Friday, 14 December 2018

Wolves have been great against the top teams

Wolves have made a great start to life in the Premier League and now that they have hit the top 10, it is down to AFCB to try and stop them climbing further on Saturday. A defeat would see Wolves climb above the Cherries, and this game has a crunch match feel about it, because of that as both teams need momentum going into more fixtures in December.

Bournemouth last played Wolves in the Championship.
The home record of Wolves has strangely not been as good as their record away. They have won three games out of eight at Molineux, drawing two and losing three. Goals have been a bit hard to come by with Raul JimΓ©nez leading the way with four goals and Matt Doherty has scored three, while RΓΊben Neves, Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro follow on two goals each. The Portuguese core of the squad has been very effective at keeping possession and frustrating some rivals, but what has impressed me is their defence.

Matt Doherty is a strong defender who has been doing well with headed clearances and goals at the other end, while French defender Wily Boly has been a great signing since joining on loan last season from Porto. Wolves have managed four clean sheets and with draws against Man City, Man United, Everton and Arsenal as well as a win over Chelsea, Wolves have certainly raised their game for the top half teams. In that respect Wolves record is quite a contrast to Bournemouth's record at having struggled against the top six, so perhaps Wolves should be slight favourites for this game.
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Wolves are also a team that are getting results right at the end of games, so AFCB will have to be aware of how Wolves can score late on. Nuno Espirito Santo has the players playing for him and this could be the game of the weekend with both teams likely to see this game as a very winnable match.

Wolves Home Form
WLLLW

AFCB Away Form
LWWLL



Cherry Chimes' T-Shirt competition

Send in your score predictions for Wolves v AFC Bournemouth to @CherryChimes on Twitter by Saturday at 12am. We will picker winner from the correct entries to win a T-shirt. Good luck 

Wolves Blog: Cherry Chimes answers questions about the Cherries for Wolves Blog.
Rival Lines: Find out what Wolves Blog thinks about tomorrow's game

Rival Lines: 'It's nice to be top dog in the West Midlands' says Wolves Blog

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Wolves v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Wolves Blog
Twitter: @wolvesblog


This week I spoke to Thomas at Wolves blog about the great start to Premier League life that Wolves have managed since their return. As well as having a forward-thinking manager they have several young players that have contributed to the good start and I don't see this as an easy game for the Cherries who only just sit above Wolves in the table.

CC: What do you think Nuno's best qualities are as a manger?


WB: I like the fact he has a clear idea about he wants his team to play and never deviates from this regardless of the opposition. I also think it's admirable in the age of soundbites that he says little and prefers to let his team do the talking.


CC:  It has to be the best time to be a Wolves fan right now, but were you surprised at how long it took to get back to the Premier League?

WB: Well, I didn't expect consecutive relegations that's for sure. But we've spent the vast majority of the last 30 years in the second tier trying to get out so it was nothing new. Our previous owners were never that ambitious, so the Championship felt like our level until Fosun took over.

CC: To me it looks like Wolves have much more of a vision of how they want to play and how the club can develop now - is that a comfort to the fans?

WB: Absolutely. It feels like everyone shares the same vision for how we should be playing and there's limitless ambition. The owners have spoken openly about wanting to compete with the Big 6 and haven't been shy about backing that up with considerable investment. It's exciting times.

CC: You have had some great results in the Premier League already, but why do you think Wolves results against the top six have been better than some of the results against the bottom six?

WB: I think we play better on the break and when we're winning possession high up the pitch from teams trying to play out from the back. The top teams tend to do that more than those struggling at the bottom. Motivation and the pressure of expectancy may also be a factor.


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CC: A lot of attention has been focussed on Morgan Gibbs-White. Do you think he could be fast-tracked and be involved for England in the next European Championships in 2020?

WB: He's only just had his first Premier League start for us so probably premature to be talking about England. But certainly if he plays consistently for the next year or so as well as he did against Chelsea the other day, why not? The talent is most definitely real. He's been talked about for years so it's great to see the potential coming to fruition.

CC: Are you enjoying not having a derby game this season?

WB: It's certainly nice to be top dogs in the West Midlands as we haven't enjoyed that status in my lifetime. Every game has that derby atmosphere in your first season back in the Prem, so I'm not too bothered if I'm honest.

CC: Do you think we are yet to see the best of Ruben Neves?

WB: I'd say so. He continually improved last season and peaked down the home stretch and it could be the same this time. He's had to adjust to the pace and quality of the Premier League but you can see he's got a lot of quality himself even though he doesn't have it all his own way at times. He'll play in the Champions League again at some point, I'm certain of that. He's got the ability and temperament to go right to the top.

CC: Nuno has not played too many players, but if money is available in January what type of player would you like to see come in to improve the team?

WB: I think we need more options and more physical power in midfield and attack, so an athletic midfielder and a proper number 9 would be handy, even if they're just options we can call upon from the bench.


CC: Have Wolves got many injuries ahead of this game?

WB: Wing-back Jonny Otto is still out but other than that, I think we're dealing from a full deck, which is nice as we head into a busy December.

CC: How do you expect Wolves to line up?

WB: 343 - Patricio in goal, back three of Bennett, Coady and Boly, Doherty and Vinagre at wingback, Neves and Moutinho in midfield with Gibbs-White, Jimenez and Jota in attack.

CC: Do you see Bournemouth at home as a must win game, a difficult game or possibly one of the more entertaining games?

WB: A very difficult game but hopefully win or lose a good spectacle. There will certainly be two teams intent on playing attractive football and trying to get the three points, so should be a great match up.

CC: Thanks to Thomas who has a great Wolves Blog. You'll see some answers to questions that I answered for Thomas on his blog this week. I think Wolves are enjoying life in the Premier League and are one of the teams that are capable of surprising teams, so it is going to be a tough ask for Bournemouth to get something from this game. I wouldn't be too disappointed with a score draw.


Cherry Chimes' T-Shirt competition
Send in your score predictions for Wolves v AFC Bournemouth to @CherryChimes on Twitter by Saturday at 12am. We will picker winner from the correct entries to win a T-shirt. Good luck 

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Are AFCB over their wobble?

In the last five games AFCB have won just one game and have lost four. I think we can call it a wobble in form or a period when the team has found it difficult to pick up points, but if this period was characterised by the best teams in the league, can we expect an improvement of results in the next few games?
AFCB have to start piking up points against mid-placed teams.
The fixtures against Wolves and Brighton might have been viewed as favourable matches to pick up points at the start of the season, but the form of both of these teams has picked up just as AFCB get ready to play them. You could call it bad luck, but AFCB have to start building their own luck, and if they need a target hitting 25-30 points before the end of the year would be a fabulous achievement.

Bournemouth have not drawn that many games this season but playing these teams that are of similar stature could start to increase the likelihood of a drawn game or two. But defeat to Wolves and Brighton would leave the Cherries facing another tough couple of games against Spurs and Man United, needing to get points just to get themselves back into the top 10 before the end of the calendar year.
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So, I don't think we can underestimate the importance of the next two games for the Cherries. Bournemouth can either be fighting for a European place or be looking at holding on to mid-table positions come the start of next year. Traditionally, AFCB tend to pick their game up at this important stage of the season, and they will certainly need to improve on their current form, which is only better than Watford and Southampton.

Let's hope the wobble is soon a thing of the past. It would be a shame if Bournemouth struggle to build on their good start.

Express and Star - match preview for Wolves v AFCB

Are AFCB good enough to be best of the rest?

Simon Francis made a reference to being disappointed that AFCB will have fallen out of the top six following the defeat against Liverpool. His target is certainly to try and get the Cherries back into that position come next May, and while AFCB have been in and around the top six for most of the early part of the season, is it asking too much for them to hold onto that kind of position?
AFCB have to make their effort now to stay in the race for Europe.
The teams above Bournemouth now include Everton and Man Utd. In previous seasons it would not have been realistic for the Cherries to be within a game of two of these teams after a quarter of the season, but the Cherries have done well enough that they are contenders, if outsiders, for a European place come next May.

With only one point between Bournemouth and their next opponents Wolves in 10th place it is seen as a crucial game to keep make some distance on Wolves. The same will be considered when Bournemouth play Brighton in mid-December. The gap will either open or close up and to stay in touch with Everton and Man Utd, AFCB need to get points in these kind of games.

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A finish in seventh place would be a new record for AFCB and while Man Utd and Everton have more spending power, it is clear that AFCB have been playing well enough in the first part of the season to hang in with these teams' performances. The only worry now is on the injury front. If AFCB continue to pick up injuries at their current rate they will need to use more squad players, and Bournemouth's squad is simply not as deep as these bigger teams.

So would finishing seventh be a good achievement. I'd say it would be an excellent achievement, while even a top 10 finish must be seen as progress, if AFCB manage that in a season when they have not flirted with the bottom three places at any stage of the season.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Why can't AFCB beat top six teams?

While there has been much praise of how Bournemouth are getting closer and more competitive in matches against the best teams in the Premier League, the results this season would suggest otherwise. Perhaps it shows where Bournemouth are still well behind the best teams - in defence.
Bournemouth haven't had much luck against the top six.
Adding up the score lines against Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and Liverpool the score reads 3-11 in favour of the opposition and, although two of the games were only 2-1 defeats, the Cherries have not been so effective at the back against these top sides. Playing under pressure against good attackers is what AFCB need to get better at. Whether that means there has to be a period of getting used to playing these tames and finding their weaknesses more regularly or studying videos more intently, there is work for AFCB to do to improve.

Bournemouth don't have a top six team challenge again in the league until Boxing Day, which is some relief only if they can pick up points in the games in between then and now.  There is one Carabao Cup quarter-final against Chelsea though that could be a chance to not only break the duck, but try and see if AFCB can find a better way to approach these big games. In past seasons, AFCB have always had some success against the best teams and it would almost seem a backward step if the Cherries don't get any joy against the big teams this season.
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At the moment the gap appears to still exist between AFCB and the best teams. But this season the Cherries have perhaps not been at the very top of their game when they have played these clubs. Eddie Howe has to try and find ways to be better, even if there is no doubting the quality of the opposition in these games. If AFCB play the top six and play well but still lose, there can be little complaint, but when AFCB lose and are contributing to their defeats, then there is more work to do.

How good was the Surman and Lerma partnership?

The score line of 0-4 against Liverpool may suggest that not much really worked well for Bournemouth against Liverpool. In central midfield, Andrew Surman finally got an opportunity to play with Lerma , but he might not have liked doing it that much against one the best midfield's in the country.
A tough reintroduction for Surman.
Surman has his critics and it is easy to get on his case if you like to see plenty of forward passing. But his presence is going to be needed over December with Dan Gosling trying to rest his knee and Lewis Cook being out for the season. It is an area of the pitch where AFCB have always been well covered in previous years, but the fact that AFCB are already down to their bear bones was proven last Saturday when there was no central midfield substitute.

With Surman and Lerma working together, there was a good closing down of Liverpool midfielders for the first 30 minutes. However, Surman was asked to play 90 minutes which was perhaps a bit tough on him, having not been playing the first team for some while. Surman has a full week to recover now and if Dan Gosling is able to return to fitness, Eddie Howe will have another decision to make on whether he changes or keeps his central-midfield pairing.

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Swapping the players in the centre of the park often is not great for the stability of the team. But Howe has to find a pairing that can get Bournemouth moving up the pitch well and solid enough not to leave gaps in front of the defence. The jury would probably give a negative rating for Lerma and Surman against Liverpool, but can they improve if they play against Wolves or should Howe look to play Gosling if he is fit? For AFCB to play with intensity I believe it has to be Gosling and in a game that is really important not to lose, Howe may have to gamble that Gosling is fit enough to maybe last 60 or more minutes.

Since writing this post, it has been confirmed that Dan Gosling has undergone an operation and is expected to be out over the December period.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Why is Wilson such a big miss?

Bournemouth lined up against Liverpool without Callum Wilson. It may be something that AFCB could have to be accustomed to if the teams with financial clout come in with offers to buy him in future years. But for now Wilson is central to the team and without him it looked short of goal power against Liverpool.
Bournemouth certainly need Wilson's fire power.

It was disappointing that AFCB didn't create much more than a couple of clear cut chances against Liverpool. It is clear that Wilson offers a goal threat that AFCB's players are used to playing with and when he is not on the pitch to make his runs and bring others into the game, AFCB don't look such a potent team going forward. While AFCB have done without Wilson's services in the past, they have become more reliant on him for goals this season as the leading AFCB scorer on eight goals.


Josh King used his usual strength against the Liverpool defenders, but didn't get the run of the ball when it was in and around Liverpool's box. You could see some of the players like Fraser getting frustrated when other players like Brooks didn't take up positions to make crosses and were on different wavelengths. At the back, Francis and Steve Cook also kept looking to play balls up but couldn't find easy ball out to the strikers.

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Callum has made it his job to be one of the first players to give an option to team-mates when AFCB have the all, and he has a presence on the pitch. It will be good to get him back for the game against Wolves as AFCB need more of a direct threat on goal than they had against Liverpool.
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