Thursday, 22 February 2018

Should King start with Wilson up front?

Eddie Howe will have a few decisions to make in his team selection and having had a week in warmer weather with the team he will have had a good look at his forward options. Callum Wilson has bravely led the line for a run of games in December and January and Josh King is fit again and has been getting back to his best, while Lys Mousset is trying to get more minutes as well.

Would Josh King have more success in a 4-4-1-1 system?
Wilson's last goal came against Chelsea and since then he has been finding it hard to get into games from what I can see. The last minute chance he had against Stoke City still sticks on the mind, but up at Huddersfield when he wanted to impress Gareth Southgate there was little he could do to make any impression. I don't think Callum has lost any of his form particularly but he just needs to get a goal to give him a bit of confidence.

Josh King is going to want to be starting games but the system that Howe has been playing with Wilson up front and Stanislas and Fraser on the wings has not been open to a second striker. King could play wide but he is not as affective for me when he is forced out wide and his strength is his finishing, so AFCB need to get him in front of goal whenever they can. King did get a goal more recently in the last home match against Stoke and then he was on the left, but playing him there does make it hard to fit Fraser in his favoured position and Fraser has been the one supplying the majority of assists of late.

Meanwhile, Lys Mousset still finds himself third choice and it is going to be hard for him to find away into the starting line up unless he can make a habit of scoring when he comes on in games. News this week suggests that Jermain Defoe is also on his way back so if he has trained well, Mousset may have company on the bench to push him down to the fourth option, which is hard on him having been the hero last home game. It is all about who is going to stick the chances away though now, and the choice Howe makes could make the difference between AFCB cementing their place in the top 10 or having real scrap just to stay in the league.

If King were to start with Wilson up front we would see a change in formation back to a 4-4-1-1 line up and it would be great to know whether AFCB have been working on this system again over in Portugal.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Fraser is already on a par with Ritchie

Like many AFCB fans I was a bit sad when Matt Ritchie left the club for Newcastle Utd. That was more a homage of what he had done for Bournemouth since his arrival in League One days and his hard work rate. Ritchie was always AFCB's flare player and he held that mantle with great distinction during his time at the club and I'll always think fondly of him, but given a choice today to have Matt Ritchie or Ryan Fraser in AFCB's squad and I'm more than delighted that Eddie Howe still has the Wee-man under his tutelage.
Ryan Fraser has grown in stature this season.
The visit of Newcastle Utd will bring Matt Ritchie back to Dean Court in a playing respect for the first time since his departure, even though he played against AFCB earlier in the season at St James' Park. I that game Ritchie was arguably Newcastle's best player and he rattled AFCB's defence more than once, even if he did not score. Now he will be keener than ever to get a goal or more and help the Toon Army close the gap on the Cherries and other teams above them, and we know that Ritchie has the ability to win games like he did against Man Utd recently.

Still, AFCB have their own match-winners and the performances of Ryan Fraser this season have been amongst the best he has played for the club. I seriously think he is already challenging the legacy of Matt Ricthie in an AFCB shirt and he has shown that he is also becoming a fine player in different positions. Ryan is one of the most exciting players at AFCB and he just continues getting better. Even during the defeat against Huddersfield he provided the cross that enabled Junior Stanislas to score. His assist and goal record have been on an upward trajectory with two assist and four goals this season in the Premier league. Matt Ritchie has five assists and one goal.

It's all about producing for Ryan Fraser and he is not afraid to take the responsibility to shoot, while he is also happy to play in defence if called upon. If he can develop into a complete player he will be well on his way to becoming AFCB's Scottish legend and that story could be enhanced by a goal or two against Newcastle this coming weekend, which could be a timely reminder to Alex McLeish that Scotland can't afford to do without Ryan Fraser. 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Bournemouth's real problem is not enough great defenders

Eddie Howe may not ever want to change his playing style, but the time is fast approaching for him to really see what is available in the market for top class defenders this summer. If the Cherries thought that by signing Nathan Aké all there defensive problems would disappear, they are finding out that one top class defender can't save them every game.
There is no doubt that Nathan Aké is heading towards
being a world class defender, but Bournemouth need a few more like him.
The Huddersfield result was a big disappointment. It wasn't so much a painful experience because AFCB lost their unbeaten record, but more about the sloppy goals conceded. Simon Francis was exposed as a defender who is now struggling at this level and Steve Cook simply makes one misplaced pass too many at times, which must annoy Eddie Howe as much as the fans.

But who does Eddie turn to when it's not going well at the back? Can he throw Jack Simpson on and ignore the Premier League experience that the others have built up? Does he go to a back four with Adam Smith on the right? What he could do with is having a fully fit Tyrone Mings or a Brad Smith who played like he had been a first choice for Liverpool. Instead Howe's hands are tied. He has to work with what he has and at the moment the defence is still the weakest part of his team and it's been that way for three seasons in the Premier League.
In previous years, Eddie has had a defender with a solid amount of experience to share with the team. He has had Ian Harte, Sylvain Distin and Marc Wilson who have done the miles and been in teams that have experienced tough times. But this season there are no experienced men to come on at the back unless Howe wants to change his keeper. Daniels and Francis are the oldest defenders at the club and along with Steve Cook should have built up the necessary experience to deal with most games in the Premier League, but they are still being found out a bit too often and Eddie's priority this summer must be to find another great defender or even two. 

Monday, 19 February 2018

Francis won't want to slow down at 33

Last week Simon Francis celebrated his 33rd birthday and Eddie Howe was pleased to highlight the key role that the defender has had in shaping wins for the team since joining the club in AFCB's league One days. Then it was season after season that Francis was rightly made the fans' choice for player of the season, but it hasn't been as easy for him in the team this season.
Simon Francis has been struggling to find form but Eddie Howe is
sure Francis continues to be a valuable member of the squad and a great captain.
Many will be saying that Francis is not the player he was and it's true that he can't make those amazing right wing runs from right back and has had to be adaptable to play more as a central defender. But he will know he has made mistakes and will want to play better not only to play the captain's role, but just to prove he has the same desire he has always had to lead the side to wins. It was a stunning stat I heard that AFCB have not won a Premier League game without Francis in the team, and it kind of knocks those who point the finger at Francis for some of the defeats. I can't explain the stat as the team should be capable of winning games without their captain, but it does make you think that what will happen when the time comes when Francis is not able to force his way into the team?

It was a transition for the team when Tommy Elphick left the club and when Simon Francis hangs up his boots the change may be more difficult for the squad to get used to. The senior members of the squad are the pillars of a team and with Simon Francis and Andrew Surman entering the later years of there playing careers there will have to be some new blood brought in and Eddie Howe has to decide when that is going to be. It could be as early as this summer, but I don't feel that Francis is ready to stop playing yet and will want a fourth season in the Premier League. Still, he may find it harder to play quite so many games in the future.

The disciplinary record that Francis has had is not so great and he is now just one yellow card away from picking up 10 this season. Whether this is a case of Francis losing a bit of his speed and timing his tackles not as well rather than anything else will be a cause for concern. We know Eddie Howe will be as loyal as he can to his players and will always give Francis a fair crack at keeping his place in the team, but Francis has now got to do all he can to keep his performance levels high as people are going to point towards his age when things don't go well. It's unfair and it's human nature, but just like when payers are viewed as being too young to play, it can be more of a battle to get in the team each week. 

Francis has been a player that has been top class for AFCB and he deserves the plaudits for what he has achieved, but he will know himself when he has to slow down and will know what his body can do. I hope that his 34th year gives him even more to smile about.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Was Huddersfield game just just a blip?

Eddie Howe will be hoping that the Huddersfield defeat was a one-off but the magnitude of the defeat means that his side has to come from a long way back now mentally to get into a more positive mood for the next game. While away from has been impressive, it is questionable whether AFCB were either over confident or simply short of energy in this match against Huddersfield.
AFCB need to get back on form at home.

From what I saw, I thought the will was there but not the energy. It was clear that when Bournemouth played Chelsea a few weeks ago they were a much stronger side having enjoyed a good rest and Eddie Howe must now find the same kind of preparation for the Cherries next game against Newcastle. Having a long period between game gives the players not only time to rest but time to reflect. They will know why they didn't perform at Huddersfield and that they have now put more pressure on themselves for the next game. It may be that the defeat to Huddersfield will give AFCB more of a kick that they need to get them hungry for more points, but the feeling at the moment is that the performance against Huddersfield was well  below the levels that it should have been.

We know that the reaction now is very important. If Bournemouth don't turn it on at home they will be almost within range of the bottom three again and it will be a much more nervy place to be around Dean Court if the blip turns into a slide. At the moment, one game is nothing to get too worried about, but Eddie Howe has to address the weak performance at Huddersfield and find a new invigorated AFCB side for their next few games.

AFCB will hope the Portuguese sun will improve the mood and find a bit of comfort in this rest period. They don't want to see all their hard work in getting into the top half of the table suddenly be taken away from them again.

Ask Fans' match report Huddersfield v AFCB

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Eddie Howe gets January Manager of the Month gong

I suspect some of you are thinking it is about time that Eddie Howe landed the Premier League's Manager of the month award again - the previous one came in March 2017. Well, he has done it and with three years of experience in the Premier League almost complete, he can be pleased with his record to date at this level with the funds and players at his disposal.
Eddie Howe can be pleased with his work in January.
January was a great month for the Cherries with wins against Arsenal and Chelsea as well as draws against Brighton and West Ham Utd, but we did have a disappointment in the FA Cup. So, critics will say things aren't quite perfect yet at AFCB, and it's good to have a can do better tag never too far away to keep progress going forward. But, I can see that Eddie Howe doesn't see the job as being anywhere near complete yet at AFCB. It has been a difficult season so far, and even with a strong January the Cherries still have work to do to keep themselves away from the relegation zone.

Hopefully, the Huddersfield defeat will soon be a distant memory. It is probably at the end of the season when Eddie Howe will give himself a brief moment to look back on January with some satisfaction, but for now it's all about Newcastle Utd and working out how to get back to winning. The pressure on Eddie Howe is never diminished even when he is doing well and in a way I'm quite pleased when he doesn't get talked about too much or pick up awards, because with so few English managers in the top flight he is automatically always linked with being the next great English manager for a top four club or the England job and I'm always quietly pleased when the media talk about Sean Dyche instead.

Well, Eddie has a second Premier League's Manager of the Month trophies on his desk now and I hope he looks at them, if ever he needs to feel good about himself, because he makes us feel good about AFCB pretty much every weekend.

Friday, 16 February 2018

AFCB England hopefuls may rue Huddersfield performance

It is not that clear who Gareth Southgate wanted to watch above all others at the Huddersfield game. If he wanted to see AFCB operating well though he was going to be disappointed. I wonder how much a manger can take from watching one game anyway and how does he know which game to pick to see a player at their best or worst? 
Has Lewis Cook missed his chance?
Well, if Gareth was watching Lewis Cook in midfield he may have gone away thinking that this was not the best match to see what Lewis can do, or he may have gone away thinking I see how he plays now when his team is behind and are finding it hard to get back into a game. Just because Bournemouth lost the game doesn't mean Gareth necessarily left with a negative attitude about a player. Still, it is human nature for players to be excited when they know someone like the England manager is at the game and that they have a chance to impress upon him if only for 90 minutes.

If Southgate was hoping to add some defensive options to his England squad he may have been less than impressed by four goals conceded by the Cherries. Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels have never managed to catch the international eye yet, and I suppose Bournemouth players are unlikely to get even the merest of looks if they can't start working towards more clan sheets.

The other possibility from a Bournemouth point of view could be that Gareth wanted to see whether Callum Wilson was worth revisiting. Callum has at least been scoring a few goals and Huddersfield had been a team that he had always done well against. Gareth will have seen the energy and running that Callum put in on an afternoon when not a lot fell for him but I'm not sure it would have told him anymore or less about Callum. 

Strikers are always going to be noticed if they score though on a regular basis and while Callum had a quiet game he has 11 games now to try and get his name up on the scoreboard as many times as possible. Hopefully, he and Lewis Cook can look past the Huddersfield defeat and look forward to the games to come as their chance may not have totally disappeared yet.

In other news, Eddie Howe is named Premier League Manager of the Month for January 2018!