Friday, 27 November 2015

The Cherries have to turn good performances into wins

AFCB like all the other teams in the Premier League have 19 games at home and out of the six games already played of those the return of one win and two draws is something that Eddie Howe will be keen to improve upon. It doesn't matter whether it is Everton, Man Utd or Aston Villa on the other side of the pitch there has to come a time when the wins at Dean Court start to help the team to push back up the table. Having had a good result away against Swansea, it is vital that the team now follows that up.
AFCB aren't just looking for a performance, they need points now.
So far AFCB have only managed to get points in consecutive games when they played West Ham and Leicester City, so just to get another result would be a step in the right direction. The home form has not been short on performance levels but the goals have been hard to come by with only five so far and two of those were against Sunderland. The Cherries have looked positive though in all but one of their home matches when they really looked out of sorts against Spurs. The individual mistakes have hopefully dried up, but Eddie Howe knows that he has had games at Dean Court when the team should have come away with more than a point.

Picking up a point or more though against a team like Everton is no simple task. The fact that Everton will try and win the game though could be a help to the Cherries and it should be a much more toe-to-toe encounter than last time out against Newcastle. It will be a chess game though as Everton have the players to exploit the Cherries if they do over commit men forward.

There is also the mental aspect of dealing with the fact that the Cherries could make a great start but defending a lead at home has been a weakness. AFCB were ahead against Leicester Utd, Watford and Spurs, but only got two points from those games. Even more difficult to banish will be the thought of being 0-2 up against Swansea only last weekend and yet not taking all three points. Still, it is a lead that Howe will be trying to get in the first half. It is hard to know what such a success would do for the team, but there is plenty of pointers towards thinking that another home win would change opinions of what AFCB are capable of this season. 

Transfer news and gossip Finally, it is good to see Matt Butcher has a new contract with AFCB. I also see the tabloids are expecting AFCB to make a £6m bid for Crystal Palace Dwight Gayle in January that follows rumours of a similar fee for Norwich's Lewis Grabban quoted yesterday. Those hoping for Bradley Wright-Phillips making an appearance at Dean Court though appear wide of the mark, although I expect more links with MLS players to AFCB.

Everton are riding high

There was a time last season when Roberto Martinez was under real pressure at Everton. He is a manager that has strong ideas on how his team should okay and is now getting the very best out of them. It is almost unbelievable that the toffees ever wondered if Roberto Martinez was the right appointment when he arrived from Wigan Athletic. He has lasted the course and he now has some young players under his guidance that are really amongst the best in the Premier league.
Everton are flying high, but the Cherries will try and pull them down a peg or two.
At home Everton have been irresistible. The 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa sets them up nicely for the south coast meeting with AFC Bournemouth side that have been humbled in recent weeks by some of the heavyweights of the division. Kone, Lukaku and Bartley are just the start of the problems for the Cherries. The performances of Funes Muri on the right and the marauding qualities of John Stone, playing out from the back are something that Bournemouth's players would do well to emulate in time. They also have Scotsman Steven Naismith to come on if they are struggling to open teams up.

For all Everton's strength though they have been prone to falling short of maximum points away from home and AFCB have to make it as difficult as they can for the toffees. That will mean trying to wrestle possession away from them at every opportunity. Everton will be one of the teams that will come and play at Dean Court and it is up to the Cherries to raise their game for the challenge.

Everton have scored in their last three away games and they have already kept clean sheets in away games at Spurs, Swansea and Southampton. It is a big ask for the Cherries to get something from this game, but I really hope that both Dan Gosling and Eunan O'Kane are involved as their determination to do well in such a fixture could yet help provide an unlikely result.

Everton Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Possible AFCB team
Cherries team: (4-5-1) Federici (GK), Francis (RD), Cook (CD), Distin (CD), Daniels (LD), Ritchie (RM), Arter (CM), Gosling (CM), Surman (CM), Stanislas (LM), King (FW)

Bench: (GK) Boroc, Bennett (LD), Cargill (CD), O’Kane (CM), Pugh, (FW), Kermorgant, (FW), Murray (FW)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Cherries are looking more comfortable

Eddie Howe has clearly been working extremely hard with his players during the international break and the way that his team went about the Swansea match was a credit to the town. I can see why he said he was very proud to be the manger after such a display as the players carried the fight to the Welsh team for the whole game and they have found a way to get points once again.

I was not so enthused about the performance against Newcastle as there was no end product from the Cherries. In this game at the Liberty stadium though, I would have been just as praiseworthy even if the Cherries had lost 3-2. It was not just the fact that they earned a point but that they looked a threat for the whole match. There was no nervousness, but a real game plan to get at Swansea, press them high and not give them any time on the ball. It was impressive and the work rate was tremendous.
AFCB need to find some words that inspire them on to some wins now.
AFCB looked by far the better side and there is real encouragement in the performance not only of individuals but of the team's play in general. It has taken a while to rediscover how best to make up for the loss of Wilson, but the team seem to be enjoying itself and it certainly brought a smile to my face. The aim now must be to collect points and while the games coming up are perhaps more difficult there is part of me that has more confidence that the Cherries can start to take points off of teams who they may not have expected to do so at the start of the season. Role on the next game. It is time to test this new found confidence against a very in form team in a home game.

King is learning fast now

I am so glad that the fans have not got on Josh King's case but have allowed him to grow into his task. He has massive shoes to fill and that may have seemed daunting at first to him. He had not been scoring goals, which is not beneficial to any striker and the pressure on him was growing. Now I hope he feels a release and with Junior Stanislas also enjoying his spell in the team there is an evident excitement about how good these players could become, as they are already starting to soak up all the advice and tactics that Eddie Howe and his coaching staff are implying to them.

The international break really gave Josh King a chance to hone his game further as he was not involved with the Norway squad. It was a good time for Josh to work on his game and we have seen the results. Eddie was quick to praise him after the Newcastle game and he has continued to build his confidence which finally resulted in his first Premier League goal against Swansea. What was even more pleasing is that I could see elements of the striker that played for Blackburn and ripped through Stoke's defence last spring. Josh almost scored a replica goal to one of those FA Cup strikes, but for a fine save by Fabianski in the first half at Swansea, when he ran with the ball for a good half of the pitch before holding off defenders and releasing his shot.

I always saw Josh as a good lad who tries hard but perhaps did not extend himself fully. I wanted to see a bit more of a nasty or stronger character to his game when he shrugs off defenders and has the ambition to go on and score. It is there in his game, but we have not really seen too much of it. Eddie Howe seems to be flushing it out now and that selfish striker confidence is starting to come through as I hoped it might. The aim will be to see if he can score a brace or a hat-trick in forthcoming games or to do a Vardy and just keep finding the net. The important point is that he off the mark and can now look to get on a run of goals.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

There's more positivity now about the Cherries

Stuff the Premier League table! It does not look that fantastic at the moment unless you are a Leicester fan. But let's forget about the placings and concentrate on how the Cherries are playing. There is a difference if your team is in the bottom three and not playing well, and a team that has found themselves in that position and yet is playing like a mid-table side. It has taken longer than us fans might have wanted for the Cherries to find their feet at this level, but the signs are that the team can do well in the Premier League now and games are being looked forward to again rather than wondering if the team is going to be able to compete.
AFCB need to start getting points out of tight games.
It may not seem like a big step that has been taken as the Cherries are still only on nine points. Still the confidence that the players will have taken from the matches against Newcastle and Swansea stand them in good stead now. Those two teams might not have an abundance of points either, but they both found AFCB's game very difficult to handle and in the long run they will know that such teams are likely to be picking up points and putting pressure on them as the season progresses. It is surprising how much players subconsciously are affected by past games and that can have a positive or negative influence on upcoming matches. It is not just about the points at this stage.

Still AFCB need to start getting points. Eddie Howe knows that and while the big named teams are lining themselves up for getting in the top four, it is going to be hard to gather points off of some of these sides. Yet the confidence has gradually been building up and there has to be a sense that a good win is just around the corner now. Those players that have come into the side have started to find an understanding and when other players come back there is going to be a bigger pool of players to pick from. AFCB need to take this positivity now into the next few games, starting with Everton.

Early goals set a pattern even if they don't guarantee wins

There has been much focus on trying to get quick leads in games as this season has progressed. The team that scores first tends to go on to win games in more than most games and when your team goes 2-0 up it is safe to say that you can hope for a good day. It did not quite workout like that at Swansea, but it was still vital to get the lead and it should not stop Eddie Howe's team from continuing to take the game to teams.
Fast starts are good but the team must hold on better.
There is a different feeling though to games when, as we saw against Newcastle, you play a team off the park and yet can't score, and ones where you are two goals to the good and fully in control only to find the scores pegged back. For me the Swansea match showed that the Cherries were much closer to winning the game. I never felt that they would lose the match even with the scores being level at half time. The early goals had set a pattern. AFCB knew how they could hurt Swansea and they kept trying to imply that pressure throughout the game. With Newcastle though they never had that breakthrough, and in failing to get a goal it sets doubts in the players that they can score as the game goes on.

Scoring goals has been a problem of late as you have to go back to two months to September before the Swansea game to see when AFCB last scored two goals in a game. So to get two in the first half was a big improvement and demonstrates that the team was more positive in its attacking play than we have seen in a long while. Now I know why I feel so much more confident about AFCB. Goals have simply been in short supply and early goals have been even more of a missing link.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Gosling is now the lead midfield orchestrator

The improvement in Dan Golsing's play has been stratospheric. He has not only raised his game but is driving on others around him and his last performance against Swansea was just outstanding. I can't see the five-man midfield being changed for some time now as Dan simply has to be involved. Arter and Surman likely to add further momentum to the Cherries' central midfield area as well as the trio get to play more games together. It is Dan though that has surprised me and he is starting to lead events now.
Dan has certainly been a big plus in central midfield this season.
 In fact, I think he should be the first name on the sheet at the moment. 
Breaking forward from midfield has always been a strong part of Gosling's game even from his early Plymouth days. We did not see a great deal of it in the Championship, even if he did show his quality in the Capital One Cup. It does not seem right that the Premier League can be more suitable for some players than others, but in Dan's case he looks so much more at ease playing against the best teams. He is helping others too as his hard chasing and running into the box is enabling Surman to pick his passes, while Arter has more time to think about where he can position himself in space. I don't think that the three have quite got their game intertwined as well as they would want quite yet, but it is being worked on and the team look stronger with the three of them in the middle of the park.

Dan's shooting has been a bit hit and miss, but against Swansea he calmly hit the spot with quite an exquisite strike from Ritchie's long-delayed layoff. It was good to see Dan make a late run into the box and Ritchie was very good at not releasing the ball until he felt he could make the right pass. It is clear that Dan wants to get on the scoresheet more often now and other players are starting to look for him entering the attacking third of the pitch. If he keeps striking the ball as crisply as he did though in his last outing, a truly sumptuous strike, I'll be expecting a few more goals to come his way.