Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Begovic has started to pull out the saves

There has been no real qualms about Asmir Begovic getting the number one shirt in AFCB's goal, but it has taken him a while to really come up with a very strong performance. The game against Spurs I believe was by far his best game so far, and he is starting to show he can be a leader on the pitch.
Asmir Begovic at Wembley
It looks like Begovic will play more games in goal than Boruc for AFCB this season and while the two keepers are going to be watched very carefully if AFCB remain in the bottom three, goalkeeping errors are not the reason why AFCB are in the position they are in. Against Spurs, Begovic really stepped up and made a good splattering of saves in both halves. The incident that the pundits liked to dwell on though was his added time foul on Nihoudou who looked set to score.

Begovic was very quick of his line and decided he was going to get everything as long as the challenge was outside the box. The good thing is that he was committed once he had made his decision and he got there quick enough to get there in time. Whether he got enough of the ball and was unlucky to get carded is one that only video replays will decide, but I have expected the referee to send him off as that is how AFCB's season has been going.
Luckily Begovic only received yellow and could be pleased with his overall performance on the day at Wembley. Going up to Stoke will be a home coming for him of course and he should want to be just as keen on getting a good performance in there. But something about me hopes he is not as busy as he has been of late, because AFCB are defending better and they need some reward for their performances which they are simply not getting at the moment.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Timing of Eriksen goal was cruel on Bournemouth

Bournemouth had played well up until the time for Spurs only goal in the last match. That is what the best sides do though - one chance - one goal. It is not the Tottenham way to sneak a win, but they still got the points. Still, AFCB frustrated Pochettino's side well up until the goal by making a very effective barrier to keep Harry Kane fairly quiet and Dele Alli.
The big screen catches the moment when AFCB are finally beaten by Eriksen's strike.
As an away performance a 1-0 defeat to Spurs would be a good effort in most seasons but the poor start that the Cherries have made doesn't bring much satisfaction. The goal that Spurs did score was at a really crippling time. Bournemouth will have had an inspiring dressing room discussion about how well they had been doing and then they will have come out and seen all that good work wiped clean in just a minute or two after half time. It wasn't what they would have been expecting, and it must have been so annoying as it meant the second half would be a very different game.

I wonder if anything had been said about Eriksen at half time as he had been the best player for Spurs and was enjoying creating chances for the front men. But AFCB's midfield had difficulty in picking him up and eventually he got in himself. I could see Eddie Howe just coming out of the tunnel after half time as Eriksen had scored, and he would not have seen the goal in real time I imagine. But he will have needed to get some fresh instructions out quickly after the goal. What I was surprised at was that he did not change things even quicker but stuck to the same game plan until the 75th minute.

The thing is that AFCB had done so well that Howe probably thought it too big a risk to change things so soon after the break. As long as the team kept on getting the odd chance he may have felt AFCB were still well in contention and could get their opportunity with what was on the pitch. But the way Bournemouth played would have needed them to score first I think to win the game, and when that did not materialise they were going to need to think about getting more possession which didn't happen.

The game plan almost worked against Spurs

Bournemouth are in a difficult place right now. Eddie Howe can be pleased that the team is getting harder to beat, but they are still getting beaten and they are not quite producing enough up front to get anything much out of games. In away, it is like Bournemouth are in a quagmire of potential but no fulfilment of their aims appear possible with every fixture seeming just as hard as the last game.
Bournemouth players run out at Wembley.
All the teams in the Premier League are good sides. If Crystal Palace can go and beat Chelsea having not won a game prior to that, or having scored all season, then we should know that anything can happen in a top flight game. It should not matter to the players if it is Wembley or the Bet365 stadium, AFCB have to beat the 11 players in front of them and they need not only a win but a back-to-back win just to get themselves involved in the league, because at the moment they are fading away into obscurity.

However, the international break certainly helped in terms of organisation if we look at the Spurs game. The three centre backs made it very difficult for Spurs and only the genius of Christian Eriksen really caused problems for Bournemouth. Stopping Spurs' big stars rampaging through the middle of the pitch was a valid call and out wide Bournemouth had their wing backs to try and shut down the number of crosses.

The problem was Eriksen kept up his intensity and managed to find some space in the centre of the Bournemouth defence in the end. Bournemouth still have these moments when they concede having done so well. It was unfortunate in this game as AFCB could so easily have been ahead first and if they had scored early the game plan would have become even stronger.

Bournemouth did not react quickly to change things either after they had gone behind and that was perhaps a slight mistake, as Ibe and Defoe did make a difference when they did come on. So the game plan didn't quite work this time, but AFCB have found a good way of playing against the best sides that come on to them.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Eriksen condemns Bournemouth to Wembley defeat

Match Report
14 October 2017
Spurs 1 v 0 AFCB
Attendance: 73,505
AFCB visit Spurs' temporary new home at Wembley.
Playing Tottenham at Wembley on a Saturday afternoon may seem cereal, but AFCB fans will have lapped up the occasion even though Christian Eriksen won Spurs the points. The match was a tight affair with no quarter being given in the first half. The Cherries kept Spurs out of their box very well and the visitors could have even gone ahead after a scrambled away corner. Eriksen's cool tip-toeing dance past a lunging Simon Francis and gasping Steve Cook brought a bit of reality to proceedings as Spurs took the lead just after half time. While Bournemouth had a big chance with Defoe coming on and forcing a save from Loris, Spurs had even better chances to kill the game off in added time when Begovic bravely stood firm and kept the score down to one.

The two teams shake hands.
The team selection was slightly surprising in that Josh King was declared fit enough to start and Bournemouth played the three at the back which allowed Steve Cook another start and Daniels and Adam Smith operating as wing backs. Meanwhile, Defoe was dropped to the bench.

AFCB fans Donna, Andrew, Dianne, Jamie and Mark give their pre-match views 

Simon Francis and Hugo Lloris in the middle.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

The game started fairly slowly with neither team over extending themselves in the first 10 minutes. Spurs hit long balls that were too far reaching for Alli. Bournemouth were intent just to hold up Spurs when they came forward. 

Matters became more urgent when Alli crossed to Eriksen in the box and Francis had to make a string challenge to keep Eriksen from shooting on 14 minutes. A corner to Spurs brought on more pressure with Eriksen lobbing the ball back in before Alli tried a back flick that went just wide.

Bournemouth almost broke the deadlock when Junior Stanislas saw his shot from the centre of the box deflected off of Sanchez for a corner. The shot had been going in and Sanchez had blocked the shot by moving his body across and allowing the ball to hit part of his arm. A Bournemouth corner from the left side soon followed and Toby Alderweireld saw the ball come off him and Lloris had to make a save on the line before the ball eventually ran out to Lewis Cook, but he skied his shot.


Steve Cook was the first player to be booked when he took out Harry Kane n a promising Tottenham break. When King was pushed off the ball soon after though he won no free kick.

Begovic was called upon to make a low down save against Harry Kane at the near post on 33 minutes and Alderweireld headed over from the following corner. Adam Smith was booked soon after and Lewis Cook found himself almost playing himself into trouble around his own box.

King was brought down by Harry Winks near the end of the half but again no yellow was awarded to the Spurs player. But 0-0 at half time was more than pleasing for AFCB fans.

Half time entertainment - dancers celebrate  the festival of Diwali
Second half
The half started as badly as it could for Bournemouth. Eriksen had been the best player up to this point and he shattered the Bournemouth defence by passing an outstretched Simon Francis and slow to react Steve Cook. He had time to pick out the bottom left corner and put Spurs 1-0 up on 47 minutes.
Video replay still shot from the big screen. Erksen shapes to score!
Eddie Howe was only just emerging from the tunnel. It was not the return pitch side that he wanted to see. Bournemouth were up against it now and Begovic added to some anxiety by missing a cross.

A second goal almost came when a right sided chip from Spurs was headed in on 58 minutes but it was ruled out for offside. Harry Kane should possibly have added to his season's tally after being given a clear shot by Winks' pass that split Steve Cook and Simon Francis, but he was blocked twice by Asmir Begovic when the Bournemouth defence were scrambling to keep him out. Begovic did excellently to make two smothering saves.

Bournemouth did have chances. Gosling put Stanislas in with a great moment to shoot but as he took aim a tackle came in from Vertonghen to save the day for Spurs. King gave Stanislas a one-two that put Stanislas through on goal, but he chose not to shoot and the chance had gone.

Defoe and Ibe came on to replace Stanislas and Adam Smith on 75 minutes. Sissoko also replaced Son.

Defoe  almost scored straight away by taking the ball from Ibe at the near post, but his shot struck Lloris on the legs for a corner.

Asmir Begovic then made an even better save at the other end as Eriksen tried to pick out the top left corner. The last 10 minutes saw Vertonghen pick up a yellow card for a pull back on Ibe and Lys Mousset came on for Lewis Cook.

Harry Kane was taken off to give Llorente the last five minutes. A big chance for Dele Alli arrived when Sissiko crossed for him and the Spurs number 10 headed back across goal but wide of the right post. Dele Alli was then subbed for Nkoudou.

It almost gave Spurs another goal as Bournemouth saw throw-ins high up the pitch turn into Spurs' breakaways and on the second one, Begovic took down Nkoudou on the edge of the box while Harry Winks shot over under pressure from Surman. It was a yellow card for Begovic, but it could have been a penalty and a sending off if he had not timed as well as he did. Still, the game was lost.
The match slips away from Bournemouth.
Another steadfast defensive performance from Bournemouth almost got them something from the  game but they switched off just after half time and it cost them dearly. The score line was clearly kept down by Begovic's good play, but Bournemouth need to find more in attack. It could come from a fully fit Callum Wilson. But where ever it comes from it needs to come quick as points are the only thing that are going to get AFCB moving in the right direction. Brave and full of heart is now what we are getting, but Eddie Howe needs to find some quality in the last third to start picking up those points.

The players come over to the fans.


Team details.

AFCB Ratings

Begovic 7, A Smith 5, Francis 4, S Cook 5, Aké 6, Daniels 5, Stanislas 5, Gosling 5, Surman 5, L Cook 6, King 6

Cherry Chimes' Bournemouth MOM: Asmir Begovic

Lloris, Trippier, Sánchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Dier, Winks, Eriksen, Alli (Nkoudouat 90+3), Son Heung-min (Sissoko 75), Kane (Llorente 85)

Referee Watch Robert Madley 3/10 - Happy to give Bournemouth players yellow cards but looked the other way when Spurs committed fouls. If he had given a penalty in the last minute to Spurs it would not have surprised me. He didn't want to upset the home fans one bit.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

AFCB have to get their plan right against a ruthless Spurs

While Tottenham have not been in superlative form at their new London home they have been a little more than a bit impressive on the road. It will only need a flick of a switch for Alli and Kane and company to suddenly hit form at Wembley, and it's important that AFCB do everything they can not to be the victim of another horror show as we close in on Halloween.
Eddie Howe hopes the bigger the game the better AFCB will play.
The team must look to establish themselves in these sort of games more than most. Tottenham have the talent to blow them away in a five minute spell and sometimes there will be little any team can do to stop Pocchetino's attacking players. But it's not just about keeping Spur's out. At the other end Spurs have only conceded five goals all season and have only lost one of their seven league games, which was against Chelsea.

What plan could Eddie Howe hatch? Well, a five-man midfield would seem to offer the best barrier to make it a competitive game and while three at the back has not always been positive for the Cherries it worked well against Man City. Injuries up front though could mean it's better to stick to four at the back. What the team will need is energy in abundance. The international break will have been tough on some who have travelled, but relatively easy on others who will have had some time to train hard with Eddie and Jason. It will be about holding their shape where Bournemouth can make the game difficult for Spurs. Too often the attacking intent of the Cherries has been countered by the best teams with speed and accurate shooting, and it's about time they did better at shutting the door. They nearly did it against Man City, but this game will be more difficult I suspect being away from home.
Where Spurs have done well this system is in their full back play. Davies and Trippier were particularly strong in their last match against Huddersfield and overwhelmed the Yorkshire team in midfield with Davies even getting on the score sheet. So the battles on the wings will be just as vital as anywhere else on the pitch, and getting the balance right between attacking and falling back to keep the shape in defence is going to be quite a skill to try and get right.

Keep the game tight should be AFCB's main goal in the first half. Making the game just a second half match would be a positive step, as long as Howe can get his substitutes right and with the possibility of Defoe and perhaps Lys Mousset being kept for the second half, there is always a possibility of pinching a point or more. While I'd like Callum Wilson to be on that bench, yesterday's press conference suggests that Callum is not quite ready yet and Josh King and Ryan Fraser could well be unavailable.

Potential AFCB line up at Wembley 4-5-1


Boruc, S Cook, Arter, Pugh, Mahoney, Defoe, Mousset 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Rival Lines: Wembley could quite possible deny Spurs the title

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Spurs v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Tottenham Blog
Twitter @DJFitch

Our second of two Rival Lines this weeks comes from Dan at Tottenham Blog. The lack of Premier League football got me a bit anxious this week so that is why we have ended up with a double helping of Rival Lines. It's all been a welcome period though for Spurs blogger Dan who can marvel at Harry Kane being on the short list for the Ball'on Dor and Harry Winks getting an England debut cap after just four Premier League appearances, but perhaps can AFCB bring Spurs back down to earth or should I say Wembley - their unhappy hunting ground.

CC: How did you get started on Tottenham Blog?

TB: I was working as a freelance journalist for lots of websites and figured I could learn a lot from running one myself.

CC: Is the Wembley form going to cost Spurs a crack at the title this season?

TB: Quite possibly. I’d have really fancied us if we were still at White Hart Lane. That said, our away form wasn’t great last season, so that was always an area in which there was potential to improve and so far we’ve done that.

CC: TalkSport's Alan Brazil and David Ginola have been talking about whether Spurs could sell Harry Kane in a swap deal with Gareth Bale and £120m - how would that sit with Tottenham fans?

TB: There is no player that Spurs fans would love to see back more than Bale, but not at the expense of Kane. These stories never explain how we’d pay the wages of someone like Bale, though I guess the £120m would help.

CC: Have you been surprised at how well Ben Davies has played at full back?

TB: Not really. He’s never really had a consistent run in the team until now, which has made it difficult for him to be at his best. We’ve missed Danny Rose’s energy and pace at times, but I’ve always thought that Davies was a better crosser.

CC: Do you think Dele Alli need to have the naughty boy image to be the player he is?

TB: He gets himself in trouble for silly things, often off the ball, which is a habit that he will hopefully grow out of. If that happens, I think he’ll be a better player, not a worse one.

CC: Did Mauricio Pochettino do enough in the last transfer window?

TB: We could have done with an attacking player with real pace and perhaps a playmaker, so we’re not so reliant on Christian Eriksen, but overall it was a pretty successful window.

CC: Does Son Heung-min deserve to be on the subs bench this season?

TB: The fact that we’ve mainly played with wing-backs has reduced his chances, as he played most of his games as a winger last season. He’s started more games in the Champions League, where his pace is vital when breaking against opponents that are likely to have more of the ball than us.

CC: What can you tell us about Harry Winks?

TB: I’ve yet to see him have a poor game, though Pochettino has been very careful in regards to what fixtures he’s picked him in. Winks always wants the ball and has the confidence to get his head up and pass imaginatively. It says much for his intelligence that Pochettino often brings him on as a substitute to see a game out, which is a job that a more mature player would normally be trusted with. I’m hoping that his England debut will lead to us picking him more regularly this season.

CC: Do you think Jermain Defoe is still good enough to go to the World Cup with England and is he the player Spurs fans will most fear in the Bournemouth line up?

TB: With Kane a certain starter, Defoe would be a useful super-sub to bring on if we needed a goal. He’s much loved among Tottenham supporters, though I’ve never been his biggest fan. For me, Defoe never convinced when played on his own up front, yet nor did he ever form a truly effective partnership with any of the strikers he played with at Spurs.

CC: Would Josh King have been a good fit for Tottenham this summer?

TB: A lot of Spurs fans were against this move, but I was all for it. We lack a really fast forward and it would have been great to have landed an adaptable player like King to make the most of the wide spaces at Wembley.

CC: Have spurs got many injuries?

TB: We’re without a number of players that would be contenders to play if fit. Mousa Dembele, Erik Lamela, Danny Rose and Victor Wanyama are all out.

CC: How do you expect Tottenham to line up for the game against Bournemouth?

TB: Lloris in goal, a back three of Alderweireld, Sanchez and Vertonghen, Trippier/Aurier and Davies at wing-back, Dier and Winks in central midfield, with Alli and Eriksen supporting Kane.

Another strong set of answers from our second Spurs blogger. Dan may be worried that Spurs are not yet picking up maximum points in their home games but as an AFCB fan we would just be happy to get a point or two anywhere at the moment. While Spurs have several players out and a big mid-week fixture against Real Madrid, AFCB will have to show something they have not shown yet this season I believe to win at Wembley. Still places can inspire players and the Cherries just may be fancy having a good crack at Spurs with 3000 AFCB fans behind them. Catch up with more of Dan's views on Tottenham Blog including the Pochettino's views on the differences between Spurs Man Utd and Man City and why Spurs may become record breakers this weekend.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Francis will enjoy coming up against Harry Kane

Francis is happy to give one supporter a picture of his game face.
Simon Francis has come back into the team in the last couple of matches and has been central to AFCB's new grit and determination to do better. It's a big responsibility for Francis to be the captain and he doesn't want to come off the field having not won. Against Everton I felt he was more distraught than most in not getting the result but he set out against Leicester on a real mission to keep Jamie Vardy quiet.

The role of being a central defender is besoming easier for Francis. He certainly likes targeting an individual to mark out of the game and he is going to need to be even better against Spur's Harry Kane. Kane is not the quickest of centre forwards but he does anticipate well, so Francis must be watching for the striker's every move on Saturday. 
Eddie Howe looks like he sees Aké, Steve Cook and Simon Francis as equals and perhaps even Tyrone Mings as well when he is fit. The four centre-backs have all been getting experience this season and it's important that Francis tries his utmost to stay in the team as captain. So he has his work cut out in that respect and all he can do is try and win his tackles and help the team to clean sheets. He may be most used to playing with Steve Cook, but he seems to do well with Nathan Aké and perhaps Aké and Francis can go on a run now if they can get through the Spurs and Chelsea games relatively unscathed. In these two games AFCB will need a captain's performance.