Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Will clean sheets start to come for AFCB?

It is at home where improvements are most needed for the Cherries. The atmosphere at home games should help the Cherries, but the disappointments of the past probably play on the minds of some when they put their boots on at Dean Court. I wish it was different, but until the Cherries get a good win at home, they will always have it in the back of their minds that they are vulnerable, even when they are ahead. 

It is getting back to the clean sheets that has been the real difficulty. The team let in too many goals last season and it is the one area where we have not seen any new signings this season unless you include the goalkeeper position and Artur Boruc. The goals that Nottingham Forest scored against the Cherries included a header from a good cross, and it is clear that teams need to be stopped from getting to the byline whenever our full backs can stop them. You could argue that the free kick from Leeds and the goal that Watford scored, after a free kick, were wonder goals, but free kicks are something that also need to be reduced if the Cherries are to give themselves a better chance of clean sheets.
Will Ian Harte keep Charlie Daniels out of the side?
The signing of Artur Boruc is another factor that has been brought in to try and help AFCB get some clean sheets. Even Artur was beaten in his debut by what Eddie Howe described as a "worldy". It may not have been as stunning as Harry Arter's strike in the same game, but Craig Cathcart's volley was good enough to wipe out any hope that the Cherries had of getting a clean sheet. It was disappointing, not only because it meant that three points would not be coming AFCB's way, but a win would have given the payers the lift that they are seeking at the moment. 

We have only seen Artur Boruc in the Watford game and he looked very solid making one outstanding save from a Vydra header, even though it would not have mattered if he hadn't of saved it, as the move was offside. How Boruc does at Dean Court will be key and the early signs are that he comes for crosses and is confident in his decision making. His experience should make the team feel that they are less likely to concede, but it's what the team do on the pitch that counts. We need to see improvements fast now and to regain some of that swagger that makes other teams a little more apprehensive when they come to town.

At Watford, I thought the back four did exceptionally well all game with Simon Francis particularly setting the standard with his industry for the whole 90 minutes. Cook and Elphick seemed in control for most of the time with Vydra kept quiet for long periods, while Lloyd Dyer and Anya did not have as much of an impact as they might have. Ian Harte played as though he never missed the penalty and he does give the team that experience and fight when he is on the pitch that adds to the doggedness of the team. 

I suppose the loss of Elliot Ward is not something that has helped AFCB's preparation in the early part of this season and his return to the team in winter will be a big boost. The experience of the current back four though is not huge with Francis, Elphick and Cook only having played one season in the Championship. Just like other teams looking at our strikers and how they play, opposition teams will also be looking for weaknesses at AFCB's back four and our players have to learn to deal with that. Last season Simon Francis had a few matches where he was getting caught high up the pitch, but he seems to have overcome that and Cook and Elphick have been better at getting blocks in and sensing danger as strikers move across or behind them. The latter was evident in the last game when Watford were stopped from getting many clear chances.

All it needed though was one well directed shot and AFCB's work was all undone. I don't think there was much wrong with the defensive performance of the team at Watford and yet things did not work out in AFCB's favour. The trick is to keeping working and believe that things will change soon. Another good away performance at Cardiff certainly would help.

Being the Third Round of the Capital One Cup tonight, Kyle Cotter has written a special League Cup report on three Premier League ties that you can read on Kyle's Cups.

Finally, for those who wonder how former Championship teams can possibly do well in their first season in the Premier League, I had a look at how Leicester City were getting on this weekend - 'Leicester outfox United'.  Not too bad, by all accounts!   

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