Thursday, 23 November 2017

Can AFCB keep the winning run going?

Bournemouth travel to Swansea next to try and keep their impressive recent winning run going. While on paper it might seem like a good venue for AFCB to try and get another win on the road, they can't take Swansea lightly, as a defeat at the Liberty stadium would put Bournemouth back in shooting range for the bottom few clubs including Swansea.
AFCB must channel their energy as Swansea are scrapping for everything.
This is one of those six pointers I suppose or, more appropriately, one of the mini league games that you really don't want to lose. Swansea's form at home is retched, but they have to win these kind of games, having not won at home since beating Huddersfield 2-0 on 14 October. Even with Tammy Abrahams in their side, the big problem for Swansea is that they are not scoring. They have managed just four goals in front of their home supporters and have a goal difference of -8.
Will AFCB fans be celebrating another big away day?
Abraham and Ayew started in the Swans last game, but Wilfried Bony did come on after half time and could start this game. The front line they have seems reasonable, but where they might also struggle is in midfield with the likes of Sam Clucas still trying to find his form since his move from Hull City.
Winning the individual battles will be the message for Bournemouth players. Do that and you'll win the match. The winning run is important to keep going now and AFCB will have to get plenty of shots in on Fabianski as he does make saves. It took Burnley seven attempts on target to get a 2-0 win in Swansea's last match, and AFCB may find it hard to create that many chances away from home.

Swansea City Home Form

AFCB Away Form

Is Paul Clement as good as Eddie Howe at turning around form?

Football is all about winning and while Paul Clement was a hero last season, he knows in this game it doesn't count for much when you are now on the end of a winless cycle. He has been making it clear in his post-Burnley match press conference that he knows where the team has to improve but is it as simple a job to put it right?
Paul Clement at Dean Court last season.
The Swans will understand that the match against Bournemouth is a very big game for both teams. Paul Clement has not been getting performances form his players, they haven't been scoring highly with just seven goals in 12 games and they need to break their winless run. "I'd be stupid if I wasn't concerned," said Clement when interviewed after Swansea's most recent defeat.  "I'm concerned about the level of performance, I'm concerned about our position in the table, I'm concerned about the amount of goals we have scored, or haven't scored - these are all things that I have to work on."

But in a week that has seen the sacking of Tony Pulis from WBA, who are two points ahead of Swansea in the table, Clement knows he hasn't got long to put things right. Not enough managers are given time to turn the form around and Swansea does not sound like it is a happy camp at the moment. With Tammy Abrahams not training on Tuesday but nursing his back through the week so that he can play on Saturday, Swansea are patching up their on loan striker and hoping they can get some better luck in front of goal against Bournemouth.
Considering the game from Clement's view though, he has to be worried that AFCB have  only conceded once in their last three Premier League games and that goal was scored by Eden Hazard of Chelsea. In other words, it's going to need something special to score a few goals against the Cherries at the moment. Clement will point towards the early part of the game when AFCB entertained Huddersfield. There were good opportunities for van La Parra and Scott Malone in particular, yet even the form of Asmir Begovic will be something that Swansea also have to get past.

Eddie Howe has been getting a tune out of his players again. It is Paul Clement that will be hoping that by working hard he can get more out of his players now. The difference might be that AFCB pulls together when times are hard, but is everyone at Swansea behind Paul Clement?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Fraser would be a good addition to start against Swansea

While Jordan Ibe hobbled off in the first half against Huddersfield Town last weekend, my immediate thoughts turned not to Adam Smith who filled in as the wideman, but to another winger who was prepared to play in the U23s game last week just to get some match time. Ryan Fraser has been too much of a spectator perhaps this season and while he didn't get on the field against Huddersfield, he is probably set for a return at the Liberty stadium.
Ryan will be hoping t get a run of games now with Ibe likely to be out for a game or two.
Fraser has had some match time in Scotland's internationals, but I sense he has been wanting to get back into the Bournemouth team and luckily for him a spot might now just be available again. Even if Ibe had not taken a knock, I suspect that Fraser would have been putting the manager under a lot of pressure in training to pick him ahead of Ibe for this next match. Jordan was not having one of his best games against Huddersfield, and he seems to ave lost some of the pleasing passes that brought him assists earlier on in the season.

Fraser also has to improve his final ball on occasions, but the speed at which he runs gives Bournemouth more attacking endeavour in my opinion. Like Jordan, Ryan is yet to open his account in front of goal this season, but I put much of that down to him playing in many of the early games when Bournemouth were not on fire in general. That might be about to change and the wee man may be able to show what a match winner he can be.

Looking at the porosity of the Swansea defence, it is a good game for Fraser to come back in and his tight dribbling and running power could well be a way of opening up the Swan's defence.

Are Bournemouth better with 10-men?

I was a bit worried about the second half with Huddersfield, after seeing Simon Francis sent off. It was not that I didn't think Bournemouth could manage the game well enough to see it out, but it was possible that they could have come out being overly defensive and I was half expecting one of the strikers to be taken off for another central midfielder, such as Gosling from the 46th minute.
AFCB's ambition stayed teh same even when Simon Francis was sent off.
Pleasingly, Eddie Howe kept King on and just put him in midfield with Adam Smith able to play deeper having already come on for Jordan Ibe. The positive way that Bournemouth approached the second half is what made the score more comfortable in the end. It took Arter until the 70th minute to get that third goal, and before that the second half was a bit of a containment job on Huddersfield, but it was well organised and it did still offer Bournemouth chances on the break.

Begovic did not have much to do in the second half and it shows how much work the team does in training with 10-men against 11. It is not a big deal for this team to have a man sent off, and to score another two goals with the 10 men just underlined how it didn't get to the players that the Francis sending off was going to make a difference.

I am sure Eddie Howe would not like his side to play with 10-men every week. It takes more out of the players and the suspensions don't really help. So while AFCB have a good system for dealing with red cards, they probably don't want to face that regularly. It does suit AFCB though to have teams come on to them when they have a cushion of a few goals. The chips over the top from Arter were well received by King and Wilson when they ran on to forward passes, and when these two strikers have the ability to beat their man it creates loads of space in behind a side that has been pushing up.

The possession did swing very much towards Huddersfield in the second half, but the Terriers only created three shots on target all match. That is testament to the successful way that Bournemouth nullified the threat in that second half with their 10-men.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Howe still seeks full potential from his side

Eddie Howe made some interesting comments after the Huddersfield win about the team not actually having played well, and still looking forward to seeing the full potential of the side. The first half an hour was certainly a less than polished performance by AFCB, but we have to give Huddersfield some credit for the way they stared the match.
Eddie Howe has masterminded an improvement in AFCB's performances,
but he's insistent that the side has not reached it's full potential yet.
Bournemouth were second to most balls, and they found it really hard to pick up the tempo at first in the Huddersfield game. It took some crunch tackles to get some life into the passing and energy running through the team. Eddie was right in that the goals came at good times, but the first goal was particularly important considering how far off the pace Bournemouth were up to that point. The Cherries have had slow starts in their last two games, and I think there is a sense that they are not playing well for 90 minutes yet and there is more to come.

The line up of the team is becoming more settled which I am very pleased about. While Simon Francis will miss the next game for his disciplinary record, Adam Smith will fill in and is likely to carry more of a threat going forward in my view than Francis. There is more possibilities when Tyrone Mings returns to fitness, but he'll have his work cut out to oust AkΓ© or Steve Cook in the centre of defence.

Where there may be some more change is if Junior Stanislas becomes available again and if Ryan Fraser can force his way back into contention. I've not seen Ibe carry on his early season form and if his knee injury is worrying him we could see a change there. The big puzzle though is how to get the best out of Defoe and possible Afobe. If Howe can make them into super subs, then Bournemouth will be a team that doesn't give any opponent a rest.

I don't want AFCB to be over reliant on King and Wilson. It is great that Eddie can pick them together again, but we know that the partnership has not always seen that many games and AFCB need to get more aspects of the team functioning to the level we are currently seeing from the two front men.

Arter picked his spot well

The sheer jubilation that Harry Arter felt in his goal against Huddersfield was surely a release after his painful World Cup qualifier disappointment with the Republic of Ireland. He may not have been at his best against Huddersfield, but when his moment came to score he was like a player that had everything to prove in taking his anger out in the right way, dispossessing Scott Malone in front of the b,ox and thinking calmly to create space and put his shot away in such style.

Arter's finish against Huddersfield was classy.
Having seen Harry play for a number of years it is no surprise that he can play like this when he has a clear vision of what he wants to do. The season has not been great for Harry so far, but the goal against Huddersfield could certainly be a turning point for him. It seems that Harry thrives on being knocked down and he has had more knocks than anyone else I think in Eddie's squad.

He deserves to enjoy his Premier League status and get appreciation back from the fans. The rise of Lewis Cook has in some ways taken a bit of that gloss away from Harry to my mind, and yet the way he celebrated his goal in front of the north stand restored things at least in Harry's mind that he was AFC Bournemouth and has never gone away - he's right here and wanting to do his best for the team.

I know we are going to see some of our old favourites slowly replaced in the starting 11 and while it is great that there is now more competition, but I just want to enjoy the moments when players like Arter relish their goals. These players should mean so much to us all as they have put the club where it is now and they have not lost any of their desire to be part of the action. Arter did not only pick his spot well in making his finish clinical, he picked his spot of where to celebrate with the fans and gave it all he had with the fist pump. Let's see some more of that Harry! 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Yellow cards mount up for AFCB

The disciplinary record for the Cherries took a big hit with Lee Probert having the whistle and cards in his hands on Starurday. He had been fairly lenient in the match earlier this year, when Bournemouth played Stoke City, in only giving Harry Arter a yellow card, but he was sure that AFCB were the main offenders in the match with Huddersfield and he could have even handed out more punishment at times.
Simon Francis has the worst disciplinary record of any Bournemouth player in 2017.
Now the Cherries have picked up a further five yellow cards and one which culminated in a second yellow and consequent red card for Simon Francis. Before the Huddersfield match Bournemouth were on 21 cards for the season so it's about a 25 per cent rise in the yellow card offences from just one game and yet I don't believe it was an overly fired up game. Huddersfield could have expected Charlie Daniels to see a card and AFCB certainly might have expected more than the two yellow cards that Huddersfield were awarded.

The pressure might be on a few Bournemouth players now to walk the tightrope in terms of their discipline in the next few games. Steve Cook is now on four yellow cards along with Adam Smith and it is in defence, where AFCB may find problems with Francis already suspended. Harry Arter is also climbing up the board with three cards, but Marc Pugh is less of a worry on two having also picked up a card in the Huddersfield match.

Francis now has an unwanted record of being the equal highest Premier League player to see red in 2017 with only Watford's Miguel Britos keeping him company on the naughty step. Francis uses his strength and power at times but is not always the quickest which I think lands him in trouble, because he is so strong. The second challenge that got him sent off was certainly late though and I wonder if Francis is losing some of his reaction time or his pace? As captain though, it is not great for Francis to be top of the chart for misdemeanours and it's something that he has to put right as the season goes on.