Eddie Howe has told his Bournemouth players to forget that Watford are bottom of the Premier League when they head to Vicarage Road.
The Hornets currently prop up the table, boasting just four points, and are without a win from nine matches so far.
However, with Quique Sanchez Flores now back at the helm, Watford have drawn their past two matches, picking up a hard-earned point at Tottenham last weekend.
Howe wants his team to focus on their own performance rather than any of Watford’s shortcomings as Bournemouth chase a first Premier League win since September 20.
“We know the start they have had, but I think it in no way reflects on their quality,” Howe said.
“They have got very good players and an outstanding manager, so we know it is going to be a tough game.”
Howe added: “From us going into this game, we have to forget about their league position.
“We have to concentrate on the game, give our best, give our all to win and match Watford’s desire to win.
“We can only control ourselves. If we went there focusing on their league position, it would be totally the wrong way to prepare for this game.
“For me, it is a pivotal game. The league is so tight.
“If we could get a positive result, we could be looking upwards and, if we don’t, you are potentially looking the other way.
“Although it is early stages in the league campaign, this is a key game.”
Howe was left surprised by Watford’s testing start to the season, which saw Javi Gracia sacked in early September.
“Historically, they have been a very good Premier League team,” the Bournemouth boss told a press conference.
“I think it is nothing permanent for them, it is a temporary moment that they are finding themselves in.
“They have got the quality and have proved that. They have got the manager they know and who has done very well for them, so I think they will come back and show what a good team they are.”
Howe expects to have midfielder Jefferson Lerma available again following his recovery from a hip problem picked up on international duty with Colombia which forced him to miss last week’s goalless home draw with Norwich.
It was a first clean sheet of the Premier League campaign for goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who has just put pen to paper on a new long-term contract.
The 21-year-old, who finished last season on loan at AFC Wimbledon, has made the most of his opportunity following Asmir Begovic’s summer move away to Qarabag.
Howe feels there is plenty more to come from the young goalkeeper.
“It is the start of a long journey for Aaron, but we are delighted he’s signed a new contract,” the Bournemouth manager said.
“He has been in great form, credit to him. There is still a long way to go, but he has done well.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.