Wednesday, 30 September 2015

King can rule at Dean Court

The opportunity for Josh King is there for all to see. He has had a mixed start to life at AFCB and has not hit the heights that most fans will have hoped for yet. And I do say yet. There is a massive chance for him now to be adored by the Bournemouth fans if he can set about taking responsibility for his performances and have faith in his own ability to get on a goalscoring run.
Josh King just needs to have goals in his sights.
Josh King is young and has not had that many full seasons in his career and his stop start run of fitness has even kept him in and out of the AFCB team this season. He has a lot of pressure on him for sure as a new signing, and that level of desire to do well probably went skyward when he realised that he would was likely to be one of the strikers that Eddie Howe could now turn to fill the void left by Callum Wilson.
Josh and Joe Bennett at Stoke City.
Josh has many of the attributes to play the Wilson role. He is fast and while not as powerful might be able to add more aggression to his game in time. He will have studied how Wilson plays and may be given the role of stretching defences rather than playing a supportive role. Whether he could partner Glen Murray in that way we will have to wait and see, but Eddie Howe certainly seems to favour Josh over some of the other strikers at the club, and if he can be moulded into a striker that is more confident in front of goal the opportunity now may just bring his game on faster than many of us might expect. All he needs is that first Premier League goal to start some momentum and if he can do that against Watford at Dean Court we'll all soon start feeling that we really do have another majestic striker at the club.

Look out tomorrow for the Cherry Chimes' October Newsletter which brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month, plus there is a special Newsletter article about AFCB's rise up the leagues: The chase will never be the same again

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The Cherries need to stick together

It will be difficult in the games to come without AFCB's leading striker but there is a tough mentality about this squad that I still believe will carry them through these tests. They have perhaps the hardest game this weekend that they could wish for as Watford do tend to play well against the Cherries. But in a sense I think that is good as the players can focus on what they need to do to get the three points.

Many will now consider that AFCB's best chance of staying up has gone. However, write off this team though at your peril. They have always been up against the odds and have come through every time. Yes, the Premier League is a higher level and things have gone against the team but the players can't afford to let it affect them and taking on a team that has just come up themselves is a game that they know they can win.  
AFCB doing some bonding at Stoke.
I feel that such instances are either the making of a team. The players will be backing each other now to do a job and to win some points to make matters better and if the Cherries can get on a bit of a run of points it will certainly build the belief. With the international break also not far away there is the possibility that some of the players will go away again, so the team spirit before then needs to be strong and the desire to get something against Watford will be very high indeed.

Harry Arter will also soon hopefully be back competing for a spot and AFCB need a bit of good news like that. Whether he is ready in time for one of the next few October matches is hard to tell from the outside, but I hope he only comes back when he is fully ready.


Look out tomorrow for the Cherry Chimes' October Newsletter which brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month, plus there is a special Newsletter article about AFCB's rise up the leagues: The chase will never be the same again

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

We are about to find out what Murray's got

With AFCB's No13 stretchered off in the first 17 minutes of the match at Stoke City it fell on Glenn Murray to step in and lead the line for the Cherries. While Murray will admit that he can't play like Callum Wilson, he has a long stride and a physical presence that we will surely see a lot more of in games from now on. It is strange how AFCB fans were saying how they needed to see more of Glenn Murray and while he was not picked to start last Saturday he suddenly becomes the main focus of attention.
Now we will see what Glenn Murray is capable of.
With Callum now sidelined for up to six months, getting the best out of Glenn is the aim now. The team is not used to playing with him as the figurehead up front but this week will be mainly about finding ways of making his runs and opportunities to score a little more familiar to everyone. Routine and habit will get the understanding that needs to be built up and it is vital that AFCB concentrate on the players they have available to them at this point rather than dwell too much on what they have lost.

Whether it sees a change in style from the Cherries play will perhaps be more down to how Murray wants to be seen himself and whether he can ask Eddie Howe to help him play to his strengths. During the 80 minutes or so that Murray did get against Stoke City it was good to see that Glenn did have some shots on target. The best chance he had was from a knockdown from Distin in the last 10 minutes though and AFCB will need to create more in the box chances for him.

Stoke trip did not disappoint

We had to leave the house at 9am on the Saturday to ensure that we could get passed any unexpected traffic delays on our way to the Britannia stadium. It was our first visit to the stadium so there was plenty of excitement and having missed the Norwich away game I was hoping to see a good AFCB away crowd and a good rocking atmosphere.
Destination - the Britannia stadium.
The route would take us along the M25 and up the M40 in fairly quick time and without any delays for once. We did start to hit trouble though on the M42 and the M6 where we suddenly saw a fair few reminders that the Rugby World Cup was on and Villa Park was one of the venues. Not surprisingly the traffic started to swell and our fast pace became more of a snail's crawl as we came up to the Dunlop offices and Birmingham's congested motorways.
An early start for Robert.
We stopped off for a quick bite to eat before going on to the Stadium.
At last we did find our way through and the A500 suddenly appeared in front of us and we soon had our first sight of the Britannia stadium situated high up on a hill. We shot past the stadium as we wanted to get some food inside ourselves before the big match and we had already picked out a well-known fast food chain on the map so it was easy to find. Stoke fans out numbered us hugely but they were happy enough to see us on the table next to them.

We had lost quite a bit of time on the road so we decided to eat quickly and look to park up at the ground by 1.30pm as I knew that it was likely to be a crowd over over 25,000. Navigating the nearby industrial estate with its roundabouts was pretty easy as it was well signed and well patrolled by marshals on every junction. Having handed over a fiver we were directed up towards the Stoke Academy building which was just a short walk away from the stadium.
We parked up a short walk from the stadium in one of the official car parks
 which meant find a space by the side of the road.
It wasn't too busy when we first had a full view
of the stadium. Note the big gap in the corner between the stands.
I started taking my pictures of the ground and we thought we would take a tour around the outside of the stadium to see all four sides. It always amuses me to see the stewards wanting to direct away fans to their section straight away, but we always like to see everything we can when visiting a new ground. Stoke's stadium is impressively tall and while only one corner is closed in it seemed fairly compact and not that different to Dean Court in some ways with the exposed stanchions and rugged looks.
The club shop was doing a good trade.
Shop window. 
The club shop was very ordered and adorned mainly with club shirts more than anything else. The absence of a big trophy cabinet was perhaps a bit telling of where Stoke City are as a mid-table club of recent seasons. Still they had a dedicated shirt numbering area and the ticket office was covered and large - not quite like ours.
The Marstons Pedigree away stand.
Plenty of cantilever metal work is on show around the stands.
I was keen to get an interview in with some Stoke fans and to assess their recent form so we spotted three fans who were the perfect guides to their team as it turned out and they all had something to say on why things had started slow for Stoke City at home. The loss of Steven Nzonzi to Sevilla this summer seemed to be the main reason for their difficulties but they were still scoring goals with Mame Diouf up front.
Plaque on Sir Stanley Matthews statue.
I just took this to show you the sun does shine in Stoke
and well it's a nice arty shot with our shadows.

Sir Stanley captured in motion.
John Ritchie 1941- 2007. I don't believe he was relayed to our  Matt, but you never know.
Stephen spotted a huge statue of the legendary Sir Stanley Matthews CBE so we went over to get a picture next to it and to see the sculpture close up. The three profiles really brought over the style of the man and his balance, but I wondered why it was set quite some way from the stands on the far side of the car park?

We spoke to a couple of more Stoke fans who were very open and pleased to exchange thoughts ahead of the game. Far from being down they were optimistic about their team and we soon found out that they had good reason to be confident. We entered the stadium at the Marstons Pedigree stand and ran up the steps to get a good view of the pitch and facing stands. Sadly there was a lot of netting behind the goals so I knew it would be hard to get many good photos pre-match, but there were a lot of empty seats and I moved around to try and get what shots I could get of the players while listening into the local radio station to try and capture the team list.
Lots of flag waving.
It was quite a good atmosphere before the game with applause ringing out for school children doing a charity fund raising event. We heard that there were no changes to the AFCB line up and having done a Cherries fan interview we were soon in our allotted seats watching the game. While the first half did not go well for the Cherries I was confident that they could still get something from the game. The Stoke fans were fairly quiet and I wondered if they sang more when it was an evening game than in afternoon matches or whether it was the fact that they had not won at home yet that they dare not sing up too much for fear they would lose again.

For AFCB it was all about how the team would respond having seen Callum go off injured and they played extremely well to get back in the game at 1-1. From that point I just thought hang on and don't concede, but Stoke conjured up a bit of magic and all the points were lost with just five minutes to go. The defeat was disappointing only because the team had fought so well to get back on level terms, but I couldn't say that anyone had a really bad game. Sometimes the game just goes away from you and that was the case on this day. Well played Stoke.
Dan Gosling leads the players off the pitch.
The walk back to the car was fairly uneventful and we had a bit of a queue leaving the roads around the stadium with most of the traffic being diverted to the A50 Uttoxeter and Derby. We decided to go with the flow even though it meant a slightly longer journey back via the M1, but by the time we reached Redhill at 8.40pm we knew that whatever route we had gone on it would have been busy.

Job done, another away ground ticked off. Just time for me to get the laptop out again and start writing up the match report. These jouno's at the match with their laptops on tables have it easy compared to us paper and pen bloggers!

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery. Please also listen again to the Mick Cunningham interview on All Departments' website.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Don't underestimate Gosling's scoring abilities

AFCB need goals from all over the pitch and probably even more so now that they have lost Callum Wilson to injury. The team has been getting most of its goals from Wilson and from the wings, but Dan Gosling chipped in with the first central midfield goal of the season up at Stoke and it would be rather helpful if he could get on one of his scoring runs now to lift some of the burden off of the strikers who will have to try and make up for Callum's absence.
Dan Gosling continued his strong form at Stoke.
Dan has not found it easy to win a place in this side and he finally might be feeling that he is really making a big contribution now. His goal at Stoke City ended up being a consolation goal but at the time it was well taken and demonstrated his calmness in the box when presented with a shooting chance. Beating Jack Butland is no simple task and that Gosling found the corner showed his great execution.

There was a bit of a tendency for players to overplay a little in and around the box in the last game. Lee Tomlin was probably the chief culprit and I think it would do him wonders to get on the score sheet and not feel that he has to pass when he has a good clear shot at goal himself. That is what Gosling did and I am sure he will grow from that goal and will look to keep having some shots. Others need to be brave enough to have a go as well.

I don't think we have seen the best from AFCB's midfield yet. They need to make it harder for teams when they are in creative positions and while the team is getting their shot count up it is not as high as it might be if the players just had the thought of shooting more often when they found themselves in space and in a good position to shoot.

PremierTalk asks: Did anyone see Man City's result coming?

AFCB's defence is facing tough examinations

Like everyone I was very sad to hear that Mike Cunningham passed away yesterday. I am pleased that there are so many photographs though that everyone has been sharing that were taken by Mick over the years and I do hope fans get to think about the great work he did for the Echo and the club over the years. The club I am sure will make a big effort next match to tribute to Mick in the best way they feel is appropriate. Our thoughts are with his family.

Back to Saturday's game

On the playing field, most of the thoughts this week have been connected with the team losing its star striker. It is the obvious big news and yet the injury disguises some facts that AFCB fans might not be so happy to think about. However well AFCB played last Saturday they again let in two goals from open play. They were not the kind of typical goals that the Cherries have been conceding. It is not often that you see our players getting sucked into the ball to stop a player on the byline and to be outstretched on the wing and have to face an incoming cross while running towards your own goal is not a defensive position that AFCB ever try to find themselves in. Still it happened.
Hopefully not running in totally different directions
- Sylvain Distin and Steve Cook.

For the first goal Simon Francis clearly lost out to Arnautovic's skill and found himself slipping and sliding but ultimately not able to block him which opened up the whole goal for Walters who had the simplest of tasks to put Stoke ahead. Arnautovic was the main villain all afternoon for the Cherries as he had several raids that were very effective and he carried the ball well. had he been shackled a bit earlier in the match it might not have been such a good day for the Potteries club. I don't think Artur Boruc had much choice but to cover his near post and with Steve Cook already sucked in to the byline there was only Surman and Daniels trying to make things difficult for Walters, but they couldn't beat him to the cross.

Stoke's second goal was equally disappointing from an AFCB defensive point of view. A quick free kick and an alert Glen Johnson ultimately did for the Cherries resistance. The space that Johnson found himself in was huge as Daniels was out of position and when the low cross was perfectly slung in the bounce caught out the stretching Distin who missed the ball and it was superbly finished by Diouf's stooping header in between the defenders. Whether Boruc might have anticipated where the ball would be crossed to is hard to say but it can't be easy when you see three players hurtling towards you and the ball still out in front of the six yard box as the players come rushing in.

The quality of both goals from a Stoke point of view would be considered quite high. There was not much AFCB could do once Arnautovic had weaved his way around the back and  Johnson's cross was pinpoint for the second. Two quality moments and two goals conceded. keeping a clean sheet is far from easy in the Premier league and yet AFCB looked comfortable for most of the game. I just hope it is not a pattern that keeps repeating itself.

All Departments has released its podcast to review the Stoke game. Just visit All Departments' website to listen in. It will be posted on Cherry Chimes later today.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Stoke snatch first win as Cherries lose Wilson 2-1

Match Report
Stoke City 2 v 1 AFCB
26 September 2015
Attendance: 27,742 (including 1635 Cherries) 
This was a record attendance 
at the Britannia stadium
Stoke City v AFCB - the teams are led out.
There are really small margins that determine whether a team wins or loses in this league. Stoke City know that well enough having not won a game before this match, but when the Cherries lost their golden goal scorer after nine minutes it was an upward battle for AFCB and Stoke won a lot of the personal battles in the first half. That dominance was reinforced with a tap in goal for Walters after half an hour once Marho Arnautovic had got to the byline and got the better of Simon Francis. A more galvanised Bournemouth side attacked with persistence in the second half and there fightback really came alive the faultless Jack Butland was finally beaten by a well struck low shot from Dan Gosling with 14 minutes to go. Perhaps AFCB scored too early as with just five minutes to go a Stoke move up the right by Glen Johnson saw Mame Diouf head in from six yards to earn Stoke their first home win of the season.

AFCB kept the same starting 11 from the Sunderland match and welcomed Josh King back onto the subs bench. Meanwhile, Stoke could bring in  Wollscheid and Charlie Adam to their line up.


Stoke City fans John, Nick and Mack talk about the 
form of Mark Hughes' team. I must admit the Stoke fans were a pleasure
 to talk to and made AFCB fans very welcome.


AFCB fan Barren wanted to see Glenn Murray start. 
The tannoy system got us today but AFCB fans were in optimistic mood.

There are more images on Match Day Gallery.

The initial exchanges were fairly often broken up with free kicks and both teams struggled to get their passing going with much consistency and accuracy. Steve Cook did not do much to settle nerves when he sliced a ball out of play. Any such initial problems suddenly seemed very minor compared to the injury that Callum Wilson then sustained on 8 minutes. His knee gave way after a challenge from Wollscheid and he managed to get up and tried to jog it off on the side line. While he did not look at ease he did come back on but broke down again almost immediately and we had nine minutes of him being attended to until he was stretchered off and the game resumed.

Glenn Murray was now thrust into the action and the match continued with Wollscheid making a mess of his clearance. AFCB fans were wondering if they would have many players left the way things ere going as Pugh went down next and then Tomlin started to hobble. Where the protection was from referee Lee Mason was I have no idea, but he was not the Cherries favourite man on the pitch. 

Stoke's first bit of quality play came on 23 minutes when Walters found Bojan who saw his shot deflect off Steve Cook and Boruc made a save. Keeping the ball was troublesome for AFCB as Ritchie was next to lose it. Sylvain Distin was looking more assured and was winning the aerial battles. Yet, Francis soon knew he would have a difficult day with Arnautovic forcing a corner down Stoke's left wing. Then a shot from distance from Glenn Whelan moved viciously through the players and Boruc just got enough of himself to keep the shot out for a corner.

Stoke were well in control and were winning the centre midfield battle and using the wings well. Pressure was finally released with Whelan's foul on Tomlin. But the annoying pattern that seemed to happen more than a few times is that Glenn Murray would find himself offside and merely hand back possession to Stoke City who were growing in confidence. When Murray was clipped from 30 yards out, we prayed for a Matt Ritchie special strike but he hit it straight at Jack Butland.

Stoke's reply was to get the ball to Arnautovic down the left and he had the beating of Francis who slipped in the box. Once Arnautovic had reached the byline, Boruc guarded his post but the cross found Johnathan Walters who simply stabbed the ball home from six yards. It was 1-0 to Stoke and AFCB were up against it with 32 minutes gone.

While the Cherries responded with some strong play it was costly to see Lee Tomlin not shoot again when given room on the edge of the box, instead choosing to pass to Ritchie who was wide on the right, but he only found Murray at the far post who managed a looping header with no power. Tomlin was making runs though and being positive. Distin as well was carrying the fight and Daniels managed to win the Cherries first corner on 42 minutes.

A few moments later and AFCB should have been celebrating a goal. Daniels and then Pugh made inroads through Stoke's defence by lifting the ball over his shoulder and past Johnson. The ball came to Murray who heeled it on to Tomlin in the box, and rather than shoot himself, he passed to Matt Ritchie who was free to strike his shot, with just Butland to beat, but the young keeper saw Erik Pieters get back in time  to make a lunging block that saved a certain goal.  

Gosling was the next Bournemouth player to have a chance at shooting but he decided cross instead and the ball was cleared. The corners that the Cherries took as well were not passing the first man when Pugh took them and so Tomlin took the next one when Ritchie had a shot deflected for another corner. From the cross though stoke broke through the middle, then to the left and Arnautovic luckily put the chance wide from the centre of the box right on half time. It was a huge let off. Meanwhile, Shaqiri had pulled up clutching his hamstring and had to go off. So Afellay came on just as the whistle went for half time.
The big screen.
The Match day ball.
Half time.
Second Half
The second half saw a more determined AFCB side go on the attack. Stoke had probably had the best of the first half in terms of possession but they would be tested in the second 45 minutes. The Cherries were still making mistakes though and Tomlin was robbed in midfield and almost set Stoke up through the middle. Charlie Adam was also still breaking up AFCB's attacks from the middle.


Again Tomlin would lose the ball this time to Wollscheid, but Arnautovic was caught offside. When AFCB did get the ball in the box and Murray challenged Butland it was the Cherries who saw the flag go up for offside rather than an infringement on the keeper.

The quality of the game seemed to be lacking as AFCB could not get a real hold of the game and Stoke probably were unsure if to twist or stick in their position. Glenn Murray then had a tame shot from the edge of the box that did not trouble Butland on 54 minutes. Bournemouth's pressure was starting to tell as the passing sequences got longer. 

Bojan was withdrawn for Mame Diouf to come on with 62 minutes gone.

AFCB were having their best part of the game and Pugh almost danced his way through three played in the box, but was blocked by Whelan. That was followed by another offside for Glenn Murray as the Cherries looked like they might be running out of ideas. Eddie Howe decided Lee Tomlin should be replaced on 71 minutes for Josh King as the southerners went in search of the equaliser.

More pleasingly for the Cherries we saw the back of Charlie Adam on 75 minutes as he was replaced by van Ginkel. The break in play did AFCB some good as Ritchie got on the ball and then Pugh had a shot blocked, but the ball broke to Gosling who thundered in a low shot right past Butland's outstretched left arm and into the bottom corner of the net 1-1.

AFCB were coming at Stoke now with real intent. Ritchie played the ball to Pugh who did a back heel for Gosling to run on to just outside the box. Gosling thought he might have scored again but Butland showed what a fine shot stopper he is by saving it on 79 minutes. That was as good as it would get though for AFCB as a move on the right wing, following a free kick against Glenn Murray, with the ever strong Glen Johnson saw his deep cross met by the on rushing Diouf who headed the ball down and the ball swept past Brouc in a flash! It was 2-1 to Stoke and all the Cherries' hard work had been undone. 

Adam Smith came on for Pugh with three minutes of normal time left. there were still chances to come. Distin hooked the ball onto Glenn Murray on the right of the box and he hit his shot well across the goal but Butland threw out his right arm and pulled off another brilliant save. The more cheeky attempt was that of Matt Ritchie from about 40 yards out on the wing. He drifted the ball in the air the full distance and Butland was caught well off his line and it was to his relief that the ball just landed a metre wide of his left upright! Whelan then managed to remind lee mason that he had a yellow card and he issued it for a foul on Smith in the 88th minute - better late than never!

With four minutes of extra time being played it was Stoke that might have extended the lead but somehow Afellay shot wide. The game was going to end 2-1 and Arnautovic was trying to make sure of it by throwing the ball back off the pitch whenever Jason Tindall tried to pass the ball to a Stoke player to take  the throw. How Lee Mason did not give Arnautovic a yellow card for time wasting is beyond me. Still, Stoke did enough on the day to get their first home win while AFCB will need to study this game carefully as they had chances to win it. 
The Cherries narrowly lose out.
Eddie has to reflect on a period now without Callum Wilson.
Summary
A bad day for AFCB, not so much for the result or the way that the team played but for the loss of Callum Wilson. The injury will have an impact on the team and I already feel it did in this game. But putting that aside Arnautovic and Pieters were able to have a big influence on the game for Stoke, while Butland made some great saves. The experience of Charlie Adam was also a problem for AFCB and the Cherries need their own ball winner back in the middle of the park as soon as possible. Still it was a strong second half performance and the Cherries have to try and build on that. What can't be hidden though is the fact that if the Cherries keep conceding two goals a game they will struggle to win many matches unless their strikers are on top form and put away all their chances.

AFCB:
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels, Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh (Smith 86), Tomlin (King 71), Wilson (Murray 17).


AFCB subs:
Federici, Cargill, Smith, Bennett, MacDonald, King, Murray.

AFCB Ratings: 
Boruc 6, Francis 6, Cook 6, Distin 8, Daniels 6, Ritchie 7, Gosling 7, Surman 6, Pugh 7, Tomlin 7, Wilson (Murray 6).

Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Cameron, Wollscheid, Pieters, Whelan, Adam (van Ginkel 75), Shaqiri (Afellay 45), Bojan (Diouf 62), Arnautovic, Walters.

Stoke subs: Given, Muniesa, Joselu, Afellay, van Ginkel, Diouf, Crouch. 


Ref Watch: Lee Mason 3/10 - not a lot of protection for AFCB players and he might have forgotten he had a yellow card.

I am sorry to hear about the loss of Mick Cunningham this morning who I am sure many of you knew very well. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Howe is more than getting his message across

The starting line up against Sunderland was a shelling of players that had stumbled at Norwich City. While some of those players will come back into the team at some point it demonstrated that Eddie Howe can't afford to have sub-par performances if he is to bring more success to the south coast. It is great credit to those that came in that they stormed to victory in the first 10 minutes of the game against Sunderland and did not get a chance to show any nerves, but the real victory was Eddie Howe's decision to have a clear out and sharpen up players' minds as to what they need to do to get the points. The mindset was right last weekend. Eddie Howe got what he demanded from his team and that bodes really well for the rest of the season. 
Eddie enjoys the challenge of winning games and will have
got his message over to the AFCB players as they take on Stoke City today.
In comparison Dick Advocaat did not get a response from his players. They may have been on the pitch and were trying to take the game to the Cherries but they could not shackle Callum Wilson and Kaboul was the main one to suffer from that. I would not say that Sunderland's head's went down but they seemed incapable of being able to lift their game. There was no such feeling about the Cherries who seemed to have several gears to go between. We saw good game management and Eddie Howe seems to be getting his message through to his players.

While it is not great to have setbacks, AFCB are showing that they can pick themselves up and that when they have performed poorly they can up their game. More importantly, they trust Eddie Howe and that strength is what should see the team head towards safety in good time.

Today's game will see Mark Hughes in the home dugout and he will be on edge about the outcome of this match as another home game without a win will increase pressure on him. He has a full squad to pick from this week, apart from Ryan Shawcross and perhaps Mark Wilson if he fails a late fitness test. There will be no hiding if he does not get it right, so I feel that the Stoke players are the ones that have most to fear in this game, but it will need AFCB to be first to the ball in the first 15-20 minutes and to get Stoke to start doubting themselves. I read a stat that the Cherries had run the furthest so far of any team in the Premier League at 697km and if Stoke are fragile when it comes to lasting 90 minutes, as we saw against Leicester City, it will be Eddie Howe's management prowess that pundits will talking about again.

See you at the game today - safe trip everyone! UTCIAD!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Wilson leading the way

You can't get away with speaking about AFC Bournemouth and not mention Callum Wilson. Even on summing up the first home win for the Cherries in Match of the Day, Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy had to give special mention to Callum's skill and how he needs to be kept fit to keep the Cherries' challenge going strong.


Too soon for an England call up? Eddie Howe doesn't think it is.
It is hard to disagree with them. For while we have yet to see what Glenn Murray can really do for the team, Callum Wilson is undeniably a striker that virtually any team in the Premier League would like to have on their books. His skill to spin his man and gain that advantage over central defenders is going to cause problems for better players than Younes Kaboul during the course of this season, and Wilson's powerful finish past Pantilimon showed that he is now in devastating form when he has a sight of goal.

Having scored five goals already in seven games, the influence of Wilson's fire power can't be denied. It is a big part in what will be needed to keep the Cherries in this league and the 20 goal a season mark is perhaps only the first target for him now having made such a promising start. His strength and initial pace over the first 10 yards is as good as any striker in the league and if he can up his on target ratio we could see a really special season from him. UTCIAD!

Have Stoke City just been unlucky?

Stoke City are not perennial strugglers in the Premier league so it is a little surprising that they are sitting in the bottom three with three points from six games and no win under their belt yet. The Cherries have to try and keep it that way with their visit to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday. But have Mark Hughes' side been unlucky or just slightly off of their game?

Bringing in a batch of new players can sometimes work for clubs straight away but with others more time is needed and I believe this is what has happened at Stoke City. They have certainly spent over the summer on the likes of  Xherdan Shaqiri while Ibrahim Afellay was signed from Barcelona. With players like Glen Johnson and Shay Given joining the squad they also have Premier League experience, but the loan signings have perhaps taken away some of the solidity that the side had last year rather than simply increasing the competitiveness of the side. Bojan is certainly a player that looks on top of his game in their side and he will be the player that Eddie Howe is likely to pick out to be especially aware of as his movement is excellent as shown against Leicester City in their last game.

Eddie has some selection ideas to help AFCB to get a result at Stoke City.

Stoke have only conceded five goals so far, but were ahead in games against Leicester and Norwich only to come away with draws. They have made mistakes by letting teams back into games and that is a sign of a shortness of confidence. So hanging on to leads has not been their strong point, while they did well to come back from 2-0 down against Tottenham. 

Mark Hughes may feel his side has been well in games but they have not been dominating. They had just 11 attempts at goal against Leicester and four were on target. The balance is probably not quite right in their team yet and it is may be good fortune for AFCB fans that Eddie Howe may well have come across the right balance to his team from what we saw in the Cherries' last game.

Mark Hughes says he has some players to comeback so he may choose a slightly amended side for the visit of AFCB.

My predicted AFCB XI - unchanged
Boruc (GK), Francis (RD), Cook (CD), Distin (CD), Daniels (LD), Ritchie (RM), Gosling (CM), Surman (CM), Pugh (LM), Tomlin (FW), Wilson (FW) 


Stoke City Home Form
LDL

AFCB Away Form
LWL

Rival Lines: 4231 Stoke - Butland best keeper in Europe!

Rival Lines
Match Preview
Stoke City v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Four, Two,Three, One Stoke

Twitter: @4231Stoke

This week I had a talk with Four, Two, Three, One Stoke blog, ahead of the Cherries next match. While Stoke have not managed to win at home yet and Mark Hughes is still looking to get the best from his new summer signings, I was wondering if the mood of the Potters was still optimistic for the season. Sam was kind enough to give AFCB fans a detailed insight into what is going on at the Britannia.

CC: How much are you enjoying the Mark Hughes style of play after the Pulis years?


4321S: We get asked this question a lot, the style under Hughes has much more fluidity but lacks that enjoyable comfort that we used to get from knowing that we could hold onto a lead if needed. If we could blend the two you'd probably have the perfect manager. One of the most refreshing aspects under Hughes is that we can clearly see how the players can be improved to take the club further and really challenge for those European fringe places.

CC: Stoke City have made some amazing signings this summer, especially Xherdan Shaqiri, so have your expectations higher this season despite the slow start?

4321S: We've started off slowly but that's no real surprise. It's been a theme under Hughes in all of his seasons here and also at previous clubs. Expectations are currently rock bottom among many fans (we must have the most bi-polar fans in the league). A few wins and people will be putting forwards as candidates to break into the top six again though, at 4231 we like to think we're fairly level-headed and as long as we keep ourselves within that mid-table mini-league we're fairly happy.


CC: How much has the team missed Ryan Shawcross and Bojan Krkic?

4321S:  We've missed Shawcross massively, purely on the fact that the team has barely trained without him being the centrepiece of the defence for at least five years. He's an irreplaceable player for us, and far more valuable than anyone could -or would- pay for him. Bojan has also been a miss, as shown by his almost immediate impact against Leicester. While we do have a lot of adequate replacements in the attacking areas of the pitch it's very hard to replace his almost psychic ability to find space in a tight game.

CC: With Begovic moving on in the summer, have you been impressed with Jack Butland?

4321S: Good lord yes! There were concerns from a lot of fans after his previous performances that he'd struggle to command his box but he's been exceptional. It's hard to think of a goalkeeper in Europe, let alone England who's in better form than him right now.

CC: Is it important for Stoke City to sort out this new contract with Jon Walters or do you expect him to be off in January?

4321S: For me it's a very important thing but I really wouldn't be surprised if he were to move on in January or the summer. I love the bloke, but everything will depend on how much playing time he can get between now and January 1st. He started last season off in a similar position behind a few players but after scoring against Swansea he never looked back and saw off all comers to be one of our most important players. Him and Bojan are telepathic and just one of those strike partnerships that work (think Quinn & Phillips, Bergkamp & Henry, Crouch & Defoe).

CC: Why do you think haven't Stoke City had a win yet - too many mistakes or unlucky?

4321S: A mixture of both really. We were unfortunate not to win against Liverpool we were by far the better team and against Spurs and Norwich we could've run out winners with the right stroke of luck. West Brom was a catastrophe and Arsenal away is a given thumping for us, we never perform there. We've lost a solid spine in N'Zonzi and Shawcross that would've made up for a lot, but without them our midfield is practically useless defensively and we don't really have the players in the squad to fix it. It's certainly making people appreciate the defensive work that N'Zonzi did alongside Whelan.

CC: Has Stoke City got many young players that could play in the cup competitions this season and who are very near to getting in the first team?

4321S: Ollie Shenton is the major starlet in the youth teams. He's 17 and made his league debut as a sub against Manchester City last season, he's also played in a few cup fixtures last year. There are strong rumours that he might be heading out on loan to the Championship so it will be a good opportunity to gauge his ability. He was very impressive in preseason. Other than that we recruited heavily for our U21's with Moha from Barca B, Sergi Molina - the Real Madrid C team captain and two Blackpool youngsters (Telford & Waddington) both of who impressed in the first team there. The real area of talent though is our U18's group, there are a number of very good players there.

CC: What can we look forward to seeing on our visit to the Britannia stadium?

4321S: The incinerator? It's not the greatest area for a stadium, there's very little surrounding it. Sorry. There's a couple of nice pubs nearby and all are pretty friendly for away fans.

CC: What do you make of AFC Bournemouth and their rise up the leagues?

4321S: We've enjoyed it and to join the media love-in we have loved watching Eddie Howe's progress. The recent run of 'surprise' teams to get promoted is far more fun to watch than a stale boring repeat of the same two sets of teams each year when relegated teams get straight back up. I guess in a way we kind of started that trend. It's also good to see a club like Bournemouth fight back to success from the financial ruins left by Redknapp (once again). That said, I don't like Harry Arter, had a disagreement with him on twitter over Scott Parker and he doesn't seem the brightest.

CC: What is your score prediction for the match?

4321S: I've got to go with a home win. Feeling a 2-1, a close game. We'll probably start fast and take a two goal lead again, we'll concede around the 70 minute mark and it'll be a nervy finish.

CC: Superb Sam! I really enjoyed that - especially the Harry Arter comment! He is very close to his brother-in-law so I am not surprised if he defended him, but we love Harry at AFCB as he always gives 100%. Sadly he had a bit of a setback this week but we hope to see him play again soon as he will add something to the Premier League. As an England fan I am keen to know that you rate Jack Butland so highly. I just hope that he is kept extremely busy on Saturday against a team that sure likes to attack. I can understand that you you predict a home win - good to see Stoke fans in good cheer. I am hoping that Peter Crouch does get a game, perhaps from the subs bench and am just glad none of our players have ponytails that he can pull on! 

AFCB fans make sure you wrap up warm when visiting the Britannia - I've heard it can get chilly up there. You can always warm up on local knowledge though about Stoke City FC and you'll find that at Four, Two,Three, One Stoke  

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A great clean sheet for AFCB can we have another?

While I might have been wondering if AFCB were going to have to wait a good while to get their first Premier League clean sheet, it was a delight to see that they managed it in a home game. The Vitality Stadium has only seen two goals go in against the team and it is of course important that the goals that other teams get are not simply down to standard mistakes. Pleasingly the Cherries came away with that clean sheet against Sunderland but it was not all certain that they would do that given the chances Sunderland had.
Artur Boruc on goal minding duties.
Yes, Distin was immense at the back and the back line played with confidence but there were moments when they rode their luck a little. Jordi Gomez was close to catching out Artur Boruc with his early free kick and the quick thinking Premier League players are going to be a constant threat all season. Artur had a good game though and certainly rescued the team against Defoe's one on one. But where was the marking Jermain's headed attempt that went wide but could easily have been directed on goal in that first half? Yes, it was given offside but there was a sharp intake of breath before the assistant referee put his flag up. There is still some communication issues between the keepers and central defenders that could be worked on. That should come with game time though, after all Tommy Elphick is the usual organiser of the back four and Sylvain will be working hard to get the understanding with Steve Cook right.

The big bonus for Eddie Howe was to see that Sunderland only managed two shots on target so Boruc's work was kept to a minimum for once. Keeping the game tight and flourishing at the other end is the recipe for success and as long as that continues at Dean Court the Cherries will be a difficult team to beat.

Distin is just a tower of strength

It was certain that at some point that Sylvain Distin would make a Premier League start in an AFC Bournemouth shirt. That it happened as early as the sixth game is no shame on Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook who have made a good start to their top flight careers, but the injury to Elphick may funnily have come at a good time. Tommy can now look back at his game and assess a few areas where he can do better, while Steve Cook gets the chance to work with a very experienced central defender on match day.
Sylvain's Distin's Premier League debut in
an AFCB shirt could not have gone much better.
Steve Cook played on the right side of Sylvain against Sunderland which was perhaps a surprise, but it probably kept Cook more on his toes than usual. Having Sylvain next to him though must have been inspirational as the big man just won header after header and put in some hefty challenges to boss the back line and give Borini and Defoe little room or encouragement. AFCB fans have not seen much of Distin apart from in the pre-season games and Capital One Cup, but on this latest performance it is hard to see him not carrying on for some time in the team as long as he does not need a rest.

While Sylvain did make one misjudgement that let in Defoe for a good shooting opportunity against Boruc that was the only slip he made all game. For most of the time he was in charge at the back clearing balls over the East stand or powering headers some 20 yards up the pitch for the midfielders to latch on to. It was impressive and he seemed to have so much more time to make his clearances and passes than the rushed passes that we sometimes see as defenders come under pressure.

I think it was important that Distin played in either the Sunderland or Preston match as his experience would be vital for the Stoke away game this week. Now that Distin has dipped his toe back in the frenetic atmosphere of the Premier League, he should be well up for keeping a clean sheet at the Britannia.

if you have not already found out why Tokelo Rantie missed the midweek game at Preston have a look at the official AFCB website - Dublin is a long way from Preston.

It had to be them - Liverpool!

I'm not one of those fans who would ever tire of seeing AFCB playing a team like Liverpool. Yes, we know they have been a bit of a sticking point for the Cherries in the League Cup and FA Cup over the last couple of seasons but there have been too many years when AFCB simply have not been on the big stage and have gone out to teams like Preston and Hartlepool before even getting to round four of the Capital One Cup.
Yes, it's Anfield again.
You do wonder though how the balls keep on pairing Liverpool with AFCB. I expect Eddie Howe had a smile and though oh great not a again, but if there is a day when the Cherries beat a side like Liverpool in a cup it is probably going to be the year when the club has a real opportunity of lifting silverware. There is much less of a gap between the two sides now on the pitch as we saw only a few weeks ago and perhaps a different story will play out this time.

Listening to Carlisle and Liverpool take penalties last night to see who would go through to the fourth round was kind of weired as the draw was already known and an away trip to one of them was already booked for AFCB. I guess at least Liverpool is not quite so far and for those who missed the Monday night league fixture it is another chance to go to one of the most historic grounds in the country.

This time Brendan Rodgers maybe under even more pressure than the last few occasions when the teams have met. Liverpool fans must want the game to come quickly as AFCB always seem to kick start their season.  Yet, it is good to see that Danny Ings has made a good start at the club and that Sean O'Driscoll can meet up with his AFCB colleagues again. So the date of Tuesday 27 October will be in AFCB fan's diaries and perhaps this time it will be the time to get past the Merseysiders. Oh, and you can expect a date change if the TV companies are still not tired of another Liverpool v AFCB fixture.

All Departments reviews the AFCB win against Preston North End in the Capital One Cup. Visit All Departments' website to listen in.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Gosling grabs the central midfield role

There was a tough choice to be made over who should start in central midfield against Sunderland. Eunan O'Kane was all over the Matchday programme cover so we might have guessed that he would be the one dropped for the re-emergence of Dan Gosling in the side. It has been a bit of a quandary over why Dan has played so well in cup games for the team but had not managed to cement his place in the side during the league campaigns. Perhaps that is going to change now.
Dan ruled the midfield against Sunderland.
The match against Sunderland was certainly a good game for Dan. He found plenty of space in the midfield and had a big impact on the game, providing the assist for Wilson's opening goal and pushing forward frequently to add to the attacking numbers. We've seen him give away the ball too often in the past in games at home, but he managed to make far fewer mistakes against Sunderland and looked like he was at ease with his own game. What's more he set a new record for distance covered for a player in the Premier League of 8.6 miles.

The central midfield area is still an area where the Cherries have found it hard to keep control for long spells in games and Arter's comeback trail will be carefully monitored, but there is part of me that believes that Dan could prolong his stay in the role if he can finally get a series of games under his belt. The Sunderland game could just be the trigger that he has needed to get his performance levels up to the right height and now that he knows where he needs to be he can try and emulate that in the coming games. 

I also see that by giving players opportunities to come back into the side Eddie Howe is really helping the total squad mentality. Perform below the standard required and you will be dropped, but work hard and produce during the week and on match days and you will get that game time. That has to be Dan's target now to get regular selection.
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