Thursday, 10 August 2017

Lewis Cook can use his Napoli experience for the good

One of the players that is likely to have learnt the most from the Napoli experience is Lewis Cook. It would have been easy to put Arter and Surman in against the likes of Napoli to counter the experience in the Italian side, but Eddie Howe really gave youth its chance in picking Lewis Cook to play alongside Dan Gosling. It gives me the indication that Howe sees the group of central midfield players really starting to push each other, and even if Lewis does not get an automatic start in August he could well be on the way to a breakthrough season.
Can Lewis Cook build on his great summer with a big Premier League season?
Lewis can really set his own goals this season. The tremendous summer he has had should propel him nearer to Arter and Surman and the game against Napoli saw him under pressure not only for having less time to think, but also to make safe passes under pressure. He was also having to keep pace with the Napoli attack and midfield who were on top of their game in finding Insigne in space. It took time for Gosling and Cook to find a way to clamp down on the Napoli possession, but they got there and started to feed Gradel in particular with early balls to stretch his legs.

While Lewis found it hard to get many strikes away himself, he did fire a solid shot that just went wide in the second half. He is a player who likes to shoot and he will improve quickly if he can get gains against better teams. Now Eddie Howe is being more questioning of Lewis and telling him to play his game against these strong sides. The manager can only have been impressed by the second half against Napoli when Bournemouth were keeping the ball better and Lewis was a central part of that.

Although I still feel Lewis has more to come in his game, he is now beginning to pluck unexpected passes to forward players with more regularity and accuracy. It's not clear what Howe wants him to do better, to edge ahead of Arter and Surman, but the gap has closed somewhat and if Lewis plays more games against the likes of Spurs and Man City this coming season, he will be able to draw on the performances like this one against Napoli that should tell him he is ready for these big challenges.

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