Sunday, 17 February 2019

Have AFCB got the best keepers they can afford?

It's been an intriguing season in regards to the goalkeepers for AFCB. While Asmir Begovic looked nailed on for a 38 games season that has now been well and truly punctured by the appearances of Artur Boruc, who has done extremely well to displace the former Chelsea keeper and hold on to the number one spot.
Boruc and Begovic have let in 47 goals between them this season.
I suppose Artur Boruc was none to pleased at being made to deputise and similarly Asmir now has that same feeling. Competition for the goalkeeping shirt is great for the team and it's good to see that both players really want to be number one. I believe that Boruc should have that position at the moment and it just may have been that Begovic was getting used to seeing his name on the sheet, and wasn't pushing as hard as when he first came to the club.

It made me think though, have AFCB got the best keepers they could afford? We tend to believe that goalkeepers mature like a fine wine and that older keepers make less mistakes. But I wonder of Bournemouth could be more aggressive in their recruitment for keepers. There are some terrific performances being put in by Ben Foster, 26, at Watford and I ifnd it staggering that no Premier League team has not put a bid in for Jack Butland, 25, at Stoke City. The age of these two players is on their side and they already have a good number of Premier League starts under their belt. I think either one would challenge for a number one spot at AFCB.

But while Bournemouth have been keen to change the age profile of the team in other areas, there does seem to be a reluctance to pick a keeper in their mid-20s who could really rival Boruc or Begovic. Aaron Ramsdale and Mark Travers are the young pretenders but they are a long way behind in the experience stakes to the keepers that are fighting for Premier League starts. There has to come a point though when age is not on a keeper's side and while Begovic, 31, still has many years ahead of him, it will be interesting to see whether Eddie Howe feels Artur Boruc has impressed enough at the end of this season to give him more than a one-year contract, which is what he has received for the last couple of years. Boruc has impressed this season and if he can keep Asmir in the number two spot into next season, I don't see that Howe would be starting to look for a replacement,

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Away nightmare has to end for AFCB

The poor away run Bournemouth have been on may seem startling with eight defeats now lined up, but the teams Bournemouth have played in that run are mainly in the top half. If Bournemouth did slip up it was perhaps against Cardiff and Newcastle Utd, where they would have expected to be more in these games. Having not won away since Fulham on 27 October 2018, it is a problem that Eddie Howe has to find a solution to sooner rather than later.
The home dugout is a far more friendly place than the away ones for Eddie Howe.
Difficult afternoons are not unusual, but the opening goals in Bournemouth's away matches have come for the opposition. Bournemouth are not getting the fist hit if you like, and making comebacks is always hard in this league.

Individual mistakes are still very prevalent and it is hard to mitigate that. Bournemouth will be stronger when they get players back and while the team is not playing well away from home, Bournemouth have to make sure they don't start seeing that form affect their home matches.

Keeping in games for longer is what Bournemouth will be keen to achieve in these away matches. I thought they were doing perhaps too well against Liverpool in the opening 25 minutes. As soon as that confidence got up though, the killer goal for Liverpool came. Eddie Howe says it's not the away form that is really so much a cause for the concern though.
"It's difficult for us, because I don't think it's home form and away form. It's just inconsistencies and I know people will point to the away record, and quite rightly point out that that's not been very good. But I think we've had inconsistencies in our performance probably since we picked up our long-term injuries, and we've never quite managed to produce results and performances, week in and week out," said Howe. "Obviously, we know that is what we are trying to put right."

AFCB's post-match press conference for Liverpool 3 v 0 AFCB

Friday, 15 February 2019

Losing games and not doing jobs is AFCB's problem

Eddie Howe didn't hide from criticising his players when he talked about the continued losing run. The players were at fault for the second goal at Liverpool and not doing their jobs from a throw in, and it's clear that Eddie wants to make his players aware that they are making it harder for themselves at times.
The break might have come at a good time for AFCB.
The mood in the camp might not be overly high or low at the moment. The table shows Bournemouth are still sitting handily in mid-table and they have games to play to make this a good season. There is no distraction about cups or any further transfer windows. It's all about the Premier League and in this league you have to be at your best to stop the best teams.

Bournemouth were fortunate to come up against Chelsea when they were not at their best and unfortunate that they played Liverpool when they were on top form. The players need to feel annoyed though to work harder at their game and in training there will be a real desire to do better.
The games that have gone though have gone. It is disappointing that the team have not managed to build on the wins against West Ham and Chelsea, but they have to try and keep those games in mind rather than the last two matches to try and get a win against Wolves.

Bournemouth also have to look at getting their own game back on song in an attacking manner. They have not scored in the past two matches, and it's not just the defence that needs to sharpen up their act.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Howe still looking over his shoulder

Eddie Howe is not the only one looking over his shoulder at the table and AFCB's gap to the relegation zone. It may be that Bournemouth are only two wins away from safety but the gap to the chasing teams is narrowing and it would be awful for AFCB to get mixed up in a last minute scramble for points this season, having started the campaign so well.

Eddie knows his team are not safe yet.
While it may seem healthy to see Southampton and others finding it a challenge to get enough points, they are on 24 points and only three wins away from being on AFCB's heels. That can change very quickly. Managing the situation is what Bournemouth can do from their side, even just by picking up some draws. But of late that is looking a problem in itself.

Bournemouth are not alone in feeling that they are under a lot of pressure, Brighton haven't won a game this calendar year and Leicester and Crystal Palace have picked up less points than Bournemouth in their last five games. Of those teams above Bournemouth, it is Everton that might be a team that is finding the going hard having just one a single game in their last five.

Bournemouth have to go and get the points and can't expect other teams to fall away. Southampton have lost only 12 games whereas Bournemouth have lost 13. AFCB have got the wins though when their big players are available and they need to get two more wins now as quickly as possible.

By the way, it is interesting to hear Eddie has taken up meditation. In his postition I can certainly see why. It's something I've been trying in the last few weeks. Give it ago, it can really help people lose some of the stress and anxiety that every day life brings!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Bournemouth need their big players back

If we didn't know before, after the Liverpool game it is really clear that Bournemouth are missing players big time. No Wilson, no Brooks, no Stanislas, no Lewis Cook and no Simon Francis. The heart of AFCB's team has been wrecked over the winter months and the players that are filling in are having to find their feet very quickly.
Bournemouth's injury's are as bad as any season they have had in the Premier League.
The game against Liverpool was perhaps one that Bournemouth were simply not in a position to win with so many players out. Even Nathaniel Clyne had to miss the Liverpool game because of his loan deal with Liverpool being his parent club, while Charlie Daniels also missed the trip to Anfield due to personal reasons. The strength of Bournemouth's team has really been depleted and it's no surprise that points are becoming hard to come by.

Hopefully, Junior Stanislas is not out for long. But it looks like the team will be with out Wilson and Brooks until the end of March. The fixtures aren't kind in this period with Wolves, Arsenal and Man City before an away game at Huddersfield. To get two wins out of this batch of results would be terrific and would make AFCB safe, but it's hard to see that with the likely omissions from the first team.

The physio team are going to be fully stretched. But it's important that Bournemouth get their best players back soon. While it would be of great interest to see Sam Surridge and Kyle Taylor  and Jack Simpson get some special moments in games, Eddie Howe is putting them in against some of the best payers in the world. A few more injuries though and these players could well face that test.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Gosling having to play out wide!

Dan Gosling had an unusual game against Liverpool. While he was chasing down Wijnaldum and Salah for much of the first half, it was quite a different quest for him in the second half when Solanke came on. Gosling was moved out to the right wing and it was evidence that Bournemouth were having trouble putting out round pegs in round holes.
Even Gosling is having to be versatile in this current environment.
BBC Radio Solent did comment that Marc Pugh would have been good to have had on the bench but for his loan deal with Hull City. While Brooks and Stanislas are out, the winger situation at AFCB does look a little thin on the ground. Howe could have put King on the wing, but he wanted two up front to try something different.

To see Ibe come off having been playing well to bring Solanke was tough on Ibe. But it was also tough on Gosling who would not have been in his comfort zone laying out wide. AFCB have perhaps lost a few players that could be versatile enough to play in several positions. Adam Smith was one option that Howe could have used, but he was having a strong game at the back and Howe probably thought nobody would do a better job than Smith where he was.

It was perhaps a shame that Sam Surridge or Kyle Taylor didn't get a run out at Anfield. Instead Chris Mepham got a few minutes to sample what it was like going up against one of the best teams in Europe. Mepham did okay and playing basically five across the back he would have felt fairly well protected in this outing, so let's hope it is a help for him in future games where he may get called upon.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Were AFCB too reactive at Anfield?

The selection problems that Eddie Howe had for the Liverpool match were much more severe than we could have imagined on the morning of the game. Junior Stanislas would have been in most fans' starting eleven, but with a thigh injury ruling him out and with Charlie Daniels unavailable, Howe ended up picking Kyle Taylor and Sam Surridge on the bench.
AFCB need a way out of these defeats.
Out of all the teams AFCB have to play, Liverpool would not have been a favourite pick for Howe on this day. But the fixtures are what they are and AFCB have to complete the fixture list no matter how many players they may have out. In those circumstances it was not wrong for Howe to pick a very defensive set up, but was it just a little too defensive in nature?

Poor Josh King had the kind of game where as a striker you wonder really if it is almost worth you being out on the pitch. The team were far more engaged in dealing with Liverpool's forward play than trying to ensure King could feel part of the game. He did get some support in the second half when Solanke was brought on. But could AFCB have gone with a more adventurous set up from the start?

It's hard to tell what might have happened if AFCB had played with two men up front. Howe clearly didn't feel it was the best option with the players he had and even with five in midfield the team struggled to find a way of keeping Liverpool out in the first half.

I believe Howe could have been more lucky had Fraser got an early goal, but it was always going to be a tall order to hold off Liverpool for 90 minutes.