Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Has Steve Cook put in a request for the number 9 shirt yet?

When it comes to defenders scoring goals it is usual for big centre-backs to get the odd headed goal or a tap in from time to time, but just how good is Steve Cook in and around the box. His finish against Liverpool for AFCB's third goal was not only exemplary for the precise way he volleyed it home, but the original pull down and take, and then that turn was magnificent. To control the ball so well when it was behind him and passing him at speed was sensational - he shouldn't have been able to bring it under control.
Is Steve Cook getting bored of his number three shirt?
We have seen many splendid goals from Steve Cook over the years. We probably remember the bicycle kick against Ipswich the most, and there was also that fabulous hit against Fulham in the Championship as well. But this latest goal was better in my opinion than the others and that is saying something. By the time Cook retires he is going to have a fantastic collection of videos and many a striker will be quite envious of some of his goals.

What I like about Steve is that he is not afraid to have a go. The goal against Liverpool came as he wanted to contribute and to do something positive after the match against Arsenal. He gambled and it came off. But more than that he even made the winning goal as well with his decision to find space and hit a shot with his weaker foot. He'll probably get a lot of stick about his attempts to try and snatch the man of the match performance away from Ryan Fraser, but I think this will also rank as Steve Cook's most favourite game when the season comes to an end.

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The sheer thrill of scoring is always celebrated in fine style by Steve and on Sunday you could tell what it meant to him when he roared his emotions of joy out. He also orchestrated the crowd just before the final goal for his long throws and he knows that the noise at Dean Court has a massive hand in building pressure on the opposition. I don't know about you but my voice is only just coming back!

A bonkers game - but that's how we like it

Kris Temple on BBC Radio Solent said it all when he said to Eddie Howe,"that was bonkers, wasn't it?" The Premier League has had some crazy games in the last couple of weeks and the match against Liverpool was just as mad as the Swansea v Crystal Palace game the other week. Yet, it was a very different kind of game as Liverpool are up there fighting for the title and the Cherries just perhaps don't know how good they really are.

Just bonkers!
Liverpool will be licking their wounds after losing a 0-2 lead and a 1-3 lead. These are things that you just can't do if your team is to challenge at the top of the table and yet AFCB at home are difficult opposition. Jurgen Klopp himself knows the Bournemouth story well and he will not have wanted to add to the mystic around this incredible club that Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall are building, but even he had to smile at the way the Cherries did not know when they were beaten.
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Liverpool were fantastic in the first half and fully deserved to be a couple of goals to the good if not more. When Emre Chan also smashed in Liverpool's third you would not have seen anyway back for the Cherries. Yet, the last 25 minutes were electric. They are the moments that will live with AFCB fans for a long, long time. It was Everton 3-3 again, yet this time there was time for a winner and when the momentum started to turn I don't think there was much Liverpool could do to stem the flow. AFCB fans can be intimidating at Dean Court when they get fully behind their side, and that pressure put to the players in a positive way certainly helped them and pushed them on.

Jurgen Klopp may say that Liverpool let AFCB in and that Eddie Howe's side took the opportunity, but he also knows that AFCB are a side who have very much built a togetherness that is familiar to Liverpool's great European nights at Anfield. It is a powerful place Dean Court, because special things have happened there are the players in the AFCB side know they have done great things there. What seems impossible is as we know very possible, but just hasn't been done yet. Liverpool was one of those 'haven't done yet' jobs, but it's now another one that Eddie Howe can now tick off. 

The defeats in the cups and in the previous Premier League meetings with Liverpool made this win all the more special and of course the way it unfolded, it could only be a bonkers way for AFCB to finally do it.

Monday, 5 December 2016

It's Millwall away for the Cherries in the cup

AFCB can be fairly pleased with their FA Cup Third Round draw away at Millwall. While the Lions have a good record at home this season and are currently ninth in League Two there were much more dangerous sides that they could have pulled out of the hat.

AFCb have had some good recent tussles with Millwall and it will be good to go back to The Den. Millwall beat Braintree Town 5-2 in the last round, which was their biggest win of the season so far.

The game will be played between 6-9 January 2017.

Ryan Fraser - simply a game changer

Ryan Fraser made his fifth appearance in the Premier League on Sunday against Liverpool but I doubt he quite knew what kind of game he was about to produce. While every player who comes on hopes to make a difference it is another thing to actually do it. Right from the start Ryan had a desire to get past his defender and to get in the box as often as he could and it may not have been advanced thinking or dramatic skill, but it was effective.
Ryan Fraser was sensational against Liverpool - now he has to keep that level up.
The directness of Ryan's play is what sometimes startles defences. He puts his head down and goes for the opposition and that in itself may not hurt teams, but he also picks his head up and finds players with his passing. AFCB fans love the all action, rampaging style of Ryan as he does not find it difficult to sip past several players and yet he has been adding a much wiser head to his decision-making and it's something that I hope rubs off on Jordan Ibe.

Ryan spoke in an interview on BBC Solent after the Liverpool match that he had been worried of not beating his man and was finding it hard to take his potential on to better things during a game, but I can't see that he put a foot wrong against Liverpool. He was rightly given the man of the match award and he will surely be given the right wing shirt while Junior Stanislas recovers from injury. But I wonder what Ryan can do given a spell of four or five games? Has Eddie Howe stumbled upon another match winner for AFCB that just needs a few games to establish himself?
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Whatever the immediate thoughts might be of Eddie Howe, he has to see that Ryan Fraser had a great understanding with Callum Wilson, and that has to be good for the side. Afobe also seemed more ready to be trying to get on the end of balls when the pace of Ryan was nearby.

Fraser's stampede clips Klopp's title charge 4-3

Match Report
AFCB 4 v 3 Liverpool
4 December 2016
Attendance: 11,183
Liverpool fans unfurl their flags.
AFCB are not supposed to go and beat title contenders are they? Liverpool were unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League games. Well, strike that. While AFCB had not beaten Liverpool in nine attempts since 1927, there had to be a first time and this was a sensational second half comeback, after Liverpool had dominated the first half and had gone into the beak 0-2 up. Mané and Origi had put Liverpool in command after two balls over the top had caught Artur Boruc out, but the game started to change when Ryan Fraser came on for an injured Junior Stanislas on 55 minutes. He won a penalty with his pace running at James Milner and Callum Wilson cut the deficit to 1-2. Although Liverpool came racing back with a sublime top corner finish from Emre Can, nobody would have expected AFCB to play with such attacking flare that they would threaten to take all three points. But once Ryan Fraser scored his first ever Premier League goal and Steve Cook turned sharply, before hitting his venomous strike, the Cherries were all level at 3-3 and in added time a further right footed shot from Steve Cook had Karius spilling the ball like a hot potato and Nathan Aké was on hand to scramble the ball home for an amazing Bournemouth winner!
Francis and Henderson in the middle.
A minute's silence for the Chapecoense team.
Brad Smith and Adam Federici were the unlucky players to be dropped form AFCB's starting line up, but that allowed Jack Wilshere and Artur Boruc to return to the side. What fans did not expect was to see Adam Smith go to left back. Stanislas had lined up on the left wing and Josh King on the right for AFCB. AFCB had relaid a new pitch and we had new dugouts to admire as well.
The teams had a fabulous new pitch to play on.
Liverpool also made a couple of changes with Lucas and Origi making starts instead of Matip and Coutinho.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

The conditions looked great with a brand new pitch and afternoon sun but Mané had to shield his eyes from the sunlight as an early ball flew in his direction on the half way line. Firmino saw his shot blocked by Steve Cook, but Liverpool had AFCB stretched from the start. Aké was getting his tackles in, but Milner was steaming down the left wing and easily getting a cross in that Steve Cook put his head to. Smith, Gosling and Wilshere were chasing shirts and not getting near to the Liverpool players and when Arter caught up with Emre Can all he could do was foul him.

Clyne then played a curled ball in from the right that Origi looked certain to score from, but the ball sped off his foot and wide of AFCB's goal from six yards! What followed was a series of four corners for the Merseysiders, from the right side, who laid siege to Artur Boruc's goal. Just to ensure there was not something wrong with the other side of the pitch they tried one from the left side too. 

Even when King won a free kick from Milner, the ball came straight back with Firmino having a blocked shot. Possession was already at 65 per cent for the fluorescent yellow shirts and the breakthrough came from a hopefully lofted ball from Emre Can over the top for Mané to run on to in a sprint with Aké, while Boruc was slow to come out. Mané stabbed the ball past Boruc and it was 0-1 on 20 minutes.


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Just as it couldn't get much worst, Harry Arter lost the ball and Mané nipped in to take the ball before Henderson and Can played in Origi down the right. Smith was unable to get back and Boruc came racing out of his goal. While Origi rounded Boruc it seemed too difficult an angle for him to score, but he bent his shot and found the bottom corner of the goal with Steve Cook unable to get in the ball's way. AFCB were 0-2 down and there was just 23 minutes gone. I was fearing the worst.

The home crowd were not exactly happy about the way the Cherries were playing and they weren't slow in letting the players know. Wilson almost found a way round Clyne, but slipped just when he might have had a sight of goal.

Even when Wilshere won a corner for the Cherries and Natahn Aké seemed to have had his legs taken by Firmino from under him there was no resulting penalty. From our angle it looked a pen all day long. Although Josh King saw an effort scrambled away for a corner, AFCB were not finding any way into this game. But a 0-2 deficit at half time seemed a reasonable escape, as it could have been more if Liverpool had found more of a cutting-edge.
All over?
The players troop off at half time.
Second half
We all hoped that Eddie would do something about Adam Smith at half time as he was being ripped apart at left back, and sure enough there was a change. Ibe came on for Josh King who had looked a bit flat, while Nathan Aké moved over to left back and Smith went to right back, leaving Francis and Cook as centre backs. Straight away the side looked more balanced and Jordan Ibe was holding off players well, which started to get AFCB into the game.

AFCB fans had started to get fed up of referee Robert Madley who had not played advantage at times, while now booking Simon Francis for up ending Milner. There was a big cheer though when Henderson was yellow carded for fouling Junior Stanislas. The bad news though was that Stanislas could not continue with his injured ankle. Ryan Francis was hurried on and took his place.

It was a game changing substitution. Within minutes Fraser was running at James Milner in Liverpool's box and the wee man was chopped down and won a penalty. It was an easy decision for Madley to give. Wilson stepped up and slotted home to the keeper's right. Klopp was given a talking to by the referee, but on we went with just a bit more hope. Boruc was soon called into action to smother the ball at the feet of Origi.

AFCB were trying to feed Fraser the ball whenever they could now. Yet, Liverpool were not done and with Firmino speeding down the right he pulled a ball back for Emre Can on the edge of the box and his first time shot rifled the ball into the top right corner, past Artur Boruc with a flash - 1-3.

That was that then. Lucas ran back for the restart clenching his fists as if it was all over - points in the bag. What unfolded next was probably AFCB's best 30 minutes of any game it has had in the Premier League. 

It was hardly the most inspiring of efforts at first from Harry Arter as he ballooned shot well over the bar. But when Lallana had taken to the field to replace Mané, there was a fire that suddenly roused the AFCB players. Callum Wilson finally started to run at defenders and found Ryan Fraser just inside the box where he blazed a powerful shot that Karius did well to tip over.

Liverpool also came close though when Milner won a corner against Francis and the corner kick was almost taken over the goal line by Boruc as he stepped backwards! The thickness of the ball's skin was just about all that saved AFCB from going 1-4 down.

Gosling was then replaced by Benike Afobe to add a further striker for Liverpool to have to worry about. The impact was immediate with Wilson driven wide, but still able to spot Afobe rushing in. While Benik's touch bounced the ball away from him it fell kindly to Ryan Fraser on the 18 yard line. A quick step inside the defender and the Scottish winger had scored his first goal in the Premier League, beating Karius with power 2-3. AFCB were back in this and the home crowd knew it with 16 minutes to go.

The noise suddenly ramped up several notches. AFCB fans were giving their team every bit of belief they had. They did not have to wait among for another goal. Lovren fouled the ever lively Ryan Fraser and Fraser sped down the right to deliver a cross a bit behind Steve Cook. Still, Steve put in a swift turn brought the ball down and this incredible centre back smashed his volley into the goal to make it 3-3 - unbelievable (it was like watching Brazil!). It was redemption for Steve Cook after his mistake at Arsenal the previous week. He was down on his knees sliding at the Family stand with the rest of his team-mates quick to mob him. 

The excitement was hardly subsiding. This was now anyone's game and Wilson put Afobe in one on one against Karius only for the keeper to pull off a great save as the ball flew over the bar from Afobe's shot.

Liverpool came back into it now, pushing AFCB back. The Cherries were happy to use Fraser's pace on the break, but referee Madley was not playing the advantage when he did get free. Emre Can at least was carded. With 90 minutes approaching a corner towards Afobe was punched clear by Karius, but the ball was being sucked towards the Liverpool end.

With five minutes of added time to go, it just felt like there was a final line to be written. Who could be a hero? Origi took a shot on the volley from a corner, but it sailed well over. We were back down the Liverpool goal and Steve Cook wound up his long throw.

At first Liverpool coped with it but a second attempt was to follow with Cookie asking the crowd to raise the noise level. Little did we know that Ibe would get the ball back to Cook who began to wonder nearer the goal and the 18 yard box, and on his weaker right foot, he took aim and fired in a shot that bounced just before the keeper. Karius fumbled it and Aké was quick to react. At first he only nudged the ball away from the keeper, but his second touch scrambled the ball over the line 4-3. AFCB had done it. The ground erupted in jubilant AFCB fans who all chanted and praised the team for what had been a tremendous comeback.
Did that really just happen?
Afobe and Clyne.
Boruc is pleased with the result.
Liverpool fans look bewildered - how did you lose that?
Summary
If football was a recipe that had great ingredients and was cooked up to a fabulous finish every game it would be something like this. You can't know sometimes how something is going to turn out. It may start off horrible and nothing falls in to place at first, but sometimes you can rescue things and Eddie Howe started to put some corrective forces into the game at half time and by the time Ryan Fraser had energised the right wing of the team, AFCB just went from strength to strength. It was a magnificent turnaround and yet there was a sense that the Cherries might just do something special when up against a big team like Liverpool if they could get a bit of wind behind them. Once that momentum started, it was too much for Liverpool to handle and the points were swept away from the title contenders by a side that never gave up hope despite being battered in the first half. AFCB truly grew up in this game - the rest of the Premier League may start to fear what Eddie Howe's side is capable of now. This was proof that AFCB are a good Premier League side, but some of us already knew that.

Simon Fraser thanks the North stand.
The staff greet the players.
Nathan Aké makes it two goals in three games for himself.


AFCB
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Aké, Smith, Arter, Gosling (Afobe 75), King (Ibe 45), Wilshere,
Stanislas (Fraser 55), Wilson

AFCB Subs
Federici, Mings, Pugh, Afobe, Smith, Fraser, Ibe

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 5, Francis 6, Cook 9, Aké 9, Smith 6, Arter 6, Gosling 5 (Afobe 6),
King 6 (Ibe 6), Wilshere 7, Stanislas 6 (Fraser 10), Wilson 7

Liverpool
Karius, Clyne, Lucas, Lovren, Milner, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can, Mané (Lallana 69), Origi, Firmino

Liverpool Subs
Mignolet, Klavan, Moreno, Lallana, Ejaria, Woodburn, Alexander-Arnold

Referee Watch: Robert Madley - 5/10 he had difficulty in playing the advantage and it took him to late in the second half to start evening up some free kick decisions against Liverpool.


FA Cup draw tonight on BBC 2 7.10pm
AFCB Ball no 1
Saints Ball no 35
Eastleigh Ball no 60

Sunday, 4 December 2016

How can AFCB upset Liverpool?

Tackling Jurgen's Klopp's team has been tricky for many sides this season. But away from home, the Liverpool posse have dropped a few points. Liverpool have had the whip hand over AFCB in recent meetings and yet I feel this game may just see a different outcome, despite the confident start that Liverpool have made to this season.
Liverpool's visit last season to Dean Court with Jordan Ibe in their line up.

Why do I say that? Well AFCB at home have been a match for Spurs and Everton. They may have been well beaten by the Manchester sides, but Dean Court has not been an easy place for teams to come to. I also expect Artur Boruc to be back as well as Charlie Daniels. The side has to seem stronger in the dressing room when you are looking around and you see the players that have done so well returning to the starting 11. 

The Liverpool side is full of great players, even without Philippe Coutinho, and with Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino likely to be in their starting line up, it will be a stiff examination of AFCB's back four. But it is a midfield that AFCB can get out without Coutinho. Dan Gosling and Harry Arter will love to in the middle of a big game like this and they have Jack Wilshere as well to add a bit of intrigue into AFCB's own attacks. Everyone talks about how good Liverpool are coming forward, but know one really knows how string they are at the back. 

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Broom Hill Garden Buildings

Even Sunderland made Liverpool look mediocre in the first half of their match up at the Stadium of Light. If AFCB can bully Henderson and Wijnaldum in the middle of the park they will have a chance, but they have to win that battle, because we know if the ball gets to Liverpool's forwards they will stick away one or two chances.

Probable AFCB team
Boruc (GK), A Smith (RD), Francis (CD), S Cook (CD), Daniels (LD), Stanislas (RM), Arter (CM) Gosling (CM), King (LM), Wilshere (FW), C Wilson (FW)

Subs: Federici (GK), Mings (CD) B Smith (LD), Aké (CD), Pugh(LM), Fraser (RM), Afobe (FW)


Liverpool Away Form

DWWWD

AFCB Home Form
WWWDL


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Points on the board - there has to be a target for the end of the year

A good effort but no points.
AFCB are threatening to do something great this season, but there is always the fear that the points could slow down at some point and the prospect of being near the bottom three come the new year is something that the club will want to avoid. The points situation at the moment is better than last season, but this is when the Cherries got into fourth gear and had back to back wins against Chelsea and Man Utd, can the Cherries pick their season up though by beating Liverpool and perhaps Leicester in a couple of games time?

The challenge of winning points in the early December games is perhaps not as impossible as what AFCB were faced with last season. The attitude of the players is crucial now. They have a mad run of games that will decide where they will be come the New Year and the target must be to improve on last season, so that would mean a higher points tally than 19 come Christmas. Just nudging past the point a game ratio is still going to leave AFCB perilously close to the bottom third of the league and now is the time when they need some acceleration.

I'm not sure what it is about December that usually kicks the boys on, but this season will be as important as any other to accumulate wins before the New year. While some teams like Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Ham are faltering to get regular points, they will at some point win a game and that will put the Cherries under greater pressure. Coaches talk about momentum and building on wins, but it has been stop start for AFCB and while the home form is not so bad, the Burnley and Swansea away games will be pivotal in December.
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IF AFCB can add something like eight points to their current total by the New year then they will be in a reasonable position to defend their Premier League status as the January window opens.   
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