Friday, 31 October 2014

Olay! Olay! Olay! - Eunan O'Kane can push on now

Part of the pleasing aspect of the Capital One Cup win against WBA was certainly the performance of Eunan O'Kane. Having scored the first goal, he was a shoe-in for man of the match and I have no problem with that. It is important though that Eunan builds on his 90 minutes by pushing for a permanent place back in the team.
Eunan O'Kane opened his goal account with an assured finish against WBA.
Even with getting his opportunity in mid-week, there is no room for all of the midfielders to get into the team, and Eunan has been quite critical of himself this season in knowing that he can reach another level in his performances. His goal though on Tuesday night certainly meant a lot to him. It was his first of the season and when we saw him run though after Junior Stanislas' excellent build up play with Yann Kermorgant, you just could not see Eunan missing. If you watch the game again, West Brom were basically overloaded by Bournemouth on their right side with Fraser in close attendance and the running power of O'Kane was great too see with him getting up in support.

I thought Dan Gosling and Eunan O'Kane did exceptionally well in midfield and did not allow Mulumbo and Blanco much space and in possession AFCB's players pushed the ball around with plenty of purpose, looking for Rantie on the turn. While Arter and Surman appear to be Eddie's first choice at present, I expect that Eunan will be hoping to add to his game time and goal tally now. Perhaps he will be in the squad to face Brighton.
Eunan is running into form.
Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Cherries go into Brighton derby as favourites

AFCB keep surprising teams and they now come into the local match against Brighton as favourites on recent form. Fourth from the top of the Championship, the Cherries are in good shape as the Sky TV cameras come to town and while they might not be able to emulate the scoreline of last weekend they certainly won't be holding back.
Brighton players really need the points so I am expecting a very tricky match.
Meanwhile, it has not been the easiest of times for Sami Hyypia at Brighton who sit four places off the bottom as they come into this match. It is simply not where you would expect Brighton, one of last season's play-off teams to be. They have lost a few players though like Leonardo Ulloa, Andrea Orlandi, Thomaz Kuszczak and Will Buckley, but the new signings haven't had the impact that Hyypia would have wished for.

Brighton have become the draw specialists picking up six points from their last seven games. they aren't getting beaten that often, but the wins just aren't coming for them. What is worse is that they have been in winning positions against Rotherham and Cardiff and did not hold on. Their goal average is also down at 0.93 per game and they are struggle to hit the back of the net. Lewis Dunk is their highest goalscorer on four in the league and one in the League Cup. 

So what can we expect against the Cherries. Well Sami Hyypia has asked his team to show more character. They have been struggling to play two good halves in matches, but they have some good players. I do like the marauding play of Rohan Ince in midfield and Greer and Caldoron will always battle for everything at the back. Hyppia has brought in ex-Barnsley striker Chris O'Grady, while Kazenga Lua Lua and Craig Mackail-Smith have been more out that in the team. Sam Baldock has been relied on up front but just has not been scoring enough.

Meanwhile, AFCB come into the game knowing that a win could take them back to the top of the Championship after an impressive month of wins. The Cherries are going to take some stopping and I don't believe that the Seagulls will be able to fly out of Dean Court with any points.

Brighton Away Form:

AFCB Home Form:

Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Happy Hyypia? - I don't think so

Since Sami Hyypia has taken over at Brighton he has not been able to find the free scoring style that served them so well in the last few seasons when Gus Poyet and Oscar Garcia.were manager of the Seagulls. It is still early days though and Brighton & Hove Albion are not renowned for a club that parts with their manager on a regular basis, and I hope he turns things around after playing AFCB of course.

Sami has a brilliant football CV having won most things as a player, and at Bayer Leverkusen he showed that he could successfully coach a team that was not only a big player in the Bundesliga, but also a Champions League club. So why have things not taken off quickly at Brighton for him since joining in June? It's hard to pin-point for me as he still has some experienced players at the club. 
Team performances and the system employed with wing backs pressing forward have been questioned, but Hyypia sounds like he is coping with the worries of the fans. Their difficulty, like so many teams, is in giving away the first goal and a more settled side is something though that Hyypia probably needs. 

If Craig Mackail-Smith can show he is still the player he was before his long time out he has a goalscorer that can be one of the lead strikers in the Championship. He has just had a hamstring injury, but was on the bench for the Spurs game and got a few minutes. Kazenga Lua Lua has just finished his suspension, following his red card against Huddersfield and will be available for selection and also took part in the Tottenham match. Paddy McCourt also played mid-week who has been highlighted as a player that offers Brighton lots of potential going forwards.

Alan Mullery has been patient with the results and Hyypia's need for time. But Hyypia has said he may have to bring in more players in the January window which would make me worry about why more can't be got out of their current squad? Despite all his league problems though, Brighton have had a good run in the Capital One Cup and they have only had three league defeats in their last 10. Brentford, Ipswich and Middlesbrough inflicted those defeats who are all doing pretty well.  Brighton is not a club in crisis, but just a club that is getting too many draws and simply can't quite get a win. It has not quite clicked yet, but Hyypia will know that a south coast game against high-flying Bournemouth is a match to look forward too, not to hide from.

AFCB have to be at their very best to win this rival south coast match.

Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Yann needed the West Brom game

The comeback of Yann Kermorgant was not as magnificent as some of us might have expected. A striker can't score every game, although Callum Wilson is trying to disprove that at the moment. The match against WBA was crucial though for Yann who looked to me like he needed to get some running in his legs. He last 88 minutes and will have benefited from stretching out at Dean Court again, but I still expect Pitman and Wilson to continue their partnership at the start of the Brighton match. 
Yann is in contention for selection again.

What we perhaps did not see was quite as many shots from Yann as he can deliver when his game is really on song. I thought he held the ball up well and took the battle to the West Brom defenders which certainly helped Rantie. It is hard though to come back in such a match where you know that it is going to be a heavy physical contest from Yann's point of view against Dawson and McAuley.

I do hope that Yann is able to get some minutes against Brighton as he is perhaps the striker who is playing catch up a little with Pitman and Wilson. The sharpness only comes with playing and Yann is a great asset for the team when he is holding the ball up and I don't think we have another striker who does it as well. It's the all round game of Yann that marks him out as a special player for me and the goals are something that seem to come in bursts for him. I do wonder what the Birmingham score might have been if Yann had been on the pitch to feed off those lofted crosses that Francis was delivering so well for Pugh.

If the Cherries can get Yann firing a few more shots, I would expect Yann to start picking off some of those who have stolen a bit of a march for him of late in the goal stats.

Pleasingly, no extra time was required against WBA and Eddie Howe will have most of the squad to pick from for the Brighton match. The opposition have also had one less day to prepare for Saturday's game having lost narrowly to Spurs last night in the Capital One Cup.

Ritchie finally has the monkey off his back

Like all AFCB fans I was pleased to see Matt Ritchie get his first goal of the season at Birmingham. I still don't expect it will prevent Sky from showing endless replays of his free kick against Brighton last season ahead of this year's fixture at Dean Court. It's been quite a year for the Cherries' winger and he can now concentrate on just playing his game now that he has get off the mark for this season.
Is Matt going to come up with another special goal for the cameras?
None of the other team members celebrate a goal quite like Matt Ritchie. I am not sure if he knows what he is doing but he has such joy in netting that it is a hard task for anyone to catch up with him after he has scored. I can't say that he has missed lots of chances this campaign. Some of his spectacular long range shots simply have been kept out most of the time by some good keeping. But it is important that Matt has scored and feels that he has contributed to the team's performance.

I do believe the way that Simon Francis has been pushing up has meant that Matt does not always join in quite as many attacks as he might otherwise. It is often Matt that sends the pass through to start off Simon's run along the right wing and that can leave Matt back in midfield when the attack is going ahead at fast pace. Matt has been very involved in the corner taking though and with so many short corners being taken it is likely that he might up his score rate from getting some success in such set pieces. On free kick duty there is any number of players that AFCB can rely on though. If Yann Kermorgant comes back into the team he seems to get first option, while Pitman and Harte are also specialists when it comes to dead ball situations. 

Knowing Matt though, I think the other players will find it hard to keep him off the ball now. He has tasted success and a confident player likes to put the ball in the back of the net again and again, once he has broken his duck. I'd back Matt to be featuring on a few more Sky replays in the next few days. Look out Brighton!

Kop that! - Liverpool again for Cherries

Out of all the possible ties that the Cherries could have got, there was not a lot of talk pre-draw for the 5th round of the Capital One Cup with expectations of getting Liverpool at home again. It will be another fabulous occasions for Bournemouth fans and this time Eddie Howe's side can legitimately feel that they have a real chance of causing an upset against one of the country's top sides. 
Shall we make this a regular fixture?
It will of course be great for us to hear Brendan Rodgers again, who was so praiseworthy of the style of play and bravery of our Cherries when they took on Liverpool in the FA Cup last season. It will be another chance to see Steven Gerrard, Steven Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and of course we may see Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana and Super Mario (Balotelli). It is more than likely that the full first Liverpool team could be used in this game if the reds are hoping to land the silverware, but they have Man Utd at home the Sunday before and Arsenal at home on the following Sunday! Still, it is a great pre-Christmas present for AFCB fans and the ground should be packed for this one.
No Suarez this time but there will be plenty of other
top Liverpool players to see AFCB go up against. 
Liverpool have been a bit indifferent in terms of form this season but they are still in the top eight and only two points off fourth spot in the Premier League. The fact that they have been letting in a few goals with some problems at the back surely gives Eddie Howe's team a chance of a shock. All the cameras will be on Balotelli and the pressure will be all on Liverpool and I think it is helpful in some ways that Bournemouth have drawn Liverpool as they will have a bit of a familiar style for our team to be up against and should not be feared, but respected.

Welcome back Liverpool fans.
I don't think it will be long this morning before some of my friends are giving me a call to ask if I can get them a ticket. With more Bournemouth season ticket holders now than last season it is clear that less spare tickets will be available for this match and that may be a good thing considering that the club had a difficult time in finding an easy way to sell the extra tickets last time with such huge demand. Somehow I think these tickets will be like gold dust.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

There's magic in the air down at Dean Court

You can sense that AFCB have a special group of players at the club now. You don't just go and beat a class outfit like WBA a few days after amassing a tremendous goal haul against another Championship team, and reach the last eight of the Capital One Cup without causing a bit of a stir. The national media have been keen to get in on the act of trying to work out what is happening down on the south coast? They know that Eddie Howe has unearthed some gems and the worrying thing for other teams in the Championship is that this team is no longer just 11 excellent players, but any of the squad of players that Eddie cares to select. 
Steve Cook and Andrew Surman perhaps checking
out who else was going through last night.
Looking back at last night's game, none of the players on the pitch against the elite of WBA looked out of place and no quarter was given during the whole match. The cup tie was exactly that with much end-to-end action, but the best team won in what was a hard fought game. West Brom did have more shots (13), but only had three on target, whereas Bournemouth rattled WBA with eight shots and four on target. That may make the game seem tighter than it was, because AFCB held most of the possession - 53 per cent - and looked the more threatening to me.

The home crowd were terrific all evening and the "Allez, Allez, Oh __ AFCB!" song has gained a few more lines and swept round the ground with pleasing effect. I stopped at one point just to watch the faces of fans as they watched this intense game. Our fans are no longer looking worried when the ball is in our half, and when our wingers have the ball the crowd now expect something to happen. I can only imagine it must be great as an AFCB player to feel that enthusiasm on your back at the moment.

Eddie Howe is still the man in charge of what is happening though. Right from the work ethic of the players to asking the crowd to pick the team up whenever it is down, and even clapping the players off rather than want to take the applause himself. He'll enjoy the moment I am sure - just as I am still smiling while typing this up at 2am in the morning after the drive back! 

It's back to business this weekend and another hard match against Brighton with TV cameras looking on, but allow yourself a moment to look back on the past five games and think for a moment about all those 'Wins'. Things are changing around Dean Court and very much for the better. Now who do you want in the next round?

Give me some answers in the comment section below and we'll see what the most popular answer is.