Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The old guard of Surman and Arter are forced out for once

The fans have been calling for it since day one of this season. Bournemouth's midfield needed rejuvenating last summer but the central positions for Harry Arter and Andrew Surman have been nailed on and it seemed that nothing would break their dominance. So it as a big surprise to see Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook being told to perform against Arsenal while the old guard had a day off.
Harry Arter watches on from the sidelines against Arsenal.
I can see why Howe has been loyal to his experienced central midfielders. It is true that Bournemouth would not be in the Premier League without the presence of mind that Surman has or the tenacious attitude of Harry Arter in the middle of the park, but sometimes a team needs a change and while I fully expect the old guard to come back at some stage, it is no longer the case that Surman and Arter have a free pass to play games, and that has to be good for the team that they have finally come under threat.
Surman has time to reflect on his recent performances,
 but will no doubt be trying to get AFCB through to
the fourth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night..
Lewis Cook has time to grow into a true great at Bournemouth and he could be at the very start of a career hat may make him an England regular. But it will be important to see if he can hold off the challenges to the staring position he now has, and if his keen eye for assists will bring him more games.

Meanwhile, Dan Gosling has just kept getting better. He was all over Jack Wilshere like a rash on Sunday and was I am sure a real annoyance for Wilshere. But Gosling also breaks play up extremely well, and I lost count of how many times he got a foot in to stop Arsenal on the attack. He was an excellent shield and I felt he helped Steve Cook and Nathan Ake to have relatively quiet games.
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The thrust and vigour of Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling in the centre has given fresh impetuous to the side and  now it's up to others to better them. But for once, I don't see Arter and Surman finding it easy to dislodge the new incumbents who must be favourites to star again next Saturday against West Ham.

Monday, 15 January 2018

New formation gave AFCB added spark

Bournemouth attacked Arsenal with a formation that was a bit different from usual. We have seen the three at the back, but to play Ryan Fraser and Jordan Ibe to the sides of Callum Wilson was a bit of genius thinking that saw Bournemouth get the bast out of Ibe and Fraser.
Jordan Ibe after the win against Arsenal.
For once Callum Wilson didn't looked as isolated as he might against a big team like Arsenal. He had his hands full with the challenges he was getting from Arsenal's central defenders, but he was prepared to battle hard to win possession and bring others into play. The energy of Ibe in particular was great to see as he was prepared to attack on either side and it is becoming clear that Ibe is a player that is perhaps best when he is not boxed into one area of the pitch, but is allowed to create and pick up possession in more central positions. It only works if he doesn't give the ball away cheaply, but both he and Fraser worked hard when Arsenal did have the ball and the press was superbly employed form the front to unnerve Arsenal on several occasions.

It was this hustling of Arsenal's back line that got Bournemouth playing better. The game seems so much more easy when you are winning back possession quickly and the speed at which Arsenal defenders found themselves pressured on the ball was not something that Wengerl's players found easy to deal with.
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Whether this system is one that we see used again may depend on the personnel. What works for Ibe, Fraser and Wilson might not be so good for Stanislas and King and yet there is much for Howe to consider about this kind of three-pronged attack. What also helped was the play of Adam Smith who might well have run the most on the day, but his quick passes and movement were great for unlocking players and letting Bournemouth run at defenders.

It was noticeable that Bournemouth attacked very much up the wings and not through the middle of the pitch in the first half, and it must have been a plan that width was the best way to get at Arsenal. This formation made the most of that and it did help get the result in the second half.

Cherry Chimes' AskFans report on AFCB 2 v 1 Arsenal

Bournemouth beat a biggie - Arsenal gunned down 2-1

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 1 Arsenal
14 January 2018
Attendance: 10,836

Oh my! If 2018 is going to continue like this, teams had better watch out for the Cherries' second half fight and their impressive tenacity to rattle the establishment. Yes, Arsenal were big favourites and took the lead having been largely under pressure in the first half, but even when Hector Bellerin gave the Gunners the lead, Bournemouth knew they had goals in them. Howe's men came back and how. A four minute spell saw Ryan Fraser craft a beautiful cross for Callum Wilson to level before Jordan Ibe notched up his first Bournemouth goal, in what is no a historic first AFCB win against Arsenal. While Arsenal fans wallow in another failed attempt to find their way back to the top four, Bournemouth are unbeaten in five and can be satisfied they are now four points above the relegation zone.
Bournemouth take on Arsenal.
Bournemouth tried perhaps a more experimental line up than expected. Arter and Surman had to be content with a spot on the bench, while Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling would lead the Cherries midfield and Wilson would be supported by Ibe and Fraser on either side with a back three guarding the Cherries' goal.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.
Jack Wilshere made Arsenal's starting line up.
The Cherries pushed forward early with Daniels and Adam Smith and Smith fired wide on three minutes. Arsenal soon came back with Bellerin having a shot blocked by Daniels.

Arsenal soon got Wilshere on the ball and he fund Lacazette who passed to Maitland-Niles who cracked a shot against the bar with Begovic beaten on eight minutes. Adam Smith and Francis had tried to close down the shot but just couldn't get a tackle in.

Iwobi was also getting on the ball and gave Begovic another deflected shot to save on 10 minutes. Arsenal brought in further pressure with a corner. 

Ibe was presented with a gift of a pass from Maitland-Niles on half way and the Bournemouth forward ran at the Arsenal defence well before playing a ball forward that Fraser just didn't read and the chance was gone. Bournemouth were finding their game though and Fraser next had a shot saved on 16 minutes.

Ibe was chasing Holding right across the Arsenal back line in his attempts to start the press. But Begovic had to be out quick to stop Welbeck running onto a long through ball.

When Gosling went down AFCB expected a free kick, but Referee Kevin Friend accused the Bournemouth midfielder of diving and yellow carded him on 21 minutes - an awful decision.
Wilshere was getting plenty of possession even if Gosling kept tight to him. But another yellow card came Bournemouth's way on 30 minutes when Francis chopped across Welbeck's stride.  Arsenal began to get a few shots away with Xhaka having an effort deflected right to Begovic, before Welbeck bust through the middle and had his shot saved by Begovic's legs. A couple of Arsenal corners didn't amount to anything but the frustration for home fans was the poor refereeing decisions.

Ibe made a good run down the right and the cross fell for Fraser and while he shot well it was blocked at the last moment and went out for a corner.

Bournemouth had a corner themselves on 39 minutes after Ibe's blocked shot, but Fraser blasted his shot over when it came out to him. Bournemouth might have fancied grabbing a goal just before half time when Ibe stole in from a Fraser pass, but he didn't get a shoot away and Gosling committed a foul trying to get the ball back. So, it was 0-0 at half time.
No goals at half time.
Second half
Bournemouth had pressed well in the first half but found it hard to get out of their half at the start of the second. When they did get a corner they didn't win the header and Arsenal were soon on the attack. Daniels was slow to get back and Iwobi raced away and played in Bellerin who found himself with Begovic to beat. He shot and at first it looked like Begovic had kept it out but the ball bounded on and rolled into the net in the bottom right corner on 52 minutes.

It didn't deter the Cherries. They won a corner three minutes later but Fraser had his shot blocked. before Ibe was fouled by Xhaka who got a yellow card.

Eddie Howe made a sub on 63 minutes as Daniels was taken off and Mousset entered the game with Adam Smith moving to left back. Ibe linked up with Fraser well and Fraser had a shot saved low down as Bournemouth tried to get back into the game. Ibe then followed with another low shot that Cech had covered.

Meanwhile, Steve Cook was making some great tackles at the back. A break on the left saw Ibe and Faser linking up before the cross from Fraser low and curling across the box was inviting for Wilson to hit first time and steer it past the outstretched figure of Cech to make it 1-1 on 69 minutes.

Wilshere picked up a yellow card for a foul on Wilson, before Gosling fouled Wilshere.

Arsenal subbed Chambers for Ramsey on 73 minutes. It was perhaps not the best time as Bournemouth raced on with Adam Smith and Lewis Cook playing the ball up to Wilson who with his back to gaol played it back to Ibe, with the Arsenal defence out of position, and Ibe received the pass to slot home his first Bournemouth goal from just inside the box.

With Bournemouth now in the lead, Ryan Fraser was tempted to go for a big shot and drove a powerful shot just over from distance.

Arsenal subbed Iwobi for Walcott on 76 minutes. It was down to Bournemouth hold on now. Lys Mousset was doing much of the running up front now and Bournemouth were catching Arsenal offside more often.

A break by Bournemouth saw Adam Smith go extremely close with a shot that went inches wide of the left post after Ibe had played him through.

Ibe came off to much applause on 86 minutes letting Marc Pugh finish the game. It was a big sigh of relief when Begovic caught the ball on 89 minutes. Four minutes of added time were for once uneventful at Dean Court, apart from Afobe replacing Wilson, and Bournemouth had beaten Arsenal for their first home win of 2018.
Three lovely points!
Summary
Disbelief! Ecstasy!And sheer joy! Just about summed up my feelings after this crucial win. The Cherries would have been stuck in 17th place but for their two second half goals and to move up to 13th and take a big top six scalp was no more than Eddie Howe's side deserved. They have shown that they play well late in games and have now managed to get a valuable win from coming from behind. The fact that it was Arsenal as well, one of the few Premier League teams that AFCB had not beaten will be huge for confidence. We may just start seeing the best of the Cherries now.
All over and the Gunners get nothing.
Francis gets a congratulatory hug.
Bournemouth's line up.
AFCB Subs: Boruc, Simpson, Surman, Pugh, Arter, Afobe, Mousset.
AFCB Ratings
Begovic 7, Francis 6, S Cook 8, Aké 7, Daniels 7, A Smith 7, Gosling 8, L Cook 7, Ibe 9, Fraser 8, Wilson 8 

Arsenal
Cech, Chambers (Ramsey 74), Mustafi, Holding, Bellerín, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles,
Iwobi (Walcott 76), Welbeck, Lacazette

Arsenal Subs
Ospina, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Walcott, Kolasinac, El Neny, Nketiah

Ref Watch: Kevin Friend 2/10 another poor performance by Friend. Perhaps he should try something else. He was looking for diving were there wasn't any and didn't know half the time whether he should be giving goal kicks or corners. It was a shambles at times.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

AFCB badly need first home win of 2018

There may be a big 18 point gap between the Cherries and Arsenal and it's true AFCB have not beaten the Gunners in their previous five attempts. Anyone would consider it unlikely that Eddie Howe's men can get a result this time, but just when AFCB seem in big trouble there is a pick up in form and the points start to come. It's hoped that Eddie Howe's methods can again bring results.
Bournemouth are out looking for their first home win of 2018 today.
Playing on a Sunday after knowing all of Saturday's results doesn't make it any easier. Bournemouth simply know that a win is the only thing that will really help their situation and as long as they approach the game in that way there should be no thinking about any other outcome. Of course, Bournemouth need goals to win and the home form has seen them score in their previous three home matches. But goals have not come easy and the variety of different scorers for the Cherries has been a bit of a weakness as well as a strength. 

What would fans give for a Callum Wilson or a Josh King hat-trick? Both of them are capable of banging in the goals on their day but the Cherries have never managed to beat a top six side by more than the odd goal. In fact, big wins have been a bit absent this season for the Cherries with the exception of the Huddersfield home win. It's not that Bournemouth haven't been creative enough but the shooting has not been as effective as Eddie Howe will have wanted.

Getting the goals will only be half the job though against Arsenal and Bournemouth have not kept a clean sheet since 25 November and the draw with Swansea. There will be some decision to make as to whether Bournemouth play with a back three or four. Personally, I think Bournemouth are used to 4-4-1-1 even though other teams know how to play against Bournemouth that way. Feeling comfortable about how you want to play is the main point and if Eddie Howe does pull a win off in this game I would expect him to say it would be one of the best of his career, considering the league table and the odds against Bournemouth. Let's hope he gets the chance to say something along those lines. UTCIAD!

AFCB possible starting line up
AFCB Subs: Boruc, A Smith, Gosling, L Cook, Stanislas, Pugh, Mousset

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Beating Arsenal would transform AFCB's season

It may seem strange in a week that has been a tough one for Arsenal in going out of the FA Cup, and having to play in the Carabao Cup semi-final, that Bournemouth have to believe that they themselves are capable of beating the Gunners. Some Arsenal fans may considered this league game as more important than the cup matches with their Premier League top four prospects dependent on a win, but whatever team Arsene Wenger picks for this game, they will have players that have to deal with the mental negativity that they are lagging behind in the league and are already out of one of the cups.

The Cherries have to find something special to climb away fro the wrong end of the table.

Arsenal have been hurt a bit this week in losing to Nottingham Forest, but it wasn't their first team and even Sanchez only played a third of the Carabao Cup match, while Mertesacker sat on the bench along with Walcott. So most of their players have time to recover for Sunday's game. They may assume that it is only AFCB, but this is an opportunity for Eddie Howe's men to capitalise on any problems Arsenal do have and to get three points would not only be a shot in the arm, it would make the trip to West Ham all the more exciting for the players and fans in the next week.

AFCB need to see this as a springboard game. A match that can transform their season. If they play with good pressing and aim to get to the ball first as often as they can, they are capable of getting in the faces of Wenger's team and with the week they have had they may find it harder than usual to pick up the fight. As usual a good start will be required and it's the Achilles heel for Bournemouth at the moment that they need to that get right to stay in contention with teams as giving Arsenal something like a 0-2 lead for Arsenal by half time would be much harder to recover from than a Brighton or Wigan match.


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Pinpointing a weakness in Arsenal's side may seem difficult but it is in their defence and for Bournemouth to get at Arsenal's defence they have to go fully on the attack. There will be risks involved if Bournemouth can't keep their passing tight in the middle of the park, and this could be where the game is won or lost. Both teams are strong on the break but being able to cut out mistakes that give possession away will be vital. Do the simple things right though and Bournemouth's season might look a whole lot brighter. UTCIAD!

Arsenal Away Form
WDDWD

AFCB Home Form
LDLDW

In other news, Jack Simpson signs a new 2.5 year deal keeping him at AFCB until 2020.

ASK Fans match preview AFCB v Arsenal

Friday, 12 January 2018

Bournemouth need a fully-fit Josh King

With many key matches ahead of Bournemouth in the next few weeks, there is one player in particular that I am hoping has a good run in the team and remain injury free. Josh King is a talisman that can pull AFCB away from the threat of relegation. He has done it before, and his game is one that just goes from strength to strength when he does start to get on top of his game.
Josh faces a late fitness test for the Arsenal match.
The difficulty this season I think has been that Josh has not really been 100 per cent fit and it is all the niggles that he gets that stop him performing to the very highest levels. So it must be difficult for Eddie Howe to know when to risk him and when not to, but if he would benefit from resting a bit longer in January I wonder if AFCB would benefit more with holding him back for the match against West Ham and the February fixtures which are going to be fate deciding games in my opinion.

Bournemouth will try and win every game but there are some matches where they will be bigger favourites to pick up points and it is in those games when AFCB will really need King. But Josh has already been out for a few games now and turning on the form straight away will not necessarily be easy for him. What Howe will hope for is that he does not break down again quickly.

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With Jermain Defoe out and Lys Mousset and Benik Afobe not first picks it is going to be down to Callum Wilson and Josh King to carry AFCB's hopes in most games before Easter. But I'd advise Howe to spend a lot of time with Josh now to get him absolutely right. If Josh can be like the player he was last season he will be a saviour and Bournemouth are probably going to need one fairly soon if they are not going to be sweating on their survival with a few matches to go.

Francis needs to put in a captain's performance

Simon Francis is going to reach 250 games for AFCB if selected to play against Arsenal and he has been one of the best players for the club in the Premier League when you consider AFCB have not one a game in this league without him. But this season he has not hit top form frequently, and while he has had to play a dual role in both centre-back and right back positions, he has perhaps missed the satisfaction of just playing on one position and getting his game right.
Francis can up his game.
It is unusual to see Francis struggle but that is what we have had to come to terms with in this third Premier League season. It is a problem because as captain he needs to do well to enshrine the confidence and authority he wants to impart to the team on the field. But when your captain is making mistakes it is hard to nowhere to look when you need some leadership.
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I still think Francis will improve in games this season as he works so hard and is one of the players that has a winning streak running through him. He, like many of the other players has worked too hard for many years to reach this point not to give up without a fight. Perhaps the changing of positions has made it harder for him and with Bournemouth fluctuating between a back three and a back four it has been a more unsettling season.

Still, Francis will probably lead the team out against Arsenal and will want to see something better than the Cherries produces at the Emirates. I just want him to have a really good game and to get that under his belt, because when Francis plays well AFCB usually win.

In other news, Get Football France claims AFCB have had a EUR12m bid for Rennes star Firmin Mubele rejected, quoting Goal France reporter Julien Quelen.
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