Sunday, 7 February 2016

Frustrating Arsenal will be the Cherries pleasure

Arsenal have been creating an immense amount of chance in games and while they did not find the net against Southampton it is now the turn of another south coast side to make things difficult for the Gunners. Keeping a clean sheet though has been a big test in itself for the Cherries and to do that they are going to have to put in a performance that is even better than their last home game when they may have won comfortably, but had to concede possession without losing concentration.

It is fair to say that AFCB's possession football will be challenged against Arsenal and it will be a fascinating midfield tussle on the tight Dean Court pitch. AFCB will go at Arsenal and attack down the flanks and it is probably the Cherries best chance of success, whereas Wenger will know that set pieces have been a problem for AFCB and drawing fouls in and around the Cherries' box is something Arsenal are likely to do well. Defending corners is an area where Artur Boruc and his defenders are going to have to be extra vigilant, but they can look to break fast from such situations when they do win the ball.
The Cherries have not been beaten by any team
home and away yet - Arsenal are trying to break that record 
having eaten AFCB at the Emirates stadium.
Pace is something that no centre half likes but AFCB can certainly get at Per Mertesacker in this way if he plays and it may be a game where a second half appearance of Junior Stanislas or Josh King would be very effective if Arsenal over commit in going forward. The leading goal threat for AFCB will be Benik Afobe and getting service to him in the box is going to be vital, as Petr Cech will be very difficult to beat from distance. 

What Howe does not want to see is any gifted goals. It is important that AFCB look to frustrate and get Arsenal to do the things they don't want to like running back towards their own goal. Against the big teams you just can't afford to give them a head start. Having taken some points off of Leicester, Man Utd and West Ham though, the Cherries know that they can get chances against teams in the top six. At home there has only been three wins for AFCB so far, despite there being only three Vitality games where they have failed to score. So there is a good possibility that the Cherries will get a good chance of a goal, but the bigger question we hope is, if they do get ahead, can they defend a lead against a top side like Arsenal?  

Enjoy the game! UTCIAD!

Premier Talk has an article that comments on yesterday's top of the table clash – Bellissimo Leicester!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Arsenal should be worried – Benik Afobe is loving his new club

Arsenal have been accused like many top clubs of not bringing through enough first team players to the first squad and Benike Afobe is another one that fits into that bracket. AFCB, like Wolves though, will benefit from what lessons a young Benik did take in at Arsenal and now it is somewhat ironic that he is poised to be the biggest weapon in trying to take down the Londoners.

It is hard to back against Benik at the moment. Three goals in his last three games, the only thing I'm wondering is when is he going to net more than once in a game? In the match against Crystal Palace, Benik showed that he has predator qualities in the way he saw the chance to score when Matt Ritchie's shot was only blocked by Hennessey and rebounded out and Benik was ready to inflict another defeat on Crystal Palace. The goal itself was clever as Hennessey was recovering from his first save, but Benik really strained to get as much power on the header as he could to ensure the flight of the ball moved away from the keeper and towards the left corner of the goal. 
Junior Stanislas and Benik Afobe.
As a graduate of the Arsenal school of football, Benik will have been most excited about this Sunday game as soon as he saw it on the fixture list. I can only imagine what it would mean to him to score in this game and any striker would be delighted to have on record that they have beaten Petr Cech on their card. No doubt, Charlie Daniels is still the name on the penalty takers board, but he might have to sprint up from left back pretty quickly from stopping Benik racing for the ball in this game. As the new boy though, I'd expect Benik to be well behaved unless he was on a hat-trick in which case a discussion might take place - what a lovely situation that would be!

What is pleasing is that Benik is only going to get better in playing games with AFCB. He has not really had time to know everyone's strengths yet, but he will add that as he goes along and start to make the runs that his colleagues know he is likely to make. That £10m does not seem quite such a gamble anymore, does it?

Score Prediction
Send in your predicted score for #AFCB v #Arsenal to @peterbell19 on Twitter. Please make your score clear to understand.

If you have a correct score prediction you are in with a chance of winning the Cherry Chimes prize which is a pair of AFCB non-tangle earphones this week. If two or more people have the correct score the winner will be picked out of the hat. Good luck!

Thanks again to Cherry Chimes Sponsors for this season Broomhill Garden BuildingsNatterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

Can Cherries scupper Arsenal's title bid?

The odds of AFCB getting a result against Arsenal may not be that favourable with the bookies, but they won't be made that long either with their recent form and the Gunner's failure to win any of their last four matches. Still, player for player, there is a massive gap between the financial pay packets of the players that Arsenal will run out at Dean Court to what the Cherries we see will be receiving, even if the Mirror reckons AFCB are loaded.
Arsenal players warm up at the Emirates – are they about to blow their title hopes?
Coming to play at our small ground though was not that easy for Everton and Man Utd and AFCB's players will have plenty of reason for believing that they can give Arsenal a closer run match than they did at the Emirates, when for the first 20 minutes they even were in the ascendancy. Arsenal have not suddenly become a goal-shy, tentative team that fear being on top of the league. They have shown signs of having a soft underbelly for several years in my opinion. Where are the players that are winners that can hold a torch up to former Gunners like Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp and Vieira? May be some of their stars of today will eventually win the Premier League, but just like Man City they have been making a poor job of taking Chelsea's crown this season with Leicester City still looking down on everyone below them.
This man was a winner - Thierry Henry, but he liked to use his hands a bit.
Does that make it a good time to play the Arsenal? I'm not so sure as much of this game will depend on how AFCB react to the team in front of them. They did not go out and put their usual forceful and goal-getting front foot forward against Spurs at home and they paid the price. But since then the Cherries have grown massively into this league and have worked out a way to get points at home as well as on the road. An unbeaten run has started again and if you look at the last 10 games that the Gunners and AFCB have had, you'll see that both teams have come away with five wins, three draws and two defeats. Remarkable isn't it?     

So while the teams are at opposite end of the table, there is probably good reason to believe that the Cherries can indeed get something out of this game. AFCB still need to play at their very best and we need the Gunners to have an off day. Indeed, I'd probably be more confident playing Arsenal after they were coming off the back of another Champions League game rather than a 0-0 at home with Saints, but once again AFCB play Arsenal just after the Saints have taken some points off of them. The pressure is all on Wenger's team though and that makes it a dangerous game for the Arsenal as AFCB are flying at the moment.

The team news for Arsenal this week is that Francis Coquelin is likely to be back in their side and Danny Wellbeck came through an U21 game this week so he could feature on the bench.

AFCB probable team
(4-5-1) Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Gosling, Arter, Pugh, Afobe

AFCB Subs: Federici, Elphick, Wiggins MacDonald, King, Grabban, Murray

Arsenal line up
Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Campbell, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud

AFCB Home Form

Arsenal Away Form

Score Prediction
Send in your predicted score for #AFCB v #Arsenal to @peterbell19 on Twitter. Please make your score clear to understand.

If you have a correct score prediction you are in with a chance of winning the Cherry Chimes prize which is a pair of AFCB non-tangle earphones this week. If two or more people have the correct score the winner will be picked out of the hat. Good luck!

Thanks again to Cherry Chimes Sponsors for this season Broomhill Garden BuildingsNatterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

Friday, 5 February 2016

There's a big push for players to get back now

With the naming of Premier League squads for the second part of the season made this week, there is some welcome news for AFCB fans who heard that Callum Wilson would be named in the squad. While he may not be back in time to play many games, Eddie Howe has given him a positive bit of belief that he will get back on the pitch this season and that is good management as it will drive him to do all he can to regain his fitness, while others can try and ensure that not to much work needs to be done by the time he is ready.

It is of course February at the moment and far to early to think of Callum running out just yet. But this month could quite feasibly see the return of Max Gradel if initial predictions are to be correct and the winger is doing all that is expected of him in terms of his rehabilitation. It certainly will feel like AFCB have a new player among their ranks when he can play and while this season has been hampered by the injuries, there is something really positive and exciting about knowing that Max and Callum are working hard to get back,
Max is on his way back.
Another player that has had an enforced period off of the pitch is Junior Stanislas and his return is likely to be quicker still, if reports are to be believed. That is especially good news as Junior was in great form and he should not have lost too much of his fitness in the last couple of weeks. He has a late fitness test to see if he can take part in Sunday's game.

As a fan what excites me is that, no disrespect to Tommy Elphick who has already made a comeback in the cup, most of the returning players are attackers and the firepower of the side is going to look formidable in the latter part of this season. Already Eddie has great options and if he can get another striker starting to hit form like Benik then the safety line will be reached sooner rather than later.  

With such a strong squad it will be an exciting end to the season, and I have been getting more confident about the prospects for getting a few more wins. Can someone tell the Daily and Sunday Express' Super computer that though, as I am scratching my head at how it can possibly think AFCB would finish on only 31 points!

Just how has Artur Boruc recovered his form?

The form of Artur Boruc has been very strong since his return to the side in early December against Chelsea. He was thought to have needed an operation on an injury that was giving him a lot of problems at the game against Spurs, but he has managed to get over the  at least until the summer when he is said to be likely to need more treatment.

It might have been unsettling for Artur to be carrying an injury that effected his mobility but perhaps he has been getting some injections and treatment to get him through games, but whatever he is doing it is working on the pitch now. Some of the saves he made against Crystal Palace were superb, especially the one against Maroane Chamakh, and his concentration levels seem extremely high during games, which is giving the back four a lot of confidence as he is coming for crosses again and getting them.
Artur Boruc at Selhurst Park.
I noted that while Ryan Allsop has gone out on loan he has been named in the 25-man Premier League squad, so could be recalled if Artur had a reoccurrence of his injury. Adam Federici though will be the main back up keeper and I am surprised how vitally important it has been to have such strong competition for the number one jersey. Adam has also been showing good form in the cup, and it no doubt helps to see your team-mate playing well in goal and raises your own performance in trying to reach the same level.

The big question for Artur and the club will come in the summer or if not before when AFCB will be trying to work out who should keep goal in 2016-17? I'm not certain if Artur only wanted a one-year deal or if the club just wanted to give him a year before deciding if they wanted to offer him a longer contract. Now any potential offer may depend on how Artur feels in regard to needing an operation or not in the summer. If they stay up, AFCB will have more money to splash out of course from May and the goalkeeping position may be one area where they want to add more quality in any case. 

While ex-Southampton players have not always been best liked at Dean Court I don't think I am alone in making a big exception to Artur Boruc who has been terrific for the team since September 2014 when he originally joined the Cherries on loan. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Smith has to stop hauling opposition players down

I can't quite understand why Adam Smith is being caught out of position quite so many times during matches at the moment. I know he likes to push on, as does Daniels, but he is risking getting sent off when he chases back only to use his strength in his arms to stop an opponent from getting a shot away. It happened again at Crystal Palace when he hauled back Wilfred Zaha and on another day he could have seen red.
Adam Smith (Smudge). 
Sadly, Smith has a habit of giving away needless free kicks in his attempts to 'take one for the team'. He did it against West Ham's Michail Antonio and the consequences of that were clearly seen when the Hammers were able to level with some precision free kick taking from Mr Payet. Luckily Palace were not so accurate in front of goal and Artur Boruc put in one of his outstanding games, so AFCB got away with Adam Smith's frantic attempts to thwart Palace strikers this time. In Smith's defence though he is the only player who played a full 90 minutes at Portsmouth before doing the same at Crystal Palace, so that was likely to have caught up with him at the end of the game.

It is always a difficult decision on whether to take down a player or not and in the rules of the game it is not supposed to enter your head, but it does when you can see them about to take aim. I though Harry Arter was much more controlled in his weighing up of the situation in the first half when a Palace player did battle with him for some 20 yards but, when Arter was behind him in the box, he refrained from making a lunge from behind which would have led to a penalty and probably a sending off.

I might be being over sensitive, but AFCB's record at defending set pieces is the worst in the league so it does not help when the team gives so many opportunities away for the free kick specialists to win the game. This was a game that AFCB can smile about, but they can't afford to do that against Arsenal - I' watching you Smudge!

Only 11 points off of a European spot!

Yeah, okay it might be getting carried away to think of European football, but sitting just in 15th place in the table you can see how close it is now between the mid-placed teams and our beloved AFCB. Surprisingly, a top 10 finish is not our of the question as AFCB positioned themselves five points behind Watford after this week's matches.
Looking up the table now.
A sizeable gap has started to open up underneath the Cherries now with most Villa fans acknowledging the inevitable now. The Cherries must look up the table though to what they could achieve. Eddie Howe says it is a question of trying to accumulate as many points as they can and as quickly as they can. But should the fixtures look anymore difficult than they really are in March and April? If AFCB can get some more wins against the mid-table sides, then safety could be accomplished sooner than expected. It is still early days, but I felt for the first time this week that the Cherries were making huge strides to becoming accustomed to the league that they are in.

There is just six points or two games between the Cherries and Southampton who are in seventh, so it really is a season when the Cherries could not only survive but thrive in the Premier League. It is interesting that as the club has started to move away from the bottom three there is slightly less attention being put on Eddie Howe and his team. One of the epic stories the media wants is a last day fight for survival, but hopefully the cameras will be not be concentrating on Old Trafford come 2 May. 

All Departments' podcast reviews the win at Crystal Palace. Listen in at the All Departments' website or scroll down Cherry Chimes' side panel to the All Departments' sound bar and click on it.

There are also some pictures of the goings on at Selhurst Park on Match Day Gallery now.