Sky Sports pundit admits people will be shocked by his Bournemouth prediction

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has admitted people will be shocked by his prediction for Bournemouth this season.

Bournemouth manager Eddie HoweBournemouth manager Eddie Howe

The Cherries finished 16th in the Premier League last season as Eddie Howe continued his remarkable work at Dean Court.

Bournemouth won plenty of friends along the way too with their free flowing attacking style pleasing on the eye.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe and players applaud the fans at the end of the gameBournemouth manager Eddie Howe and players applaud fans at the end of last season

Howe's men were rarely in any real danger of being dragged into the relegation mix in their debut season in the English top flight as Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Norwich City dropped through the dreaded trap door.

They will come unstuck this season, though, and be relegated back to the Championship.

That's the view of Sky Sports pundit and former Portsmouth hero Paul Merson who feels Howe's side will struggle this time out.

Paul Merson - All Stars XIPaul Merson

'This season they could struggle'

"Some people might be shocked by this, but I think Bournemouth might go down (in 18th place)," Merson told Sky Sports.

"They play good football, but at the end of last season teams were getting used to the way they were playing and became a lot cuter against them. This season they could struggle."

Merson feels the Cherries will be joined in the relegation zone by newly-promoted side Hull and Burnley.

Liverpool's Jordon Ibe applauds the fans at the end of the matchJordan Ibe has signed for Bournemouth from Liverpool

Returning stars and new boys make Cherries stronger

While the ex Pompey man makes some salient points, its must be noted that Howe somehow managed to keep Bournemouth up despite long-term injuries to their three key players Max Gradel, Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mills.

They have all three back fit this season and have splashed out on the likes of Jordon Ibe and Brad Smith from Liverpool, Lewis Cook from Leeds United, Lys Mousset from Le Havre and Nathan Ake on loan from Chelsea.

Bournemouth have one of the toughest starts, though, entertaining Jose Mourinho's title hopefuls Manchester United on the opening day before a daunting trip to the Olympic Stadium to face Slaven Bilic's West Ham.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch