Monday, 30 November 2015

Junior deserves high praise

Well what a birthday weekend it was for Junior. He has been ramping up the mood ahead of the game by saying the players need to repay the fans and boy did he manage to do that with some aplomb. His aim has been to arrive in the box at the right time to get some goals in the last few matches and while he came close on a few occasions against Newcastle and Swansea, it all came together for him against Everton.

Junior got his reward on Saturday.
Twinkle, twinkle little star may be the signature tune that Junior Stanislas is now recognised with, but his abilities have always been higher than something to be heard in the nursery school play yard of the lower leagues. He seems to be a player that saves his best for the top stage of the Premier League and he is coming into his own on the left wing. Far from looking out of sorts as he did when he first came to the south coast, Junior is now part of the main show and from here things just might get even better for him.

It would have been easy for Junior to have become disillusioned with his lack of games for the first team in the last year. He just has not had a run of games with Ryan Fraser and Marc Pugh in sensational form for most pf last season and Eddie Howe needed Junior to step up and bring his A game to the table, which he has done. With Josh King moving to the forward position it has been marvellous to see how well Josh and Junior have been linking up and creating the movement at he top of the field that has added a new dimension to the Cherries' game.

It was clear in pre-season that Junior was desperate to have a bigger part to play in this team. He was top goalscorer in the summer and he has always been a player that can take his chances. Now that he is on a run he will be even more confident and this could be a really good time for him and his Bournemouth career. Well done Junior! Keep it going.

PremierTalk suggests that Watford deserve more headlines but perhaps AFCB are also now turning into better street fighters in this division.

All Departments reviews the amazing 3-3 draw with Everton. Listen in by visiting All Departments Website or scroll down to the soundbar on Cherry Chimes.

Despair to jubilation for Cherries

Saturday was a lesson in never giving up and never leave the ground before the final whistle is blown. Such late drama is what makes football a special game. AFC Bournemouth v Everton is one match which will long live in the memory, not only for Junior Stanislas and Ryan Allsop, but also many AFCB fan who are still rubbing their eyes after the last few minutes of that game.

When five minutes of extra time were held up on the board I don't believe that anyone in the ground really thought that there would be such a crazy finish. Some spectators were even leaving the stadium to ensure they got to their cars quickly - what a mistake that was. With Stanislas also scoring in the 88th minute it appeared that if anyone would win the game it might be the Cherries as Everton had been pegged back. The Toffees must have been deflated with the 2-2 equaliser and for them to go on, and put themselves back in front, with Ross Barkley's turn and scooped shot that went under Ryan Allsop, I just felt that the Cherries aren't going to get any luck this season. Kris Temple said it all when he said the Cherries were sunk! Amazingly though he was wrong.
AFCB players came back strongly to draw with Everton.
How wrong I was. I suppose the Everton fans pitch invasion and a further sub by Martinez gave the referee Kevin Friend enough justification for adding a bit of time to the five minutes he was supposed to play in extra time. The huge impact that the Cherries will get for their tremendous last attack will carry them along way now. Adam Smith again showed that he can upset sides with his powerful dribbling and the move with Charlie Daniels and Stanislas' finish was outstanding for its quality, which everyone has neglected to say. Everton might have been out on their feet and thought the game was won, but AFCB's spirit was immense to come back again.

It might not have been three points, but it felt like a win following the point against Swansea when the Cherries had been two up and been pegged back. Sadly it has not pulled AFCB out of the bottom three, but the jubilation of the fans and players was great to see and if that enthusiasm can carry on through to training this week the games against Chelsea and Man Utd may not seem so daunting now.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Late Stanislas show at the Vitality stuns Everton 3-3

Match Report
AFCB 3 v 3 Everton
27 November 2015
Attendance: 11,228
Junior Stanislas repays the fans with a brace.
A late rally by the Cherries saw them make an incredible comeback in the last gasp seconds of added on time to snatch a point, when it looked like Ross Barkley had secured all three points for the Toffees with his strike that had put Everton 2-3 up in added on time. Where the extra time came from after Everton's last goal is a question that Roberto Martinez will agonise over, but don't suppose that AFCB did not deserve this draw. 

Everton had gone ahead after Funes Mori headed in unopposed from a corner on 25 minutes and that lead was doubled when Lukaku raced his way by Steve Cook and blasted in his shot past Federici. It seemed ominous at 0-2 down at half time, but with Ryan Allsop coming on in goal and Adam Smith replacing Steve Cook the Cherries set about their task with real belief. Josh King was unplayable at times and when the goals came they were a bit special, starting with Adam Smith powering a shot from 25 yards past Tim Howard and into the top coroner with 10 minutes to go. A second Cherries goal tied it all up with Junior Stanislas sliding in from six yards as he got on the end of a Josh King cross. But nothing had prepared the crowd for extra time when Everton had it all sown up only to see two points dropped, when Charlie Daniels ended a determined run with a cross that Junior Stanislas powered into the net with a flying header. It was sensational, a beautifully created move and the Vitality Stadium was ringing with jubilation as the home fans celebrated a breathtaking finish to the game.
The players line up.
The two captains in the middle.
There was an unchanged AFCB team named for this game from the previous Swansea match. Eddie was giving faith to those who had earned the Cherries a draw in Wales and it had already been made known that Pugh and Boruc would not be available for there returns yet.

Jason Tindall gives the team news.

There are more photos on Match Day Gallery

Kone, Bartley and Stone.
The Cherries warming up.
I sat down to take my chair for this game wondering whether it would be the same old story. AFCB to dominate large parts of the game only to see a side with quality strikers score when the Cherries made a mistake. As it was, I was encouraged by the first 20 minutes. The Cherries were taking the game to Everton and while there was the odd misplaced pass it was the Cherries who went close first with Stanislas jinking his way into the box and sliding a pass to Dan Gosling who shot agonisingly just wide of the far post. Only three minutes later it was Stanislas who was the provider again, but this time for Matt Ritchie who tried a curling shot from the edge of the box with his left foot that was struck right at Tim Howard.

Everton were going to be combative for sure. In the middle of the park they had Ross Barkley who was built like a bull compared to the lightweight cut of the Cherries and on the right was the fast footed Gerard Deulofeu who was going to give Charlie Daniels a match to remember.

King and Ritchie were probing to make a killer pass and it looked as though Gosling may have done just that for Josh King when the No 17 striker let go a drive that Howard had to be sharp to save, down to his right on 13 minutes.

Everton were not going to sit back. They soon had a corner won by the mischievous Deulofeu and while Federici punched clear, it was as he landed that his ankle seemed to give him a problem, while Steve Cook also went down injured on the edge of the box. The stretcher was made ready and it looked doubtful whether Federici could continue, but he tested his ankle and decided he could go on. This stoppage though broke the rhythm that AFCB had worked so hard to set and Everton started to build more pressure with another corner.

Things started to go horribly wrong when Simon Francis then messed up a headed clearance knocking it straight into the path of Arouna Kone who got his snap shot away, but only found Federici who made a save on the angle at the near post. The following corner almost opened the scoring as Lukako headed the ball at the far post back towards goal and Federici and Josh King managed to clear the ball off the line. Everton were in control now and forcing Federici to test not only his ankle but also his reflexes and shot stopping agility. James McCarthy then brought out another save by Federici on his right side.

AFCB were hanging on, but from the corner at the back was Ramiro Funes Mori who leapt high and powered a headed back across goal to Federici's top right corner. It was like an arrow and hit the back of the net - Everton were 0-1 up. Again the Cherries had let a goal in from a set piece.

It would be easy for the AFCB player's heads to go down but Surman and Gosling were still channelling balls forward and King was racing here there and everywhere to try and make something out of nothing.

Then on 36 minutes, Everton broke down the right with Deulofu supplying Lukako with a run at Steve Cook. While Cook did what he could to slow down the powerhouse striker, he just could not deal with the pace and power and with Federici to beat, Lukaku smashed his shot in at the near post and the Cherries were 0-2 down. It looked like history repeating itself again, small mistakes that were getting punished - were Everton just too powerful for the Cherries to contain?

Steve Cook almost lifted the home side when he came really close to scoring with a header that was just cleared off the line in time by John Stones from an AFCB corner. The game stopped for a while as the fourth official had a word with the referee but we'll never know what the problem was. The last five minutes of the half saw Josh King offering himself for the ball most admirably in the tightest of positions with Everton players always around him, and Harry Arter taking a go at a swiped volley that fell well wide of the target. With Gosling hitting his pass too long and out for a goal kick, nothing was quite coming off for the Cherries and a 0-2 scoreline reflected the shots on target and accuracy of Everton over AFCB's attempts on goal.
The first appearance of Annabelle Bear.
Ryan Allsop comes off to go on at half time.
Second half
Eddie Howe made two subs at half time enforced by Adam Federici's ankle swelling up and Steve Cook also replaced as a tactical change. On came Ryan Allsop to make his Premier League debut in goal and Adam Smith to add energy to the right back position with Simon Francis moving over to centre back. I was worried for Ryan and his nerves, but I needen't have worried. Ryan got some early touches as the Cherries kept the ball at the back, and he settled into teh game well.

Not a lot was happening up front though apart from Ritchie's tame shot right at Tim Howard on 50 minutes. Everton were also not getting clear strikes on goal with Seamus Coleman seeing his shot deflected and easy for Allsop to gather. The referee Kevin Friend was starting to come in for some stick from the home fans with his free kick decisions, Adam Smith being the usual casualty. Things livened up further though when Arter, in the box, found Daniels who hit his shot sweetly only for Howard to save to his right, just before the hour.

At the other end Lukaku was beating the ground having missed a headed chance from one of Coleman's crosses. The Cherries were battling well though with King in particular taking the fight to Everton and Stanislas taking aim and winning a corner from a deflected shot. The Cherries were playing some good stuff again with Gosling and Stanislas making life difficult, even if John Stone was always there to clear up for Everton.

Martinez had to make a change though with his midfield becoming less effective. On came Tom Cleverly on 68 minutes for James McCarthy. The Cherries' luck was not getting any better though as Ritchie struck a clean volley only right at Tom Howard from the penalty spot. The wind had blown lots of litter on the pitch by now and the AFCB players were having to avoid that as well as the tackles that were reigning in now. Arter found it hard to get up after one of them and had to go off on 76 minutes as Glenn Murray came on.

Josh King was still astounding everyone as he kept close control and beat two players on his way into the box. But it was a corner won by Stanislas that led to the Cherries' first goal.  The ball came back out from the near post to Adam Smith, who was wide on the right, and while he was some distance outside the box he moved forward and shaped himself for a shot. The crowd willed him to shoot and he obliged with a stunning shot that soared into the top right corner of Everton's net! It was 1-2 and 10 minutes to go - game on!

The goal had an immediate lifting benefit for AFCB. The players strode forward in even more deliberate ambition and when Adam Smith went sprawling to the ground in the box, the shouts for a penalty were raucous. The referee said no though and Dan Gosling went furious after Kevin Friend then gave a free kick to Everton. Dan was of course in the book for that.

When Ritchie, Surman and King built up a move though for the fast running Daniels coming up on the overlap, everyone held their breath as the full back swung his leg back and shot a volley just wide on 85 minutes. Had Everton escaped? Well, not for long as King took on Galloway and a sharp cross found Junior Stanislas gambling on arriving at the right time and he steered his shot past Tim Howard to deafening shouts from the home crowd, 2-2 on 87 minutes! He celebrated by diving full length near the corner flag - the Cherries were happy with a point.

Five minutes of added time seemed about right, but what unfolded in that time and perhaps a bit more was unbelievable. A big scramble in AFCB's box saw Ross Barkley and Kone in the middle of the action. The ball got stuck around Coleman but fell kindly to Barkley who smashed home the ball when it ran free to make it 2-3. Everton's fans went delirious. Surely their team had one. It was to be another tough lesson for the Cherries we thought.

With the restart held up by another sub, as Gibson came on for Kone, it was probably Martinez's first mistake as it allowed the referee to give the Cherries a few more seconds. All I remember then was Adam Smith coming across field to pick out Charlie Daniels who raced down the left flank and put in another fabulous cross that was gobbled up by the on rushing Junior Stanislas, who had headed it in to make it 3-3. What had we just seen? It was a comeback of epic proportions.
So many GOALS!
Bournemouth and Everton players at the final whistle.
Adam Smith is congratulated by the staff.
It's hard to know where to start. At home and 0-2 down by half time, and lucky perhaps that Everton had not found top gear, it was a difficult place to be at the Vitality on half time. The injuries to Cook, Federici and Arter are all very unwelcome at this stage, but for the moment Eddie Howe will be able to celebrate a fantastic battling performance by his players who never gave up and took an inform Everton side right to the final round. It may not have been a heavyweight contest, but there was plenty of Fury from Roberto Martinez on the final whistle and the final knockout blow from Stanislas will give AFCB players the confidence they need going into the next blockbuster games against Chelsea and Man Utd.

Federici, Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Gosling, Surman, Stanislas, King

Allsop, Bennett, Smith, O'Kane, MacDonald, Kermorgant, Murray

AFCB Ratings
Federici 7, Francis 5, Cook 6, Distin 6, Daniels 8, Ritchie 7, Arter 6, Gosling 6, Surman 6, Stanislas 9, King 8
Another strong performance from Josh King.
Allsop with Dan Gosling and Eddie Howe looking on. 
Adam Smith with Shaun MacDonald.
Howard, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway, McCarthy (Cleverley 68), Barry, Deulofeu (Lennon 86), Barkley, KonΓ© (Gibson 97), Lukaku

Everton Subs
Robles, Gibson, Mirallas, Lennon, Naismith, Cleverley, Osman

Ref Watch Kevin Friend: He was no body's friend and really wound the AFCB players up with his decisions as well as the crowd. Yet the game was thrilling and he gave the Cherries time to have on last attack, following an Everton pitch invasion, so I'll give him 5/10. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

A win would make Eddie Howe's birthday

I was very honoured as an AFCB fan to be invited to my first press conference yesterday as I listened to Eddie Howe preview today's match against Everton and to shed some light on how the training had been going this week. There were only a few journalists present as a Friday conference does not attract so many media contacts when they just have an evening before the game. But there was one impression that certainly came across clearly to those hanging on Eddie's every word - he won't have much of a happy 38th birthday on Sunday if his team does not come away from the Vitality stadium with three points against Everton.

It was also Junior Stanislas' birthday on Friday and Eddie Howe was first to say that he hoped he had a big game. I imagine scoring a goal on your birthday must be better then ever for a footballer and the Cherries certainly need more good fortune in front of goal than they had last home match. Eddie might not be able to score the goals himself, but he'll be celebrating if he wins this one and he feels AFCB are edging closer to a win when considering the last two games.

"Those two games have been right up there in terms of our performances in a long, long time. Dominant with the ball, dominant in terms of chances, just haven't got the elusive goals when we've needed them. Unfortunately we have shipped a couple in when we looked totally safe. So it's frustration on our part, as we feel we are close to winning games but obviously that has to be proved. We have to go out in the nest few games and put that right," Eddie commented.
I was so keen on listening to what Eddie had to say that
I never get round to taking his photo but hey, I'll get hime next time.
"Definitely the effort is there. I've always complimented my players on work ethic, their professionalism, their desire and motivation levels. We hit top marks for all those points. I think where we have mainly fallen down this season is a couple of incidents where luck has certainly played a part and we've been on the wrong side of that for the majority of the season. A few decisions have gone against us and all these things play big parts in games. And, at times we've made individual mistakes that have cost us," said Eddie.

That is not to say that the team is down or not believing in itself. Eddie continued,"I don't see anything other than this team improving and getting better as the season progresses."

Eddie realises that it won't be easy though to upset the likes of Everton. "When you watch them play as we have, they are very impressive which is no surprise under Roberto Martinez. The job he has done at Swansea and Wigan and the way he has stuck to his football plan. He is now developing that at Everton and they are an enjoyable team to watch, " added Eddie. 
AFCB's players are in the background just finishing off their
training before Eddie gave the press conference. Lee Tomlin has recovered but
Pugh and Boruc won't take part in the Everton game.
"For us I'd like to think we are on an upward curve and this will be an exciting game.

"They have a good balance of physicality and pace. I think it will be a difficult game for us. They are a dangerous opponent," Eddie concluded.

A big thanks to Max Fitzgerald for inviting me to the press conference! If things work out I'll do a feature on the Man Utd press conference in a few weeks time. Enjoy the game today everyone. I'm looking forward to this one. UTCIAD!

Other matters
Kelly Somers (@Kesomers) at the club made me aware that Mike Parry of Talk Sport is going to make good his ill judged prediction that the Cherries would not get promoted last season by donating £1000 to Julia's House before the game on the centre circle. If you would like to also support the charity which Eddie Howe is patron of why not donate yourself by buying some brilliant locally scened Christmas cards from their site - just £4 for 10. 

The Newsletter will be out early as I'm travelling next week. Keep checking the blog as I'm not sure how easy it will be to post at my usual times. 

Look out tomorrow for the Cherry Chimes' December Newsletter which brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month, plus there is a special Newsletter article entitled: Has Rantie missed a chance?

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Friday, 27 November 2015

How will Eddie go about getting a win against Everton?

The disappointment of the Newcastle match was soon removed by the point at Swansea but the real test for the Cherries is to win points in back to back games. The importance of the need has been made all the clearer with Sunderland's win at Crystal Palace and while those on the outside may think that AFCB are only going in one direction having dropped another place, the mood in the camp working towards securing another win has never wavered.

Eddie Howe never outwardly says that he worries that much about the opposition but concentrates on his own team and how they are performing. That was made rather evident when he said he did not know who the Cherries were playing in the next few games. I somehow believe that he knows exactly what the fixture list is but does not get hung up on who his players are about to play. It is the analysts at the club that will have done their homework on the opposition and will give Eddie a full brief of Everton's strengths and weaknesses.
The Cherries will be looking to improve their home
form and to get some goals in front of their home crowd.
AFCB will set up to give the Toffees something to think about themselves though. I was impressed with the energy and decision-making in the game at Swansea and that will have to be equally good against Roberto Martinez's team if not better. The midfield battle is going to be a hard now to win in this upcoming game and the Cherries have to keep control there if they are going to keep the ball from Lukaku and Kone up front.

At the end of the day though it will be making Tim Howard have to work in the Everton goal that will determine whether the Cherries get anything out of this game. They'll need to probably get a couple of goals as well as the defence is still not proving strong enough to get clean sheets yet. AFCB can help themselves though in that respect in keeping the fouls down around the box and limiting the amount of corners. In some ways, it would be seen as a big result if the Cherries can just get a draw against a good Everton side and keep a clean sheet. That may seem negative for a home game but if the score is 0-0 or 1-1 after 80 minutes, the Cherries would start to look like a side that can hang on to results and that is something we have not really seen yet. UTCIAD!

The Cherries have to turn good performances into wins

AFCB like all the other teams in the Premier League have 19 games at home and out of the six games already played of those the return of one win and two draws is something that Eddie Howe will be keen to improve upon. It doesn't matter whether it is Everton, Man Utd or Aston Villa on the other side of the pitch there has to come a time when the wins at Dean Court start to help the team to push back up the table. Having had a good result away against Swansea, it is vital that the team now follows that up.
AFCB aren't just looking for a performance, they need points now.
So far AFCB have only managed to get points in consecutive games when they played West Ham and Leicester City, so just to get another result would be a step in the right direction. The home form has not been short on performance levels but the goals have been hard to come by with only five so far and two of those were against Sunderland. The Cherries have looked positive though in all but one of their home matches when they really looked out of sorts against Spurs. The individual mistakes have hopefully dried up, but Eddie Howe knows that he has had games at Dean Court when the team should have come away with more than a point.

Picking up a point or more though against a team like Everton is no simple task. The fact that Everton will try and win the game though could be a help to the Cherries and it should be a much more toe-to-toe encounter than last time out against Newcastle. It will be a chess game though as Everton have the players to exploit the Cherries if they do over commit men forward.

There is also the mental aspect of dealing with the fact that the Cherries could make a great start but defending a lead at home has been a weakness. AFCB were ahead against Leicester Utd, Watford and Spurs, but only got two points from those games. Even more difficult to banish will be the thought of being 0-2 up against Swansea only last weekend and yet not taking all three points. Still, it is a lead that Howe will be trying to get in the first half. It is hard to know what such a success would do for the team, but there is plenty of pointers towards thinking that another home win would change opinions of what AFCB are capable of this season. 

Transfer news and gossip Finally, it is good to see Matt Butcher has a new contract with AFCB. I also see the tabloids are expecting AFCB to make a £6m bid for Crystal Palace Dwight Gayle in January that follows rumours of a similar fee for Norwich's Lewis Grabban quoted yesterday. Those hoping for Bradley Wright-Phillips making an appearance at Dean Court though appear wide of the mark, although I expect more links with MLS players to AFCB.

Everton are riding high

There was a time last season when Roberto Martinez was under real pressure at Everton. He is a manager that has strong ideas on how his team should okay and is now getting the very best out of them. It is almost unbelievable that the toffees ever wondered if Roberto Martinez was the right appointment when he arrived from Wigan Athletic. He has lasted the course and he now has some young players under his guidance that are really amongst the best in the Premier league.
Everton are flying high, but the Cherries will try and pull them down a peg or two.
At home Everton have been irresistible. The 4-0 demolition of Aston Villa sets them up nicely for the south coast meeting with AFC Bournemouth side that have been humbled in recent weeks by some of the heavyweights of the division. Kone, Lukaku and Barkley are just the start of the problems for the Cherries. The performances of Funes Mori on the right and the marauding qualities of John Stone, playing out from the back are something that Bournemouth's players would do well to emulate in time. They also have Scotsman Steven Naismith to come on if they are struggling to open teams up.

For all Everton's strength though they have been prone to falling short of maximum points away from home and AFCB have to make it as difficult as they can for the toffees. That will mean trying to wrestle possession away from them at every opportunity. Everton will be one of the teams that will come and play at Dean Court and it is up to the Cherries to raise their game for the challenge.

Everton have scored in their last three away games and they have already kept clean sheets in away games at Spurs, Swansea and Southampton. It is a big ask for the Cherries to get something from this game, but I really hope that both Dan Gosling and Eunan O'Kane are involved as their determination to do well in such a fixture could yet help provide an unlikely result.

Everton Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Possible AFCB team
Cherries team: (4-5-1) Federici (GK), Francis (RD), Cook (CD), Distin (CD), Daniels (LD), Ritchie (RM), Arter (CM), Gosling (CM), Surman (CM), Stanislas (LM), King (FW)

Bench: (GK) Boroc, Bennett (LD), Cargill (CD), O’Kane (CM), Pugh, (FW), Kermorgant, (FW), Murray (FW)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Cherries are looking more comfortable

Eddie Howe has clearly been working extremely hard with his players during the international break and the way that his team went about the Swansea match was a credit to the town. I can see why he said he was very proud to be the manger after such a display as the players carried the fight to the Welsh team for the whole game and they have found a way to get points once again.

I was not so enthused about the performance against Newcastle as there was no end product from the Cherries. In this game at the Liberty stadium though, I would have been just as praiseworthy even if the Cherries had lost 3-2. It was not just the fact that they earned a point but that they looked a threat for the whole match. There was no nervousness, but a real game plan to get at Swansea, press them high and not give them any time on the ball. It was impressive and the work rate was tremendous.
AFCB need to find some words that inspire them on to some wins now.
AFCB looked by far the better side and there is real encouragement in the performance not only of individuals but of the team's play in general. It has taken a while to rediscover how best to make up for the loss of Wilson, but the team seem to be enjoying itself and it certainly brought a smile to my face. The aim now must be to collect points and while the games coming up are perhaps more difficult there is part of me that has more confidence that the Cherries can start to take points off of teams who they may not have expected to do so at the start of the season. Role on the next game. It is time to test this new found confidence against a very in form team in a home game.

King is learning fast now

I am so glad that the fans have not got on Josh King's case but have allowed him to grow into his task. He has massive shoes to fill and that may have seemed daunting at first to him. He had not been scoring goals, which is not beneficial to any striker and the pressure on him was growing. Now I hope he feels a release and with Junior Stanislas also enjoying his spell in the team there is an evident excitement about how good these players could become, as they are already starting to soak up all the advice and tactics that Eddie Howe and his coaching staff are implying to them.

The international break really gave Josh King a chance to hone his game further as he was not involved with the Norway squad. It was a good time for Josh to work on his game and we have seen the results. Eddie was quick to praise him after the Newcastle game and he has continued to build his confidence which finally resulted in his first Premier League goal against Swansea. What was even more pleasing is that I could see elements of the striker that played for Blackburn and ripped through Stoke's defence last spring. Josh almost scored a replica goal to one of those FA Cup strikes, but for a fine save by Fabianski in the first half at Swansea, when he ran with the ball for a good half of the pitch before holding off defenders and releasing his shot.

I always saw Josh as a good lad who tries hard but perhaps did not extend himself fully. I wanted to see a bit more of a nasty or stronger character to his game when he shrugs off defenders and has the ambition to go on and score. It is there in his game, but we have not really seen too much of it. Eddie Howe seems to be flushing it out now and that selfish striker confidence is starting to come through as I hoped it might. The aim will be to see if he can score a brace or a hat-trick in forthcoming games or to do a Vardy and just keep finding the net. The important point is that he off the mark and can now look to get on a run of goals.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

There's more positivity now about the Cherries

Stuff the Premier League table! It does not look that fantastic at the moment unless you are a Leicester fan. But let's forget about the placings and concentrate on how the Cherries are playing. There is a difference if your team is in the bottom three and not playing well, and a team that has found themselves in that position and yet is playing like a mid-table side. It has taken longer than us fans might have wanted for the Cherries to find their feet at this level, but the signs are that the team can do well in the Premier League now and games are being looked forward to again rather than wondering if the team is going to be able to compete.
AFCB need to start getting points out of tight games.
It may not seem like a big step that has been taken as the Cherries are still only on nine points. Still the confidence that the players will have taken from the matches against Newcastle and Swansea stand them in good stead now. Those two teams might not have an abundance of points either, but they both found AFCB's game very difficult to handle and in the long run they will know that such teams are likely to be picking up points and putting pressure on them as the season progresses. It is surprising how much players subconsciously are affected by past games and that can have a positive or negative influence on upcoming matches. It is not just about the points at this stage.

Still AFCB need to start getting points. Eddie Howe knows that and while the big named teams are lining themselves up for getting in the top four, it is going to be hard to gather points off of some of these sides. Yet the confidence has gradually been building up and there has to be a sense that a good win is just around the corner now. Those players that have come into the side have started to find an understanding and when other players come back there is going to be a bigger pool of players to pick from. AFCB need to take this positivity now into the next few games, starting with Everton.

Early goals set a pattern even if they don't guarantee wins

There has been much focus on trying to get quick leads in games as this season has progressed. The team that scores first tends to go on to win games in more than most games and when your team goes 2-0 up it is safe to say that you can hope for a good day. It did not quite workout like that at Swansea, but it was still vital to get the lead and it should not stop Eddie Howe's team from continuing to take the game to teams.
Fast starts are good but the team must hold on better.
There is a different feeling though to games when, as we saw against Newcastle, you play a team off the park and yet can't score, and ones where you are two goals to the good and fully in control only to find the scores pegged back. For me the Swansea match showed that the Cherries were much closer to winning the game. I never felt that they would lose the match even with the scores being level at half time. The early goals had set a pattern. AFCB knew how they could hurt Swansea and they kept trying to imply that pressure throughout the game. With Newcastle though they never had that breakthrough, and in failing to get a goal it sets doubts in the players that they can score as the game goes on.

Scoring goals has been a problem of late as you have to go back to two months to September before the Swansea game to see when AFCB last scored two goals in a game. So to get two in the first half was a big improvement and demonstrates that the team was more positive in its attacking play than we have seen in a long while. Now I know why I feel so much more confident about AFCB. Goals have simply been in short supply and early goals have been even more of a missing link.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Gosling is now the lead midfield orchestrator

The improvement in Dan Golsing's play has been stratospheric. He has not only raised his game but is driving on others around him and his last performance against Swansea was just outstanding. I can't see the five-man midfield being changed for some time now as Dan simply has to be involved. Arter and Surman likely to add further momentum to the Cherries' central midfield area as well as the trio get to play more games together. It is Dan though that has surprised me and he is starting to lead events now.
Dan has certainly been a big plus in central midfield this season.
 In fact, I think he should be the first name on the sheet at the moment. 
Breaking forward from midfield has always been a strong part of Gosling's game even from his early Plymouth days. We did not see a great deal of it in the Championship, even if he did show his quality in the Capital One Cup. It does not seem right that the Premier League can be more suitable for some players than others, but in Dan's case he looks so much more at ease playing against the best teams. He is helping others too as his hard chasing and running into the box is enabling Surman to pick his passes, while Arter has more time to think about where he can position himself in space. I don't think that the three have quite got their game intertwined as well as they would want quite yet, but it is being worked on and the team look stronger with the three of them in the middle of the park.

Dan's shooting has been a bit hit and miss, but against Swansea he calmly hit the spot with quite an exquisite strike from Ritchie's long-delayed layoff. It was good to see Dan make a late run into the box and Ritchie was very good at not releasing the ball until he felt he could make the right pass. It is clear that Dan wants to get on the scoresheet more often now and other players are starting to look for him entering the attacking third of the pitch. If he keeps striking the ball as crisply as he did though in his last outing, a truly sumptuous strike, I'll be expecting a few more goals to come his way.

All out attack is the way forward for the Cherries

I love listening to the BBC pundits on Match of the Day. They have it all sorted for Eddie Howe. Martin Keown responded to a question from Gary Lineker about what Eddie Howe should do going forward and Martin, who obviously has not been listening to Eddie Howe over the last six months, said he'll have to adapt his style of play because they are leaking too many goals. Well Martin, it may surprise you that AFCB are not going to change their philosophy. If anything, I think they are going to be even more expansive and attacking in their play as the best way for the Cherries to defend is simply to attack.
Junior's touch and vision is making him fabulous player to
watch and his attacking play will surely be rewarded with a goal soon.
We have seen it in the games against West Ham and Swansea that while these open matches carry a risk in the Cherries flying forward it does give them the best chance of keeping the ball away from their own box. The high pressing game is very effective when you don't let a team out of their own half. The closing down and high pressing game is something that the Cherries are getting better at. In away games it is perhaps harder to do and yet AFCB have been doing much better at playing high up the pitch and it is surely the way forward.

Sorry Mr Keown but that does mean you will see Charlie Daniels and Simon Francis peddling their way up the wings rather than sticking on the half way line, and if you look back at the footage it was Charlie Daniels' run in the game against Swansea that started things off for Dan Gosling's goal. In essence AFCB's defenders are better when attacking. Eddie Howe's philosophy is to make the other team defend. It is when AFCB lose the ball that they have to be more organised though. The breakdown is the part of the game that I hope Eddie and his players work hard at this week as Everton will play to try and hit the Cherries fast when they suddenly turnover possession. We have seen Everton do it at Southampton already this season and there has to be some plan to cope with Lukaku, Bartley and Kone when Everton try and break out.

What you won't find is AFCB inviting Everton on to them and letting Everton have lots of possession. As Eddie Howe has said, "defending is not the strong part of our game."

PremierTalk On PremierTalk I ask, are AFCB so dissimilar to Leicester City who sit top of the league?

Finally, it is also fantastic news that Marc Pugh has signed a new deal at the club to keep him at AFCB until summer 2018. I can't think of a more deserving player. Congratulations to Sylvain Distin who made his 450th Premier League appearance on Saturday.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Stanislas and King partnership is refreshingly good

Kris Temple of BBC Radio Solent was right to herald the exciting and expansive play of Junior Stanislas and Josh King in his post match Swansea interview with Eddie Howe. AFCB fans would not have picked these two players as likely starters back in August, but they have grown into their roles and now look like being permanent fixtures in the team as it redefines its identity.
Josh has his goal and can now start looking to get some more.
The forward part of the Cherries game is always one that has excited the fans since Eddie Howe's time at the club. It was frustrating to see that element look so poor against Southampton and Spurs. It was starting to look ineffectual with Glenn Murray not being on the same wavelength as some of the other team members and yet you could not see anyone but Glenn or Matt Ritchie scoring. Now we can see Junior Stanislas coming in off the wing and finding Josh King. The two of them are fluent and fast in possession and the Cherries suddenly have more vision and options in front of goal that is creating opportunities for others like Gosling as well.
Junior has been teriffic on the left and is now an
important part of the Cherries new attacking line up.
It was the away from that had given me more concern as I could not see how the team would find the movement in required from the players that were left in the squad, but Junior Stanislas has added the terror element to his game that Max Gradel has when he goes at goal, and Josh is now unafraid of taking aim and hitting the target. Don't be surprised if we see Josh and Junior getting more plaudits, because they are looking the part at the moment.

AFCB can't keep expecting decisions to go for them

The match against Swansea should not leave a bad memory in Eddie Howe or Simon Francis' minds. The penalty decision was not one they agreed with but there have been  many decisions that have not fallen AFCB's way this season, and I think it is best that the team just comes away from thinking about referees and let them do their job. We know the refereeing standard is poor and that they frequently get things wrong, but dwelling on those errors just brings the mood in camp down, and if AFCB concentrate on the many good aspects of the game that we saw at Swansea I am sure that in future games some decisions might finally start going their way, because the players will be playing positively on the pitch. 
AFCB should not expect any favours from the men in black.
The timing of Swansea's first and second goals were very good for them. They were not really coping with the Cherries' attacking football and there could not have been too much argument about the Cherries finding themselves 2-0 up. When you get matches like this though with two teams that were down on their luck, it is not surprising that the players are yelling for every decision and the officials feel every pressured into making quick decisions. 

When the first Swansea goal went in it was obvious that Harry Arter was far from happy and he and another player were asking the assistant referee how he had not managed to put his flag up. Even at half time it was Harry that came out with referee Andre Mariner all the way to the centre spot, and I don't expect he was talking about the price of coming across the Severn Bridge. 

Simon Francis was publicly more despondent about the penalty decision. He remonstrated with the referee on the pitch and was adamant that it was Ayew's own fault that he tapped Francis' leg rather than the defender making the foul on the striker. I'd argue if I was a Swansea fan that the defender should be careful not to make contact when Andre Ayew was in full flight in the box. Francis could have angled his run differently and if he had gone in shoulder to shoulder there would have been a better chance of him not catching Ayew's legs. Deliberate or not, if a striker goes down having made contact there is going to be a decision to make. It did not favour AFCB and the team simply has to move on with it. 

I was glad to see that the second half still saw AFCB going forward and trying to get further goals, but there was a feeling of Eddie Howe and Simon Francis getting hung up on the penalty decision after the game. Sadly, some things just don't go for you. I don't think fans can expect referee's to be sympathetic to whether there was enough intent or if it was accidental - it's a gut feeling and he either gives the decision or doesn't. My feeling at the time was that it was a penalty.

I wonder what All Departments thought of the penalty decision? To find out and listen to a review of the Swansea match get over to the All Departments' podcast. I think shirt expert Gareth Davies has a different view on the penalty.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Cherries find goals and a point at Swansea 2-2

Match Report
Swansea 2 v 2 AFCB
21 November 2015
Attendance: 20,878
First view of the Liberty Stadium.
The football Gods may have not noticed that AFC Bournemouth could do with some luck now and again. They played with a tempo and energy that left Swansea's players finding it hard to get hold of the ball for much of the game, and having established a 0-2 lead it finally appeared that the Cherries were headed back to winning ways. Unfortunately, the fragile defence shipped a goal from Ayew's back heel in the six yard box, just before the half hour and a trip by Francis on Ayew gave Shelvey the opportunity to level things up from the spot. Swansea had been given a life line and they took it. While Steve Cook probably came closest to finding the net for AFCB in the second half there was to be no winner, but this game offered further reason to believe that the Cherries are starting to find their feet at this level. Josh King got his first Premier League goal and Gosling demonstrated what a midfield dynamo he is.
The Cherries feature on the stadium fixture board.
Team line up for AFCB - I got it right this week (that must be a first!).

Jason Tindall reveals the team news.

The team was set up similarly to the Newcastle game with five in midfield, but with Steve Cook coming into the starting line up at centre back and Adam Smith moving to the bench. That allowed Simon Francis to go to right back and Josh King and Junior Stanislas kept their starting places while Glenn Murray returned to the sub's bench. There was no Boruc or Pugh  though in the 18-man squad.
The teams greet each other.
The teams stand together to honour the French victims of last week.
The French national anthem is played
Swansea made four changes from their last game with Sigurdsson, Montero, Fernandez and gomis dropped to the bench and they were replaced by Britton, Routledge, Eder and Bartley. It was Eder's first Premier League start.
AFCB huddle.

Swansea fans Oscar and Paul appear on Cherry Chimes' FanCam.

There are more pictures on the Match Day Gallery.

The Cherries certainly did not play like a team that had just landed in the bottom three. This was an AFCB side that were showing determination from the start and by pushing up and boxing Swansea in, it was the home side that seemed short on ideas and forced into errors. Right from the start a ball into the Swansea box bobbled and caused a hurried clearance. With Junior Stanislas darting in to the number 10 position from the wing, he was finding Gosling in advanced positions and Dan had the first shot that went wide on four minutes.

AFCB fans were soon celebrating though as Daniels intercepted a pass that Jonjo Shelvey made and gave Stanislas a ball to chase that Yeung and Bartley made a mess of, and Junior crossed quickly and Josh King broke his duck with a smart finish to put AFCB 0-1 upon 10 minutes. Winning the ball high up in the Swansea pass had paid off and it had been a good opening by the Bournemouth players.

Swansea came straight back though. Eder broke away on the right and passed to Ayew and Wayne Routledge found himself clear on the left with just Federici to beat, but the Australian keeper made a super save that went out for a corner. The danger was still there from the corner as Kyle Bartley headed the ball towards the far post where Eder headed towards goal, but again the shot was saved by Federici.

Josh King was clearly encouraged by his goal and was chasing down Swansea's back four whenever he almost made it 0-2 when Britton slipped and King broke free. The striker raced towards goal, beating Routledge and Williams, but his shot was saved low down to Fabianski's right. A move then from Francis on the right swept passed the Swansea defence and Stanislas running in flicked his shot off the post and in (hurray!), only the flag went up for offside and the goal was disallowed (so close!).

Referee Andre Mariner was not helping matters by not allowing advantage when King was fouled and Bournemouth had come away with the ball. Cook and Distin then clashed heads and there was a break in play, but Cook recovered after receiving some attention. Matters became worse for Swansea though on 26 minutes when Bournemouth broke with Daniels who made a long run into the heart of the Swansea defence. He found Arter who passed up a chance to shoot, but released the ball to Ritchie who knocked it back to Dan Gosling, who picked out the top right corner from 18 yards and Swansea were 0-2 down!

The Cherries should have known that Swansea strike back quickly if they can having seen what happened after the first goal. This time AFCB did not get tight on Shelvey who headed a cross on to the feet of Ayew, who back-heeled in from about three yards into the goal, even if the AFCB fans thought he was offside. There was a suspicion that Distin might have played him on though and the goal was given , it was 1-2 after 28 minutes.

Ritchie soon picked up a yellow card after the restart for pulling back Ayew on half way. Swansea were picking up the pace and Ki Sung Yueng's shot was smothered in the box by Francis and Cook with some appeals for a penalty, but the referee did not agree. AFCB resorted to their possession football and yet this game was now on a knife edge with Swansea definitely back in it.

That was made even clearer when Leon Britton who had been starting to orchestrate Swansea attacks found Ayew running into the box and Francis clipped the back of Ayew's heel leaving mariner with a simple decision to point to the spot. It was a clear penalty from where we stood, even if the striker had run across Francis' path. The collision could mean only one outcome. Federici composed himself with a drink behind the goal before facing Jonjo Shelvey, but the England midfielder powered his shot to Federici's left and it was all square at 2-2 on 38 minutes.

AFCB won their first corner on 41 minutes but Arter did not even get his dummy completed, and after three minutes of extra time only a shot wide from Ritchie came close to giving the Cherries a first half lead.
The players come off after an action packed first half.
Half time fun.

Arter and King are ready for the second half.
Second Half
AFCB had 59 per cent of the possession in the first half and things started off in similar fashion in the second. stanislas was yellow carded for a lunge on half way. Arter tried a shot from over 20 yards out but it was deflected and an easy save for Fabianski.

Some of the football was sparkling from the Cherries with Arter, Gosling, Stanislas and King getting straight on to Swansea when they had the ball on their back line. Ritchie was warned after running across Britton and for a second I wondered if it would be a second yellow, but he got away with it.

AFCB's clearest chance came from a corner on the hour when Cook flashed a shot across the goal and just wide of the far post along the ground. The shots were coming still from Ritchie and Cook again, but Swansea were holding on. At times the Cherries play was unbelievably neat and tidy but just needed someone to pull the trigger.

Swansea were also looking for goals and  a move by Yeung had Ayew in the clear but his shot was deflected and Federici saved, with 20 minutes to go. Montero then replaced Routledge and Sigurdsson came on for Britton.

Kyle Bartley who had a fine game was given a yellow card for his mistimed tackle on King and from the free kick it was Steve Cook who fired over. Swansea were visibly tiring and Gary Monk brought on Gomis for Eder. AFCB changed Ritchie for Smith with 11 minute to go.

Swansea were refreshed with their changes and Gomis might have scored but for Adam Smith throwing himself in for the block. Shevley's shot from distance was worse though and went into the stands. AFCB's next change saw Murray come on for King who had been fabulous.

The yellow cards came out again for Sigurdsson and Shelvey after a half way late tackle and then tussle on an AFCB breakaway. Gosling then fired over after Murray had made a nuisance of himself in the Swansea box. On 90 minutes Shaun MacDonald came on for Harry Arter and received a big round of applause.

With four minutes of added on time, Gosling was still running past most players but could not get past Williams. It was a point a piece.
It could have been more than a point but at least
the Cherries were rewarded with something
for a much improved display.
The players after a tight second half.
This was a game that could have been redemption for AFCB if they had taken all three points. While they did not get the win the positives were all clear to see. King is now making the runs that are opening up defences and the front players are much more effective as a unit with Stanislas and Gosling causing all kinds of problems. At the back there is still much work to be done, but Federici is growing into the keeper's role and the team just need to panic less and concentrate more when the ball comes into the Cherries' box. The importance of picking up a point cannot be underestimated even if the team will be disappointed not to have got a win. At last AFCB move off eight points.
Eddie's wave.
The players reflect on the game.
Homeward bound.
A good effort by the lads.
Fabianski, Naughton, Bartley, Williams, Taylor, Britton (Sigurdsson 70), Ki Sung-yueng, Routledge (Montero 70), Shelvey, Ayew, Γ‰der (Gomis 73)

Swansea Substitutes
Gomis, Montero, Rangel, Sigurdsson, Cork, Tremmel, Fernandez, 

Federici, Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels, Ritchie (Smith 80), Surman, Gosling, Stanislas, Arter (MacDonald 90), King (Murray 86)

Cherries' Substitutes
Allsop, Smith, MacDonald, Kermorgant, Murray, O'Kane, Cargill

AFCB Ratings
Federici 8, Francis 6, Cook 7, Distin 6, Daniels 7, Ritchie 6, Surman 6, Gosling 10, Stanislas 8, Arter 7, King 8

Referee Watch: Andre Mariner 4/10 made some poor decisions on advantage and on not giving free kicks for some fouls but did get the penalty right.