Friday, 15 December 2017

Could Begovic have saved Lukaku's header?

Asmir Begovic won't have been pleased with how Man United get their win at Old Trafford against a Bournemouth side that were well in the game and even dominating for periods of it. While he may think he could have got across better to stop Lukaku's winner, he would have hoped for a bit more cover in the first place from his defenders in stopping the cross coming in.
Was Begovic a bit slow at Old Trafford?
On the night, I thought Asmir did not have too much to do. He only faced two shots that were on target and I suppose he would have liked to have stopped them both, but without making excuses for him it was not a great night in terms of the weather and both he and De Gea must have thought before the game kicked off that they would probably be very busy with such conditions on the pitch.

When the goal did come Begovic was looking almost shocked at how close he had ended up next to the post. Whether he was unaware of his position exactly or the speed of the ball is hard to tell, but he didn't really get anywhere near to it. I don't think he simply expected Aké to win the header, but the angle of Lukaku's header certainly took him by surprise.

Where Eddie Howe might be more concerned is with what happened in the build up when Adam Smith went down after colliding with Martial and not getting up as quickly as he probably needed to to help stop Juan Mata get his cross in. If a player is truly injured though you hope the referee stops the game and awards a free kick. Sadly, it didn't come for Bournemouth. So there was a need to rally to help defenders in that area of the pitch. Mata is such a good player that those few extra seconds is all he needed to provide the perfect cross for Lukaku and Bournemouth were undone.

I think Begovic might have done better, but it was really a series of errors and not just one that led to United's goal along with some quality play from United. 

Ask Fans' Match Preview AFCB v Liverpool

AFCB training complex gets go ahead.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

No disgrace in defeat at Old Trafford

Bournemouth did not want to lose in Manchester and they did everything they could to try and get a result. What Eddie did get though was a performance. It was a very positive evening despite not getting any points and while that gnarls in someways, it means that AFCB can go into the Liverpool match believing that they are very close to beating one of the top six sides and their next game could bring the victory they are working so hard for.
Eddie Howe has much to be pleased about the performance at Old Trafford.
United may not have had all their best stars out on the pitch but they will have been delighted that De Gea was in between the sticks for this match. The final stats read  14 shots in an away game for the Cherries and seven of them on target. That is not a team struggling to play well and yet Eddie Howe knows things are still not quite right as he got nothing from the game, but respect I am sure for Man Utd fans and Jose Mourhino.

United have not lost many games at Old Trafford and to lose by just the single goal underlines that Bournemouth have been working hard to narrow the gap on the best teams. They just need that break to get a win against such a team and if United did not have De Gea in goal Bournemouth might have done even better.

The goal itself was something out of nothing. Adam Smith will argue that he was fouled but the team did not deal with the cross from Mata who had time to look up and pick out Lukaku and Aké was out jumped while Begovic was slow to get across. Not many fans would have though AFCB would lose by just a single goal. Bournemouth were good with the ball when they had it, and the pressure the Cherries created was so many in number it felt like Bournemouth would get something at some point.

Eddie Howe will not look discouraging on this result. While the table looks a bit worrying the performances are coming.

Lukaku heads United to a narrow win over Bournemouth

Match Description
Man Utd 1 v 0 AFCB
13 December 2017
Attendance: 74,798
Bournemouth leave Old Trafford disappointed.
Eddie Howe may not have been so pleased to see Romelu Lukaku stepping out at Old Trafford knowing what he can do and he duly scored after 25 minutes with a header at the far post. It did not tell the story of Bournemouth having the most shots in the first 45 minutes, but  Bournemouth could not find a way to beat David De Gea. The second half saw no less endeavour by the Cherries and while Defoe and Afobe added energy up front and Lewis Cook was given a few minutes to impress, the Cherries still could not find a shot to beat De Gea. Rashford and Martial came close to extending the lead for United, but Begovic was not over stretched that often. Even in the last minute it was Bournemouth looking to get another shot on target, but they needed something special and Fraser could not quite manage it with the final free kick.

Bournemouth made four changes which was a bit of a shock, at least it was a surprise for Jermain Defoe to be put on the subs bench having scored two at Crystal Palace. Steve Cook, Lewis Cook and Andrew Surman were also dropped to the bench. In came Dan Gosling, Adam Smith and Harry Arter.

Match Description
Lingard had an early attempt at an overhead kick from a cross from Mata but Bournemouth managed to escape the first United attack. Gosling had the first shot for the Cherries but it was blocked. Wilson managed a good break but was kept out by Phil Jones.

The rain is really driving down at Old Trafford. Arter is getting pulled up for fouls, but no cards yet. Mata gets caught offside. Stanislas has a good run towards goal but Fraser loses out in the challenge with Valencia.

United are pressing high up the field now and AFCB don't look comfortable when the Reds do that. Man United are retaining possession well now with 12 minutes gone. Aké does well to find his feet to stop Lukaku getting the ball.

Bournemouth have a corner. Stanislas has his shot blocked. Aké is caught late by Lukaku. A good cross in by Martial but Lukaku can't get to it.

King goes on a strong run and Jones just gets a good tackle in to stop the Bournemouth forward from shooting. Another Bournemouth corner is cleared.

Daniels goes on a run and whips a great low shot in at De Gea who has to dive sharply to his left and another Bournemouth corner, 21 minutes gone. King on the break and Fraser, cross come in and King heads it on, Gosling shoots and it's beaten away by De Gea.

Great tackle on Lingard by Arter, just outside the box. Martial catches Adam Smith in the face - no foul given. Cross from Mata and Lukaku scores with a header at the far post on 25 minutes, got above Aké. It's 1-0 to United. Begovic a bit slow to move to his left for that.

Gosling goes in on Jones and is carded. It was a rash challenge. Adam Smith is caught out by Luke Shaw and Francis gets a foot in and almost gives Begovic a shot to save, corner.

Stanislas has a shot just inside the box and its deflected but saved by De Gea. A break with Wilson. King joins him and Fraser's cross is blocked for a corner. The ball falls to Francis and he volley's it widely over the bar on 34 minutes.

Lukaku runs past loads of Bournemouth players before Arter gets a tackle in. Arter has hurt his back, but he'll be okay. United work the ball well own the right and Valencia gets a shot off that Aké gets a foot on. Luckily Lukaku is offside.

Mata puts in a useful cross to Martial but he loses control to Adam Smith. Lukaku gets booked for a foul on Arter.

Daniels looks for Fraser but it's far too strong a pass. Two minutes of added time go up. Wilson finds Fraser crosses and De Gea scrambles to his near post to keep it out before Fraser makes a foul.

At half time AFCB have had eight shots compared to Man Utd's three and three shots on target compared to one of United's when they scored. The corner count is also five to one in favour of Bournemouth, but the important stat is one-nil to United.

Second half
Lingard kicks off.  King gives Fraser an early run but as the ball comes back to King he is tackled by Matic.

Daniels comes forward and makes a good move with King but the move comes to nothing. Up the other end Lukaku gets to the byline but Begovic collects. Adam Smith has to watch Martial and despite a shove, the referee gives a goal kick.

Bournemouth are having trouble making the ball stick and getting their passes away. Martial crosses for Lukaku and Matic goes for a shot that is forced wide for a corner. Begovic comes for that and catches.

Adam Smith comes forwards and finds Fraser who goes for an early shot from distance but De Gea has it covered. Arter runs into one of his own players, but they both get up.

Fraser gets caught by Valencia but draws a foul. Lukaku is allowed to recover a ball in the corner despite looking miles offside. Francis gets a defensive header off and Begovic catches the ball before it goes off.

Valencia and Lingard link up. The shot from Lukaku shot is blocked. Matial on to Lukaku and Martial hits it over from six yards! Sixty minutes gone. Fraser is clobbered by McTominay.

Arter makes a poor challenge on Lingard but the referee plays on. The move breaks down. It's end to end now. Arter finally gets his yellow card.

Stanislas slides in on Luke Shaw. Martial comes off and Rashford joins the game on 66 minutes. Arter now wins a free kick. Stanislas now gets a corner off of Phil Jones. Mata clears.

Lingard slips just when Rashford did a nice pull back for him. Arter makes a sloppy pass and Bournemouth need Francis to clear their lines.

Wilson is subbed for Aoibe on 71 minutes and Stanislas is replaced by Defoe. Herrera then replaces Lingard.

United are on the charge and Smith clears. King and McTominay race for the ball. Now Rashford and he has smashed his shot against the cross bar! Arter is doing an enormous amount of running. Fraser to Defoe who shoots but its at De Gea and well saved.

Gosling loses the ball to Herrera. Afobe goes for a near post header and it's cleared for a corner. Man Utd win a free kick as Aké goes in on Phil Jones.

Lewis Cook replaces Dan Gosling on 77 minutes. King in the left over to Smith but it's cleared. Adam Smith puts a cross in but it's too high for Defoe. Lewis Cook find Afobe on the outside and Lewis Cook wins a corner off of Phil Jones. Just 10 minutes to go.

Francis crosses and Aké heads over. Bournemouth counter. King and Fraser, Adam Smith and Defoe's shot is saved by Defoe by the right post.

Luke Shaw is subbed for Ashley Young on 83 minutes. Defoe keeps the ball in and Bournemouth win a throw. Arter comes forward but he over runs it. United win a corner off of Daniels. Begovic makes the catch.

Bournemouth come forward. Daniels loses the ball though. Arter now, and Fraser, King and Daniels gets a corner. Fraser to take Young clears. Francis and Arter to Francis, but Afobe can only head it up into the air and De Gea claims the ball. King drives forward. Fraser to King and Daniels and Smalling clears.

Four minutes of added time for the Cherries. Aké and Fraser. Aké on the wing. Herrera makes the tackle.

Mata pulls the ball back to Lukaku and his shot is deflected by Aké's arm for a corner. Aké wins a free kick right on the edge of the box for a handball off Matic. Arter takes and Daniels passes to Fraser and his shot is straight at De Gea.

Bournemouth played excellently for large periods of this game and deserved a point, but it just wasn't to be. De Gea made a good number of saves and the Cherries will be disappointed they could not convert just one of their chances. But this will give the team much more confidence for the next match and is surely the best that AFCB have played this season. To not get a point though is tough when the lads played so well.

AFCB Ratings
Begovic 6, A Smith 6, Francis 7, Aké 7, Daniels 6, Stanislas 6, Gosling 6, Arter 7, Fraser 6, King 6, Wilson 6

MOM: Harry Arter

Boruc, S Cook, Surman, Afobe, L Cook, Defoe, Ibe

Man Utd
de Gea, A Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Matic, McTominay, Mata, Lingard, Martial, R Lukaku

Man Utd Subs
Romero, Lindelöf, Herrera, Ibrahimovic, Blind, Young, Rashford

Referee Watch Graham Scott 5/10 - Bournemouth are feeling a bit aggrieved the big teams get the decisions, but the referee did okay.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Bournemouth have to battle to get something in Manchester

The disappointment that Man Utd will have had from losing the Mancunian derby will be resonating all the way around Old Trafford. It is possibly the worst result that AFCB could have seen  before their trip to the Theatre of Dreams as United will be out to demolish everyone now to get back in the running for the title.
AFCB have seen the gap at the bottom close up,
but if they win at United they would shoot up the table.
But Bournemouth knew it would be a hard game no matter what the score line in United's last game. If United had won they would feel that momentum was with them. The early part of this game will be vital for the Cherries. Getting the nerves out the way will be important but Bournemouth have been defending well and this is a chance to lay down an even higher standard in that department and to try and keep a clean sheet against one of the best teams away from home.

The formation that I expect Eddie to pick would be a 3-5-2, as this is a formation that will make the Cherries competitive and will make it tough for United to find gaps while giving the Cherries a chance up front to keep moves going. The midfield area is where most of the action will be fierce and in the past Bournemouth have found possession always difficult against United. But Lewis Cook, Andrew Surman and Harry Arter are getting more used to playing together in such games, and if they can start to take possession away from a United team, without Pogba, we could see AFCB more in charge than usual.

I like the idea of having two up front as well as Defoe needs some help sometimes, even if he showed what he can do on his own against Crystal Palace. We have not see Afobe much this season, but I think this would be a good game for him to come in for not only as he can be a target man to help Defoe but he can also add height at set -pieces which could be very important if United start with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

It is going to be work rate and scrapping that we need to see form Bournemouth. Last season it was Mings who provided that and got stuck in. We need that from all 11 players again and if they do scrap well it will put a different complexion on the upcoming games in December that AFCB have.

Man Utd Home Form

AFCB Away Form

It's also Wigan Athletic in the 3rd Round of the Emirates FA Cup for Bournemouth in January, after Wigan got passed non-league AFC Flyde 3-2 in last night's second round replay.

AFCB may as well stick two up front at Old Trafford

Eddie Howe has stated that he will rotate in the next few games as the December period is very busy and games come thick and fast. But how many players he rests and pulls into and out of the starting line up is going to be anyone's guess. At the moment the team is picking up points and the team spirit from the last match was certainly strong so he won't want to chop and change too much yet  I suggest.
Could Afobe or Wilson partner Defoe and will Arter
come back into the starting  line up at Old Trafford?
The first thing we must consider is the formation Howe will want to play. While Adam Smith is now available again, he may not want to play four at the back as Bournemouth have played best against Man City and Spurs, for example, when playing 3-5-2. I believe this is the option he may go with in many of these big games coming up. That would mean dropping one of the defenders from the last match and on form it would most likely be Simon Francis by my reckoning, as he had a poor game up against Zaha and did not have his passing radar hat on to put it mildly.

Midfield could also then be boosted with an extra man and Harry Arter is surely the player that will come into the manager's thoughts having heard what he said about Harry wanting to get his place back in the side. Arter will be fresh having not been involved in the last two games and should have some energy which is what his game has been lacking. While I don't see a need to change Stanislas or Fraser, it is possible that he could decide one should be rested from the starting line up. I don't expect him to do that though.

Possible AFCB Line up versus Man Utd
AFCB Subs: Boruc (GK), A Smith (RD), Francis (CD), Gosling (CM), Ibe (RM),
King (FW), C Wilson (FW).
I do have an inkling that while he will keep Defoe up front for his sharpness in front of goal, he could choose the Man Utd game to rest Josh King and play Benik Afobe as the big man would give Bournemouth a big target to try and hold the ball up field. Defoe and Afobe would be the big/little man act that would be intriguing. King has not scored for a couple of games and could be saved for the Liverpool home match. Afobe just hasn't been playing and if he wants a chance he has to take this type of chance, if it is offered. It would be hard on Callum Wilson, but I think Wilson will be used more towards the end of December depending on the form of Defoe in particular.

AskFans' Match Preview Man Utd v AFCB
AskFans' Match report AFCB v Southampton

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Can Bournemouth step it up against United?

While pundits have already been mulling over the ruins of Man Utd's title hopes after the 11 point gap has opened up at the top, it won't make Bournemouth's visit to Old Trafford any easier. The Cherries have to up their performance in all areas and I'm tempted to suggest that the club really need to find something extra this month, so why can't it start at Old Trafford?
Bournemouth will have to find more improvement for Wednesday night's game.
Eddie Howe is always stressing that AFCB have to play well and that is the first and most important factor in the side getting any result. Yes, United have suffered a setback in their title ambitions, but they are not suddenly in disarray over losing one game. Eddie Howe must get his players concentrating in their jobs and believing that if they play positively they will be rewarded. There has been much mutterings about not getting decisions and being in the wrong end of decisions, both with United and Bournemouth and it is an easy excuse to make. But winning teams don't need excuses and perhaps Eddie needs to drill that into his players so that they are not looking for things to go against them but are expecting to see things go their way.

If Bournemouth can start with that kind of mentality, they will start expecting for things to come off for them and when they do it should spur them on further. It would also impose pressure on United who will be trying to recover from the weekend's result, and perhaps they will still be thinking of that more than the task at hand. The best way Mourhino can get around that is to change a number of his players so I'm hoping he keeps more or less the same 11 that tripped up at the weekend.

Bournemouth have not beaten a top 10 side this season, but they have not been embarrassed either. Now we are looking for something extra. A big performance and a lot of character. These games are massive for Bournemouth and probably run-of-the-mill in Man Utd's eyes, but it's up to AFCB to make themselves more of a fixture for observers in matches like this and they need to leave the pitch knowing that they have given everything. Step it up AFCB - UTCIAD!

Apologies for not getting a Rival Lines for this game. I hounded five or six United bloggers but I am assuming they are still licking their wounds after that derby defeat! 

Can quick starting Cherries re-emerge?

I have mentioned before that Bournemouth have been slow starters this season and it has taken until the 16th game of the season for AFCB to pick up their first goal in the opening 10 minutes of a game, so are we getting back to seeing the Bournemouth of last season re-emerging?
Slow starting Cherries may have turned the corner.
I am probably not alone in feeling that there has been a spark missing in some of Bournemouth's game in recent months. Yet, at Crystal Palace the aggression and energy to win was more evident from the first whistle. I believe some of that energy was transmitted from the away fans and their singing and it must affect the players to see such big numbers in the stands behind the team.

AFCB are unlikely to have so many fans at Old Trafford and this will be a test, as it will be more down to the players to create an atmosphere that gives them a foothold in the game. If they can make some good early challenges and win some early possession they'll soon be trying to work out how they can hurt United. But they need that quick start and last season at Old Trafford there were several chances for Mourhino's team to score before Bournemouth got settled.

Against a team like United, you can't just look to defend all game. Bournemouth would give them something to think about if they can come out and get an early goal. It did not do Newcastle much good when they did exactly that a few weeks ago, but if the action is all at Bournemouth's end in the first 20 minutes we have seen that the Cherries find it difficult to find any rhythm or get their style of game going.  

Even against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth did not really fully click and needed a training ground set-piece to get ahead, as well as a bit of unfair play by Josh King. It wasn't as if the Cherries were cutting Crystal palace apart and that kind of creativity is still in short supply. Playing on the break should suit this Bournemouth side, but they need to do better at getting strikers in on goal and making shots count.

Stanislas and Fraser tend to be the most direct wide men in the Bournemouth ranks and when they do get early crosses in during the opening period it can undo teams. That is where Bournemouth must get the ball early on, but can they do against a team as strong as United?

Monday, 11 December 2017

Begovic will thrive on penalty save

Much has been made of the penalty decisions that Kevin Friend gave at Selhurst Park but there was one man who was going to be involved for both penalty kicks in Bournemouth's goal. Asmir Begovic was having a busy day. He was not going to be in a calm frame of mind for the first penalty, having been carded and annoyed with the decision, but he certainly was focussed for the Benteke penalty.
Asmir is likely to have a busy December, but he couldn't be in better form.
Benteke was eager to get himself on the score sheet and he was on a hiding to nothing to take the penalty in the first place. Had he scored nothing would have been said about his decision to take the kick, but Palace fans should be aware, he did not miss, he had his shot saved. Some times you can take a penalty with out enormous conviction and get a goal, but you have to be confident and wrong foot the keeper. Begovic was staring the ball down and was confident he could get near to Benteke's kick, and yet he will have been nervous having already not been able to save one penalty.

It was a heroic moment for Begovic. When he looks back on what he has done he will feel that he got his team out of a hole, and no doubt Eddie Howe and his team-mates are most grateful to him. Daniels will be the most relieved player, but such incidents just bring the team together and get them focussed on how important every point is.

Bournemouth are now unbeaten in their last four away games having last been beaten away at Wembley. There is a greater determination about the team currently not to lose games and that is going to be vital going into these next few big games. Begovic will be needed more than usual we might expect, but his form is at a leave that is right up their and he can feel confident that he is going to make saves against some of the biggest teams in the division and possible earn AFCB some more points at a crucial time of the season.

A Defoe finishing masterclass - at last

Jermain has always been a classy player but he really did make Palace fans sick with is finishing at Selhurst Park. He may have been fortunate to be allowed to keep his first goal in the game which was his 200th in the Premier League, but his 201st goal was just sublime.
We knew Defoe had it in him to find some special goals.
I am so pleased for Jermain that he is starting score goals again. He is a player that really does get in a zone when he starts to score goals and I just hope this is the start of a golden spell for him. The move to get Bournemouth ahead was an excellent training ground move and it did make a mockery of the game being a spontaneous event when the move had been orchestrate to such a high extent. But that is what set-pieces are for and to carry out four of five passes that have been drilled on the practise pitch perfectly, while dragging players in to spaces they don't need to go into is all very clever and Bournemouth have proved a few times that the can come up with some special moves to create goal scoring opportunities. No matter what is said about the way Josh King created the space by holding back Schlupp, Defoe still had to finish the move and he put his shot away with great accuracy in the corner.

It gave him that feeling that goals were flowing again and it wasn't long before he was chancing his luck. There was no doubt that he meant his second goal and you have to credit Lewis Cook with deicing to play a long ball forward to get Defoe running early, which is something we have not seen enough of this season. Jermain is always a hunter looking for a chance to score and to be given a ball to run on to is just food and drink to him. He did have a glance across to see where Speroni was and to unleash the precision volleyed lob that he created had not only Scott Dann but Speroni as well just looking aghast at what Defoe had just done. It also sucked the life out of the Palace fans, who had still been celebrating their second goal.

We now need Defoe to keep this goal spell going. He is the most experienced striker in the Bournemouth squad and I think it is important that he plays in the majority of the games coming up against the big teams, even if Defoe wants to rotate some of the players. When you have the quality that Defoe has and he's scoring you don't rest him.

Cherry Chimes' on the Daily Mail Fans' Verdict Crystal Palace 2 v 2 Bournemouth

ASKFans' match Report Crystal Palace 2 v 2 AFCB

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Bournemouth pay the penalty - twice!

You want  to get the decisions when your team is involved with penalty claims at either end but my mind always expects a negative outcome in such cases when AFCB are involved, and they certainly did not get any joy from having Zaha seeking to influence decision's Palace's way. Still, Bournemouth for their first goal and I guess things were all equal in the end with a 2-2 scoreline.
A good job that Begovic practised a few of these pre-match.
It is not often you get two penalty claims against your team in a game and Kevin Friend will not be popular next time he turns up in front of Bournemouth fans. I do give him credit for seeking  the attention of the assistant referee on the second penalty claim, but I'm not sure that the assistant referee told Kevin Friend anything he did not already know. At the time, I felt the second penalty was the most likely to be not given as Daniels rarely mis-times his tackles, and made what I thought was a valid attempt to get the ball. Replays show that he did touch Zaha's foot on the way to the ball, but I still felt Zaha was looking for the option to go over if Daniels made a challenge.
The replays show that the first penalty was perhaps even lees of a penalty. Begovic I thought had put his arms out and caught Zaha on his way through. But look at that incident back on replay and we see that Zaha had already been going down before he actually ran into Begovic's arms to make the contact. It is very hard to call such decisions these days as players want to win penalties and referees are under so much pressure to get the decision right. Another annoying aspect of this penalty though was that Begovic picked up another yellow card.

It was a real kick in the teeth though to also see the very last minute shot of the game from Wilson being blocked by Schlupp's arms and the referee didn't even give it a second's thought, as he had already made his mind up that he was blowing for full time.

A point at Palace is hard when every tackle is a penalty!

Match Report
Crystal Palace 2 v 2 AFCB
9 December 2017
Attendance: 24,823

AFCB take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
What a strange game this was. Bournemouth were well in control when a swiftly taken corner move from the training ground led to a clear shot for Jermain Defoe to open the scoring, and even when Wilfried Zaha was running at Bournemouth's defence Palace did not look like scoring. Unfortunately. Begovic wanted to make sure and Zaha won the penalty to get Palace in the game, while a second Palace goal from Scott Dann, who else - he always scores against AFCB - should have given Palace a half time lead, but Defoe's remarkable lofted chip made it 2-2 at the break. Bournemouth looked to have secured a point in injury time, but Zaha was up to his old tricks and Daniels almost lost the game with a last ditch tackle on him. Justice was done though when a greedy Benteke took the spot kick and Begovic saved it t leave the score 2-2.  
The Christmas spirit was going well at Selhurst Park
until the penalties started to get awarded.
Bournemouth only made one change with Steve Cook replacing the suspended Adam Smith, while Harry Artur made it back on the bench. 

Crystal Palace made three changes with Ward, Kelly ad McCarthy dropping out of the starting line up and Fosu-Mensah, Cabaye and Tomkins coming into the team.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.
Bournemouth and Crystal Palace go all out for a win. 
Bournemouth were under pressure from the start with Jeffrey Schlupp firing over from distance. Benteke then had a chance at the near post but headed wide. 

Defoe did his best to get a header just wide of the target from a right wing cross, but after some good work from King to win a corner Defoe would get another chance. This time Surman took it short to Stanislas who played it back for Surman to pick out a centrally -laced Defoe who slotted past Seproni from about 12 yards to make it one-nil on 10 minutes. Josh King had illegally held Schlupp back from making a challenge but the referee had not seen and nor had I at the time.

Palace were undeterred with Benteke forcing a save from Begovic off his knew, before Aké made a strong block from Townsend. From the Palace corner Sakho missed almost a sitter on the line with Surman in attendance, but Bournemouth scrambled the ball away. 

King was working hard and almost got to Sakho at the back. Cabaye then made a great tackle on Defoe to deny him a striking chance when he was almost through. Sakho had played Defoe onside, because he was injured and had to be replaced by Scott Dann on 25 minutes. 
Tomkins then fouled King and picked up a yellow card. Tomkins later had a shot from distance that went wide, even if the offside should have gone up earlier. Milivojevic then went in the book for chopping Fraser down. Stanislas almost broke through but Speroni came out quickly to deny a chance. Stanislas did get a shot off a moment later but it was deflected right at the keeper. 

The game to a big turn when a long ball was headed on by Benteke to Zaha to chase. While Akee looked to have got across, Begovic came out to make sure and Zaha went down. A penalty was awarded and Milivojevic stuck it away. Zaha left his leg trailing and looked like he was already going down before Begovic made contact.

It was only three minutes later when the game changed completely and a Palace corner  was kept alive by Benteke and then Cabaye who put a low cross in from the right and Scott Dann popped up at the far post to make it 2-1.

Bournemouth were rocked but as half time approached Lewis Cook put a speculative ball forward from half way towards Defoe who not only get their first, ahead of Scott Dann, but with one bounce looped his shot over Speroni and in to the top left corner to make it 2-2. It was an absolute beauty!
Half time dancing at Palace.
Second half
Bournemouth came out early and they soon had Palace on the back foot with Surman hitting a shot at Speroni. But Begovic soon also had to make a save from Rubens Loftus-Cheek.

Stanislas was starting to see more of the ball and had a shot deflected. He then found Defoe who shot wide just in front of Dann. Bournemouth were not getting the decisions at this point.

Howe changed things to bring Ibe on for Stanislas on 65 minute and Palace too Cabaye off and brought McArthur on. Ibe did his usual in running into trouble straight away, but a few moments later he had his head down and drilled a fierce shot that Speroni could only push away.

Lewis Cook then clipped Zaha and the Palace forward lost his cool and went for Lewis Cook. It was a yellow for Zaha.

Palace were getting closer when Benteke headed a free kick on to Scott Dann who shot over from six yards. Townsend was then subbed for Sakho to come on with 12 minutes to go. Ibe was fouled by McArthur who got booked before Callum Wilson replaced Defoe with 10 minutes left.

Benteke was then booked for a foul on Lewis Cook. Palace were still mounting a challenge and Loftus-Cheek has a low shot saved by Begovic at his left post. Ibe made a terrible mistake playing the ball back towards the D when he could have cleared, but Milivojevic finally put the chance wide.

Afobe replaced King for the last three minutes. The passing became more erratic and with five minutes of added time it was Bournemouth that were hanging on. A long ball up to Zaha had Steve Cook back peddling and while he blocked a first shot from the number 11, Daniels came in with a stronger challenge to put the ball out for what looked like a corner, but Kevin Friend pointed to the spot. I couldn't believe it and nor could the Bournemouth players as Daniels looked to have made a clean attempt to get the ball. Yet, on Match of the Day's replay we did see that Daniels had touched Zaha's foot first.

Benteke was not the appointed penalty taker but he stepped up anyway having not scored all season. So it was something he'll have to explain when he saw his spot kick saved by Begovic, low to his right.

Bournemouth were not finished. They even had a shout for a penalty themselves after Wilson tried to get a shot off in the box and Schlupp had his hands up that blocked the shot.
Match line up for AFCB.
Palace possibly deserved one penalty, but two was a rather fortunate for them. Bournemouth's players were adamant that neither should have been a penalty kick, but you are not going to win every decision when you make last ditch challenges in the box. Zaha knows to go down when he feels the challenge and he was impressive in playing the victim. But Bournemouth's defenders know he would do that, and getting into those situations in the first place is the thing that should concern Howe. Still, Bournemouth showed some good moments and Defoe finally showed us how he is a goalscorer that only needs a slight chance to get his goals. While three points would have been handy from this game, it is a good point against an improving Palace side.

AFCB escape with a draw.
Bournemouth players surround the referee after the match.
AFCB Ratings
Begovic 8, Francis 5, S Cook 6, Aké 6, Daniels 6, Fraser 6, L Cook 7, Surman 7, Stanislas 6, King 7, Defoe 9

Crystal Palace
Speroni, Fosu-Mensah, Tomkins, Sakho (Dann), Schlupp, Townsend (Sako), Cabaye (McArthur), Milivojevic (Loftus-Cheek), Zaha, Benteke

Palace Subs

Hennessey, van Aanholt, Dann, McArthur, Sako, Kelly, Puncheon

Referee Watch: Kevin Friend 2/10 - Far too many free kicks and penalties awarded. It was a well contested game but seven yellow cards was excessive and players were winning free kicks for just hitting the ground - unfortunately, Zaha did most of his falling over in AFCB's penalty box.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

What's the best way to get at Crystal Palace?

Bournemouth take on Crystal Palace knowing that a win could push the Cherries well up the table, and yet the Eagles know they have to improve their home record if they are to get out of their situation. Much of Palace's problems have been of their own making. But they are starting to get it together and under Roy Hodgson they are getting their belief back.
Is time up on Crystal Palace's Premier League journey?
The first thing Bournemouth will aim to do is stop Wilfried Zaha from terrorising them. He is the quality in Palace's team and keeping him quite is not going to be down to one Bournemouth player but several. But shackling Zaha alone won't be enough. Yohan Cabaye is another player who can find gas and the crosses of Townsend are just perfect for Christian Benteke if he times his runs well. The aerial battle is something that I expect Hodgson to target, and it is as well that Steve Cook is likely to come back into the Bournemouth side. Bournemouth will need all the height they have it's just a shame that Tyrone Mings is not ready yet to play. We know how good Scott Dann is in the air as well and even if Crystal Palace find it hard to play fluent football they will get set-pieces.

So Bournemouth have to defend well and this season we have seen them improve at keeping set-pieces out. The form of Nathan Aké and the catching ability of Begovic has added some security, but even in recent games some of the defensive headed clearances went virtually know where in Bournemouth's own box. Clearing the lines was a problem all right and it led to Charlie Austin's equaliser, so the Cherries need to do some work on that.

I also believe that Bournemouth will get chances though against this Palace defence that has let in 25 goals from 15 games. But from their last five games, Palace have only conceded four goals. So, there is improvement there for the Eagles.

Meanwhile, AFCB are not scoring goals in any great quantities away from home. The best away result remains the 1-2 away win at Stoke. Getting a second goal in an away match has been a rare event and Bournemouth need to see a sharper and more aggressive desire to get goals than they have been showing if they want to win games.

Possible AFCB line up for Crystal Palace game.
AFCB Subs: Boruc, Simpson, Gosling, Ibe, Pugh, Afobe, C Wilson

Friday, 8 December 2017

Are Crystal Palace on the up?

I am a bit anxious that the feel good factor is re-emerging at Crystal Palace. This last week they have climbed to 18th in the table with a draw against WBA and talk of a new expanded Selhurst Park stadium befitting of a Premier League club.

AFCB go to Selhurst Park this Saturday.
Their problem is will they play well enough this season to retain their status? Well, Palace are past masters at picking up points when they have to. The win they had against Chelsea is proof that they are a far better team than their position shows in the table and while it hasn't all been going well for them this season with the earliest managerial sacking in Premier League history, Roy Hodgson has them organised again and playing on the front foot.

Where they still have a weakness is surely in defence. Patrick van Aanholdt is still getting used to the English game having gone on loads of loans and struggling at Smderland before his move to Palace, Mamadou Sakho has not been as influential as he was at the end of last season, while Scott Dann has been out of form and Jeffrey Schlupp is still making his way at the club. Hodgson will make them more settled though at the back and if he gets the foundation right back there, we know that they have pace and skill in abundance further forward.
Wilfiried Zaha and Andros Townsend could fit into many Premier League sides and the big man Christian Benteke is back now, even if he is not in goalscoring form yet. Jason Puncheon is now the captain and no doubt he has been feeling the pressure with the start the Eagles have made.

I think palace just need to play games to improve now. They have strong players in Rubens Loftus-Cheek and Yohan Cabaye in the middle and once they get an understanding of each others game they should pick up. But a set back now could really hinder their progress and of course do wonders for AFCB. It's a big game in how the bottom six might unfold and Eddie Howe has to get this across to his players without making them frightened of going out and playing their best football. Crystal Palace are on the up but AFCB can do something about that.

Crystal Palace Home Form

AFCB Away Form