West Ham struggled in the absence of unsettled forward Marko Arnautovic as Callum Wilson underlined his value to Bournemouth by setting them on course to victory at the Vitality Stadium
Austria international Arnautovic, who has been heavily linked with a big-money move to China, was left out of the Hammers’ squad for the trip to Dorset.
Cherries top scorer Wilson has himself been subject to January transfer rumours and he returned from a two-game injury absence in style by smashing home early in the first half before Joshua King sealed a 2-0 win in stoppage time.
Wilson’s thunderous strike was his 10th Premier League goal of the season and is likely to fuel further speculation of him moving to Chelsea or replacing Arnautovic at the London Stadium.
It also helped end Bournemouth’s five-match winless run in all competitions and secure just a third victory from their last 13 top-flight games.
Arnautovic’s omission was the main talking point ahead of the south coast clash.
Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini said on Thursday that the 29-year-old would be allowed to depart, subject to a “good deal for both parties” being agreed.
Andy Carroll took Arnautovic’s place in the only change made by Pellegrini following last weekend’s win over Arsenal.
Bournemouth were boosted by the return of England international Wilson from a hamstring niggle and he carved out an excellent early chance, crossing the ball to the back post from the right only for the unmarked David Brooks to wastefully head wide.
Bournemouth perhaps had cause for complaint when a Nathan Ake header was ruled out with 20 minutes played.
Holland defender Ake was onside when he headed home Ryan Fraser’s inswinging cross from the left but assistant referee Adrian Holmes raised his flag, presumably against Wilson who challenged for the ball without touching it.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe opted to drop goalkeeper Asmir Begovic for the first time in the top flight since his 2017 move from Chelsea, preferring Artur Boruc.
The 38-year-old Boruc was untested in the opening 45 minutes, although recent Hammers’ signing Samir Nasri flashed a powerful drive just wide.
Seven previous Premier League meetings between these sides produced 28 goals and there was promising signs of that tally increasing early in the second period.
Cherries defender Steve Cook saw a header kept out by Lukasz Fabianski, before the West Ham goalkeeper prevented an own goal from Pablo Zabaleta moments later.
West Ham should then have taken the lead when Carroll blazed wildly over from around two yards out with the goal gaping after Michail Antonio made a mess of the initial opportunity.
The miss proved even more costly four minutes later.
Issa Diop produced a crunching tackle on Fraser wide on the left and the ball looped to the edge of the area where Wilson allowed it to bounce before dispatching an unstoppable effort into the top left corner.
Wilson almost doubled his tally in the 71st minute with a low shot which brushed the fingertips of Fabianski and struck the right post.
Cherries winger Brooks was denied a 77th-minute penalty after going down under a clumsy challenge from Angelo Ogbonna, while Hammers substitute Javier Hernandez finally produced his side’s first shot on target two minutes later, although it was straight at Boruc.
And King ensured the Hammers were return home empty handed as he coolly converted Brooks’ centre in the closing moments.
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