BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Ryan Fraser of AFC Bournemouth celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Leicester City at Vitality Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images,)

5 Reasons Why Bournemouth Can Be This Season's Burnley & Challenge for a Europa League Spot

This time last year, things were looking bleak for Bournemouth. The Cherries had lost their first five Premier League matches of the season, and it looked like they were facing a serious relegation battle for the first time.

Meanwhile, Burnley had lost just one of their first five matches, and were already showing the organisation and unity that would lead them back into European football for the first time in more than half a century.

12 months later, Burnley and Bournemouth meet at Turf Moor on Saturday in very different moods. The Clarets' European dream is already over and they sit rock bottom of the table, while Bournemouth are 5th after their best ever start to a Premier League campaign.

Bournemouth have picked up where Saturday's opponents left off, and they have shown plenty of evidence that they could be the next side to make an unlikely Europa League challenge. Here are five reasons why their early season form is no fluke.

1. Stability in the Dugout

With such high stakes attached to being in the Premier League, it's easy to get an itchy trigger finger at the first sign of danger. Bournemouth have had a few scares during their time in the top flight, but faith in Eddie Howe has never wavered, with the club maintaining a united front from the top down.

Howe is revered at Bournemouth, having led them from the depths of the League Two relegation zone to the promised land of the Premier League in the space of seven years. He has been tipped as a future England manager, but still feels that he has unfinished business on the south coast.

Howe has been in charge of Bournemouth just 17 days longer than Sean Dyche has held the hotseat at Burnley. Both clubs have benefited from such stability in turbulent times.

2. A Strike Force to Strike Fear

Burnley's success last season was built on their rock-solid defence, which conceded just 39 goals in the league; fewer than Arsenal. It was their strike force which cost them a tilt at the top six though, managing only 36 goals all season at less than a goal per game. Very unusual for a top half side.

Bournemouth may lack the defensive solidity of Burnley, but their forward line more than makes up for that. Josh King scored 16 Premier League goals in 2016/17, and Callum Wilson has started this season with two goals and two assists already. If he can be the difference-maker for the Cherries, an England call-up isn't out of the question.

Bolstered from the flanks by the underrated Ryan Fraser, who tore Leicester apart last weekend, and the promising youngster David Brooks, Bournemouth have the firepower to cause problems for the league's best defences.

3. Continuity and Character

Bournemouth's Championship-winning squad was built on a core of strong personalities, many of whom are still at the club. Callum Wilson, Steve Cook, Adam Smith, Ryan Fraser, Junior Stanislas and Charlie Daniels are just some of the players who remain on the books three years later, which is a testament to how well they have adapted to the step up.

Others have taken a different route. Josh King, David Brooks, Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake all failed to make the grade at bigger clubs. There have been no shortcuts to this point for any of Bournemouth's players. They've had to fight for their right to play top flight football, proving to Eddie Howe that they have the character as well as the ability.

It was exactly this ethos which created such a strong sense of togetherness at Burnley last season. The watertight back four of Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Stephen Ward were all survivors from their 2015/16 promotion campaign.

4. Sensible Spending

Bournemouth's transfer record since winning promotion to the Premier League has been a bit hit-and-miss. For every Josh King there's a Lewis Grabban; for every Nathan Ake, a Brad Smith. One of the reasons Bournemouth still have a lot of their Championship players is because many new signings haven't worked out.

Eddie Howe appears to be learning from his past mistakes by focusing on quality over quantity. Only three new players arrived at the club this summer but David Brooks already looks worth the money. Jefferson Lerma and Diego Rico, both established players in La Liga, could be shrewd additions as well.

Other clubs have taken a "throw everything at the wall and see if it sticks" approach (looking at you, Fulham) but Bournemouth's more choosy spending is bound to reap long-term rewards.

5. Brave Against the Best

Eddie Howe has never been a bus-parking manager, and the bravery of his approach wears off on his players. Bournemouth's admirable commitment to playing passing football may come across as naive sometimes, but it shows that they don't fear any opponent, and that is reflected in some of their results.

The Cherries took the scalps of Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive weeks during their first Premier League season, before coming from 3-1 down to beat Liverpool 4-3 the following year. They continued this tradition last season with another win at Stamford Bridge and a comeback victory over Arsenal.

Burnley's bravery against bigger opponents also stood them in good stead last season, particularly away from home. They won 3-2 at Chelsea on the opening day, drew at Anfield and Wembley against Liverpool and Tottenham, and only a last-minute equaliser denied them victory at Old Trafford.