moment and we need the players to play the game they've always done and do so to a very high standard... there's belief we can win... then we're hoping for the bit of luck.”
Bournemouth comes into the match on the back of two straight defeats, including a 2-0 loss against Southampton last time out.
“Picking yourself up becomes a ritual. You lick your wounds the night of the game and the next day,” Howe added. “It's a process unfortunately this season we've had to do. You need to be resolute and you need to be positive.”
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