Monday, 22 July 2019

Let's hope VAR is not a real spoiler for the Premier League

Bournemouth had a real eye-opener as to how VAR can change the face of a game while playing their pre-season friendly against Girona FC at the weekend. Jack Simpson received two yellow cards for a fairly unspectacular foul on the Girona forward Marc Gual, but after a waiting period of a couple of minutes the fouled was reviewed and Simpson received a red card. It was a good test for AFCB who then had to play with 10 men for the last 15 minutes, but in a Premier League match it will be very hurtful to suffer such an incident and I fear they could become far more regular.
A hard lesson for Jack Simpson.
The problem is that referees are unlikely to be told to go to VAR if they are unsure, the decision will already have been taken out of their hands. Instead of referees being able to use their common sense, the full letter of the law is likely to be used which means VAR is going to be the defining voice on every goal, every foul and any incident when their is a suspicion of an advantage being gained unfairly.

It won't just be an annoyance of the clock being stopped while decisions are under review, it will be goals struck off, players sent off and penalties being awarded. Whether those in the stadium will fully understand what is going on could also be a frustration. The players may have been told to get used VAR being involved in the game but the fans are not going to get used to it straight away. One benefit may be that we see less diving but even that may take some time to filter through to the players when they start getting caught.

The Premier League hopes that VAR brings clarity to the game and the correct decisions, and while it might bring excitement and suspense the game in a new way it might also rob fans of the game as they know it and have loved it. Times are changing and change can be good, but I sense that it is an area that has not yet found its boundaries and that we may well be talking about VAR more than anything else if it is over used in this 2019/2020 season.

Meanwhile, Lys Mousset has completed his move to Sheffield United.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

10-man Bournemouth fall 2-1 to Girona FC

Match Report
20 July 2019
Girona FC  2 v 1 AFCB 
Girona FC picture: Aké had plenty of heading to do in a 0-0 first half in Barcelona.
Bournemouth offered stiff resistance to a Girona FC side that had the advantage of 11 men against 10 for much of the second half. Jack Simpson was the unlucky man to be sent off for a foul on Gual when he was the last man. When Marc Gual put the Catalans ahead with 10 minutes to go it looked all over, but Ryan Fraser popped up with an equaliser a minute later. The lifeline was short lived though, as Girona scored a again with Juanpe's header form a corner five minutes from time.

It was good to hear 'Sweet Caroline' from Neil Diamond being belted out at the Estadi Olumpi Luis Companys stadium before kick off. with Bournemouth somehow being the home team. AFCB were in their lime green third kit. There was no Josh King, Asmir Begovic, Harry Arter, Aaron Ramsdale, Steve Cook or Jefferson Lerma, while Simon Francis, Lewis Cook and Charlie Daniels are still recovering from long-term injuries.

The Cherries withstood some early pressure as Girona attached up the left a few times with Boselli have two shots blocked.

Solanke started well with some good touches. Adam Smith put in an early cross that was cleared and Rico won AFCB's first corner.

Valery fouled Adam Smith to give AFCB a free kick on 13 minutes. Smith hit the cross and Akee headed it over the bar. at the far post. AFCB were very possession conscious. Solanke won the ball well to find Smith and he passed to Gosling, before Wilson moved the ball to the left with Dobre who had AFCB's first shot on target that the keeper saved.

Travers had a shock when Travers hit the ball against Aké and almost saw the ball go into AFCB's net on 17 minutes. Dobre then won a corner off Valery. Meanwhile, Offobroh was hitting some accurate long passes.

Wilson put a ball straight through for Solanke on 21 minutes, but the former Liverpool striker could only hit his shot at the keeper's legs.

Soni hit a speculate shot from distance that Travers took easily. Wilson was leading the press for AFCB.

Dobre's cross from the left had Solanke reaching for a header but he couldn't get it going forward. Gosling lost out to Boselli and Boselli got a hot away that had Travers forced into making a low save to his left.

Adam Smith made another raid down the right trying to link up with Wilson. Kilkenny was being a bit too strong in his press. The game was really going through the motions. Bournemouth were not exactly hitting Girona with tremendous pace. Ofoborh was happy enough to drill a shot from 30 yards out that lifted just over the bar on 37 minutes.

Wilson was being held unfairly every time the ball came up to him. Wilson snuck in on 39 minutes and almost broke the deadlock, but was held off and had to be happy enough with a corner off Alcalá. Gosling then smashed a shot well over.

Dobre had a header that came off the bar from an Adam Smith cross, but the referee had called a foul. So it ended 0-0 at half-time.

Second half
Offoborh was the only AFCB player to be retained from the first half. Fraser made a good early burst but Brooks couldn't reach his pass. Stacey then conceded a corner to Girona.

AFCB started more progressively this half with Brooks and Fraser pushing the team forward. Gual won another corner for Girona after Ofoborh blocked his shot on 50 minutes. Boruc caught the corner well.

Andzouan played Gual through, but the shot went wide for a corner. Soni who stayed on from the first half pulled out a good save from Boruc on 55 minutes when he was free in the box.

The commentator is talking about everything but the game which kind of tells you how unexciting the play is at times. Soni is starting to beat AFCB players and is causing some concern.

Brooks and Surridge aren't getting much chance to stretch their legs. Girona are taking control and Gaul hits a strong shot that Boruc saves in front of his chest on 61 minutes.

Girona had a four on two but a poor pass made it easy for AFCB to recover possession. A yellow card was given to Simpson after taking down Gual. Simpson was then given a second yellow and was sent off on 67 minutes, perhaps it was decent as he was arguing with the referee when the wall was being set up. If he was sent off for being the last man then it was a harsh call, although the referee did signal VAR was used, so Simpson is off.

Ibe comes forward with a forceful run and sins a corner off a deflected shot. At the other end Andzouana plays in, Gual but he hist the side netting,

Surman almost got Surridge in the clear, but his shot was blocked for a corner. Diamanka plays in Gual who hits a shot over again. Boruc is not too happy about a corner being awarded to Girona.

A pull back for Gual is sharply saved by Brouc at his near post. But now Girona have gone ahead. A mix up at the back and Gual has made it 1-0 to Girona on 80 minutes.

And just when you thought that meant a certain defeat for AFCB, Jordan Ibe races up the other end and plays in Ryan Fraser who makes it 1-1 on 81 minutes.

Girona are still pressing with crosses and a corner now. Paik takes the corner and Girona score with a header from Juanpe on 85 minutes.

Boruc has to make another save from Andzouana, which he does. Boruc makes another save from Gual after Andzouana made a pull back for Girona's number nine.

Bournemouth will be disappointed to lose the game but Girona FC attacked with more consistency and had it not been for Artur Boruc it could have been a bigger defeat. The Cherries struggled to create in the first half, but were stirred into action more in the second half after Jack Simpson was sent off. Eddie Howe will be most annoyed about AFCB's play leading up to the first Girona goal when the ball was lost on the right side. Ryan Fraser is again showing he has the finishing form to do well for another season, but Bournemouth still show little sign of being tighter at the back.

AFCB 4-4-2

Travers 42, Smith 15, Mepham 33, Aké 5, Rico 21,  Kilkenny 28, Ofoborh 38, Gosling (C) 4,
Dobre 54, Solanke 29, Wilson 13

AFCB second half 4-4-2
Boruc 1, Stacey 17, Simpson 25, Kelly 26 , Ibe 10, Surman 6, Butcher 36, Offoborh 38, Fraser 34, Brooks 20, Surridge 44,

AFCB unused Sub

Player Ratings first half
Travers 5, Smith 7, Mepham 6, Aké 6, Rico 5,  Kilkenny 5, Ofoborh 8, Gosling (C) 5
Dobre 5, Solanke 6, Wilson 7

Player Ratings second half
Boruc 7, Stacey 6, Simpson 6, Kelly 6 , Ibe 6, Surman 5, Butcher 5, Offoborh 8, Fraser 7, Brooks 6, Surridge 6

Juan Carlos 1, Alcalá 2, Pau Resta 3,  Valery 5, Granell 6, Maffeo 4, Soni 27,
Eric Montes 14, 
Lago 11, Boselli 23, Pachón 21

Girona Second half

Suárez, Maxi Villa, Juanpe 15, Muniesa 20, Iago, Diamanka, Paik 17, Andzouana 26,
Boselli 23 (Sub 24), Marc Gual 9, Soni 27 (Sub 28).

Saturday, 20 July 2019

How good are Girona?

I really didn't know much about Girona FC apart form that they were a Spanish team, so when AFCB told us they would play them in Barcelona in the summer I thought I'd do some digging before the match to see what our lads were up against.

AFCB will take on Girona FC tonight at 7pm at
Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys in Barcelona at 7pm.
Girona FC is a Catalan club that now play in the second division in Spain having been relegated last season from La Liga, Spain's top league. They finished 18th just four points behind Celta Vego and Valladolid and managed nine wins and 10 draws form their 38 games which wasn't quite enough to keep them up. Still they did beat teams like Villarreal, Real Madrid and FC Sevilla so they can cause upsets and they had two seasons in La Liga before this relegation.

The team was founded in 1930 and since 1970 it has played at the Montilivi stadium which has a capacity of 13,450. I'd say it is a club of similar standing to AFCB, but interestingly they are owned by Man City's parent company the City Football Group.

They have been looking at the English leagues over the summer and have just bought Spanish midfield player Samu Saiz from Leeds United.  Other new signings include Marc Gual is a striker on loan from Sevilla FC and a Spanish U21 player and defender Pablo Maffeo who is on loan from VfB Stuttgart.

Alex Granell, 30, is the captain and a Spanish midfielder who has been at the club five years. He has said he longs to take Girona back to La Liga, but also says his future at the club is uncertain. Their top scorer is Cristhian Stuani, 32, who is a Uruguayan and scored 21 goals in 2017/18, fifth top scorer in La Liga and 19 goals in 2018/19. His strike partner is  Anthony Lozano, a Honduran who joined the club in 2018. Jofre Cherta, 18, is one of the club's young players who signed an extended contract this summer to keep him at the club to 2023. 

Last season Girona's manager was Eusebio Sacristán who arrived at the club in 2018. He has previously managed Real Socieada and Barcelona B.

The new coach is Juan Carlos Unzué who was previously at Celta Vigo. he won his first match at the club this summer against in a pre-season friendly against Al Arabi of Qatar winning 1-2.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Is the way clear for Surridge to make an impact?

With the likely departure of Lys Mousset to Sheffield United (he has not left AFCB as I write this), there is potentially a bit more space for Sam Surridge to put his case forward at the Cherries. While he will find a starting place hard to come by with a fully-fit Callum Wilson and Josh King, he has a real shot at vying to be the first substitute.
Sam Surridge could be a surprise package next season if
he is allowed to stay at AFCB and is not loaned out.
I say that because Dominic Solanke hasn't made a massive impact in his first six months on the south coast. Eddie Howe will probably see Solanke as his go to striker, if Wilson or King did get a knock, but with Mousset expected to leave there could be a great opportunity for Sam Surridge, and if he did find his feet in the Premier League it would be a great advert for AFCB's Academy.

Surridge would have to do better than any other AFCB player that has come through the youth ranks in recent years. I suppose Danny Ings would be the top prospect that AFCB never really saw much of at the top level, but now that the club is in the Premier League players coming through could become top stars very quickly.


Eddie Howe looks like he's made a decision not to bring in the more expensive players this summer and it has opened doors for the likes of Surridge. We just need to see him and a few others grab the opportunity. There is still time for Surridge to be loaned out, and that is something he would have to deal with again if it happens. But I'd be very excited if I were in Surridge's shoes right now, as the opening looks to be there for him to stake his claim.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

AFCB's French striker to join Blades

It came as a surprise yesterday that AFCB had agreed a price of £10m for Lys Mousset to join Sheffield United rather than Celtic, according to BBC Radio Solent. The Frenchman has found it hard to get playing time at AFCB, but it must be a gamble for Sheffield United to hope that Lys can become a big star for them in the Premier League.
Lys Mousset could soon be in Sheffield United colours.
For the Cherries, Mousset is another young player that Eddie Howe and his coaches have worked hard to try and improve. The transfer fee seems reasonable for Mousset and what he has achieved so far, and the extra money that AFCB are starting to accumulate is starting to look like some good business depending on what they do with it.

Of course, Mousset could be lining up against the Cherries on the first weekend of the new season. if this deal goes through as expected. I always felt that Mousset had some natural talent and an eye for goal, but that he didn't win over Eddie Howe. That's just my opinion looking on. Mousset may say he did everything he could to get into the team, but for whatever reason he wasn't making much progress at AFCB, and with the arrival of  Dominic Solanke last January, Mousset's time at AFCB as always likely to be up soon.
It wouldn't surprise me if Mousset did well at Sheffield United and we saw a player that we haven't really seen at AFCB. He has an incentive to do well. A fresh start at a club that has the main aim of staying up and if he can score goals he'll soon become a hero. That would excite me as a player much more than being reduced to being a sub for most games at AFCB, so I wish Mousset all the best of luck. He is prepared to take up a new challenge and perhaps the Premier League will be better for him at Sheffield.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Wilson and Fraser's finishing sees off Dons 3-2

AFC Bournemouth took on AFC Wimbledon in La Manga last night. It was the Callum Wilson show first half with two well crafted goals for the Bournemouth striker, the second being truly magnificent as he lobbed the keeper. Ramsdale also made a good save in the first half to keep the clean sheet. A second hand change of team brought fresh legs to the game. But Bournemouth started to make mistakes. Gosling gave away a penalty and then a handball gave Wimbledon the chance to make it 2-2 from the spot which they did. It was left to Ryan Fraser to get the Cherries out of their predicament against a Wimbledon side that were stronger in the second half. Supremacy regained, there were not so many scares as the game came to a close.
Wilson is in goal hungry form.
The Cherries settled into the game in the first five minutes, passing and moving well and Kelly put in the first meaningful cross on two minutes which Wimbledon's keeper held on to. Wilson and Solanke found each other quickly up front and the team looked fairly fluent in possession. 

Wimbledon did get forward town the right and Connolly put in a cross that was headed wide by Roscrow on four minutes. Wilson got past the keeper on six minutes but couldn't get his shot on target having been forced wide.

It was Bournemouth doing the chasing after nine minutes as Wimbledon got into a groove. Adam Smith had a couple of difficult moments getting caught out at right-back. Mepham looked good coming forward and he found Solanke who drove a shot on target from just outside the box on 13 minutes which the keeper saved low in front of him.

There was probably a bit more coaching than normal form the sidelines. It took Wilson until the 15th minute to break through off a David Brooks pass and round the keeper to put AFCB 1-0 up.

Arter's passing started to find some gaps - he was wearing number 88 - double as good as usual! Brooks put in a super low cross on 19 minutes but it didn't find an AFCB foot on the six yard line. Dobre put a cross in for Solanke on 21 minutes but the ball didn't drop fast and Solanke just volleyed into a defender. Dobre then tried himself from distance but shot wide of the target.

Wilson got free again on 24 minutes and put a cultured chip into the top left corner of the goal to make it 2-0. That was just too classy for  Wimbledon and wouldn't have looked out of place on the international stage! Quality finishing.

After half an hour the players had a two minute water break before getting on with the game. Kelly got down the left and tried to get Wilson in at the near post but there was no space for Wilson to complete a hat-trick. 

The game was slowing down and getting a bit ragged after 38 minutes. Passes were going astray from both teams. David Brooks hadn't had many touches but was doing the work in his own half well.

Wimbledon's Rudoni got in down the right but Ramsdale made a smart save from his cross. Arter was doing an exceptional amount of running, but Wimbledon were forcing the play close to half-time.

Second half
AFCB's second group of players took to the field. Gosling made a hash of control from a throw pulling his man down (Folivi) and game away a penalty. Wimbledon's Folivi scored form the spot against Begovic.

Fraser burst through the Don's defence after working with Ibe, but dragged his shot wide on 49 minutes. Wimbledon had a second penalty when a cross came off Stacey's hand. The penalty as calmly scored by Wimbledon's top scorer Joe Pigott 2-2.

Bournemouth are pressing again as we go into the 55th minute. Fraser wins a free kick on the edge of the box and looks to take the free kick himself.  The keeper makes a sharp save to his right.

Wagstaff pulls the ball back and a shot comes in from Wordsworth that Begovic is behind. Ibe put in a fast cross that Surridge could not got on the end of. King made Surridge another chance seconds later, but it was hit straight at the keeper with an hour gone.

A good move by Folivi left the ball in Pigott's path and his shot went wide off the right post. It was a warning that the Dons fancied their chances of a win.

Bournemouth were finding it harder to play out from the back. But Gosling had a snap shot after some controlled play around the box that the keeper fell on to his left. 

A good run almost saw Wimbledon take the lead but the ball ran along the six yard line with no finishing touch on 74 minutes.

Bournemouth strike again with Ryan Fraser slipping the ball  under the keeper having taken a long ball from Aké to make it 3-2. There's been no water break this half and some players are starting to blow a bit.

The Cherries are trying to control the game now in the last 10 minutes. Wimbledon are having none of it through and are winning possession back. Pigott tries a shot on the turn, but it's right at Begovic. There are some tired legs out there. Gosling makes a good block.

The Dons have a free kick but Pigott heads wide. Fraser stays down after a strong challenge. He gets up eventually. That's it 3-2 to AFCB.

There is a lot for Eddie Howe to ponder after that 90 minutes. AFCB had the game under control until the second half. Wilson's goal power is something the team will rely on but with him and Fraser doing the damage you wonder who else is going to step up and get some goals- King and Brooks were fairly quiet. While the penalties could have ending up costing the Cherries the game, they team fought hard and got the vital goal from Fraser in the end. The fitness levels will improve, but AFCB don't yet show a sign of being more solid in defence. But it's early days and not all the players were available.

Ramsdale 12, Smith 15, Mepham 33,  Simpson 25, Kelly 26, Brooks 20, Ofoborh 38, Arter 88,  Dobre 54, Solanke 29, Wilson 13 (C)

AFCB Second half
Begovic,  17 Stacey, Aké 5, Rico 21,  Cordner 25, 4 Gosling, Ibe 10, King 7, Butcher 36 , Fraser 24, Surridge 44. Kilkenny

AFC Wimbledon
Nik Tzanev, Kyron Stabana, Terell Thomas, Rod McDonald, Nesta Guinness-Walker, Dylan Connolly, Anthony Hartigan, Jack Rudoni, Mitch Pinnock, Adam Roscrow, Kwesi Appiah

AFC Wimbledon Second half
Nathan Trott, Will Nightingale, Paul Kalambayi, Anthony Wordsworth, Luke O’Neill, Scott Wagstaff, Shane McLoughlin, Joe Pigott, Michael Folivi.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

AFC Wimbledon test should be a big watch for AFCB fans

We haven't seen much football for a couple of months now and the chance to see some of AFC Bournemouth's players running about in a proper pre-season friendly should start to get fans in the mood for the new season. For Aaron Ramsdale it could be quite a game if he gets selected to play against a team he was on loan at from last January.
Let's see who plays in the AFCB kit against AFC Wimbledon.
There are not too many names in the AFC Wimbledon squad that I recall as being players to watch out for when AFCB were climbing the leagues. But Scott Wagstaff had five games for the Cherries back in 2008 and has played many games for Bristol City and Gillingham before moving to the Dons. In a memorable FA Cup run last year, he dyed his famous beard yellow and blue after BBC Football commentator Mark Clemmit challenged him on Football Focus to the dare.

The Dons top scorer last season was Joe Pigott who scored 18 goals. So he'll be a player that AFCB have to look out for. Another player who could be influential at the back is the Don's new defender Luke O'Neill. He was formerly with Gillingham and plays at right-back.

It's Bournemouth's new players that we'll hope to see doing well. Lloyd Kelly looks fast and light in his feet, while it will be interesting to see if Jack Stacey is a powerful addition to the right side of defence. Just seeing what pairings Howe picks for this fist game will give us an indication of how the early period of training has gone for some individuals, although we can expect lots of changes as the players look to build up their fitness.

In other news, keeper Mark Travers has signed an extension to his AFCB contract taking him past the summer of 2022 it is believed.