Sunday, 31 January 2016

Cherries to get another chew on the Toffees

Roberto Martinez may not consider the league away match against AFC Bournemouth as one of his fondest, but for the Cherries snacking on the toffees will be a very sweet reward for beating Pompey in the last round. Today, Everton made their way to the fifth round tie against AFCB by knocking out flood struck Carlisle Utd 0-3 and while the Merseyside club will make it hard for AFCB to progress, there is a certain satisfaction that at least this is a home tie.
It's Everton and we're at home!
AFCB was the second last ball picked out of the draw and it was good to see that Mark Lawrenson finally did something right in picking ball 13. Home advantage will play an important role as Everton will not be able to bring that many fans and should be very much out numbered in terms of fans on the day. Having seen a thrilling 3-3 draw between both sides in November, there will be a lot of excitement for a few goals in the FA Cup clash. The sides are only four points apart in the league and I'm sure Eddie Howe and the team will look forward to this game.

The full draw is shown below, the games will be played 19-22 February 2016:

Chelsea v Manchester City
Reading v West Brom or Peterborough
Watford v Leeds United
Shrewsbury Town v Manchester United
Blackburn v Liverpool or West Ham
Tottenham v Crystal Palace
Arsenal v Hull
Bournemouth v Everton

Iturbe is starting to see what he needs to deliver

Much of the eyes at Fratton Park were directed on Juan Iturbe. The Argentine play maker has had a tricky introduction to English football and getting him up to pace maybe the coaching squad's mist challenging task this next couple of months. There is pressure on Juan and on the staff to make this loan move a good one and while there is much work to be done we could see that there is potential in Juan to be that star player that AFCB want to deliver to the Premier League.
Juan looked a much better prospect at Portsmouth on Saturday.
Juan was propelled into the cup tie against Pompey in what would be a real test of his fitness and also his aptitude for getting stuck in and holding his own against a side that were not going to give him space or be afraid to put in a tackle or two. To his credit Juan quickly found the pace of the game and much of the Cherries' early good work came through him. He was the sparkle in what was a subdued first half from AFCB.

The moment that almost saw Juan get his first goal for AFCB was a heads up on Juan's technique and quality when he is given a bit of space. Standing on the edge of the penalty box he shifted his feet quickly and hit a very fast shot that had to be saved. It is a shame that it hot the post rather that found the bottom corner but you have to give the keeper the credit for that.

It was other parts of Juan's game though that took me a bit by surprise. He was winning headers, holding the ball up and really taking the fight to Pompey. It was a change from what we saw in his first game against West Ham. Yes, it was a lower level game but I just think this was more like the Juan Iturbe performance that has probably been seen in training and if so then it won't be long before he is pushing for a place in the team. He can track back and he does not hide from the ball. I have big hopes for him and if he can get a few games in the cup as well as coming on in the league matches he could soon start to find his song is sung a little more often from the stands.

The Cherry Chimes Newsletter will be out tomorrow.
Cherry Chimes' February Newsletter  brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month, plus there is a special Newsletter article entitled: Can Grabban be even better second time around?

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Cherries' subs edge past spirited Pompey in Cup 1-2

Match Report
FA Cup
Portsmouth 1 v 2 AFCB
30 January 2016
Attendance 18,901
The FA Cup reaches the Fourth Round.
The cold win blowing through Fratton Park was not going to spoil this spectacle. While Pompey were pumped up for another upset against higher league opposition, they perhaps just ran out of steam when they had taken a first half lead through a super passing move that saw Gary Roberts take his time to pick his spot past the last defender and a sprawling Adam Federici. There was always a probability that the Cherries would improve though and sure enough a double substitution that brought Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh into play turn the game on its head with a 12 minute spell and headed goals from Josh King and Marc Pugh. It was clinical, it was maybe getting out of jail, but it was certainly Premier League quality that sunk Pompey in the end.
The fans start arriving at Fratton Park. 
A Pompey mascot greets the crowds.
Tommy Elphick gets ready for the choice of ends.
The team line ups for AFCB are never easy to work out in these cup games with only Adam Smith keeping his place from the last league game. The big news was the return of captain Tommy Elphick and a chance to see new signing Juan Iturbe as well as the return of Josh King, while Baily Cargill continued his apprenticeship in the Cup.

Interview with Pompey fan Deano.

Pompey had Ryan Foulton make his second appearance in goal and put out a strong team with Adam McGurk, Ben Close and Christian Burgess making starts. There was a fitting minute of applause for the passing of former Pompey player Ray Pointer, a former England international player, before the game kicked off.

Can Pompey win it?

AFCB players wait for Baily Cargill out of shot.
Pompey in there huddle.
More match photos are on Match Day Gallery.

First Half
It was going to be a big day for Sylvain Distin making his return to a former club and he was not going to be given an easy ride. As early as the second minute he was having to put in a last ditch tackle on Marc McNaulty as Pompey came forward with real purpose. McNaulty was certainly making AFCB's back four look nervous and his shot on six minutes from the edge of the box only went a whisker wide of Federici's right post even if a flag for offside did go up belatedly.

Pompey had made the better start. AFCB looked to the fresh face of Juan Iturbe to take their game forward. He took charge of an early free kick after Adam Smith had draw the first of many fouls and delivered a good flighted ball into the box as he was to on several other occasions.

Meanwhile, McNaulty dropped his shoulder and span away from Sylvain Distin even though he could not find a finish as Smith returned to cover.

Pompey were looking in charge though as the quarter hour approached and Adam McGurk had a shot blocked before Adam Smith conceded a corner. Josh King then made the clearance with Pompey fans claiming handball - I think it was ball to hand but would not have been surprised if it had been given.

Portsmouth were winning the second ball and Iturbe found himself getting caught in his own half. The ball fell to McNaulty again and he shot from the edge of the box, a low shot that had Federici diving to his right at full stretch to glove around the post.

Not everything was going Pompey's way though and Burgess received a yellow card for a foul on Glenn Murray. From the free kick that O'Kane took, Murray rose well and headed an effort just wide – the best Bournemouth chance up to that point!

Elphick and Cargill were playing well at the back and were starting to read the Pompey runs a little better. Cargill stood firm when Roberts had broken through the midfield trap and Baily plucked the ball from him like it was child's play.

With 27 minutes gone AFCB had a corner after a run from Josh King. The ball was crossed deep where King tried to hook it back and as Pompey cleared, the ball landed at the feet of Juan Iturbe on the edge of the box. He just took a simple touch and fired at goal, with his left foot, and Foulton got a slight touch on it, so the ball incredibly rebounded off the post when it so nearly might have given the Cherries the lead.

Smith was having a real battle with Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens and he was not winning that many scrambles with them. A couple of more free kicks taken by Iturbe upped the pressure on Pompey but Foulton was not being made to work in the Portsmouth goal.

Bournemouth were doing most of the chasing now with Pompey retaining possession well but not really going anywhere it seemed. Then after a bout of keep ball that ended back with Foulton they came forward again with a pass from Bennett to McNaulty that opened up the right side, and his cross on the sped across the six yard box to Roberts who adjusted his footing before firing Pompey 1-0 up! Portsmouth had probably been the better side in the first half and they deserved their slender lead.
AFCB subs during half time.
Second half kick off
Second Half
AFCB knew that had to do things much better in the second half. There was no immediate indication that things would come right though with Murray and Cargill misunderstanding their movement early on and losing possession. Macca was chasing in midfield while O'Kane was not always picking a pass well.

Distin at least was winning headers and making it harder for Pompey to extend their lead. O'Kane was being stringer in the challenge now and while AFCB made progress with MacDonald and King on the left the referee got in the way and Pompey were off on another break.

A Pompey free kick taken by Davies came off the wall and bounced in front of Federici but he clung on well enough. Grabban made a super layoff around the centre spot for MacDonald but Bennett was in and he raced towards goal, releasing Roberts who crossed right across the goal but there was nobody there to finish it off.

With an hour gone and Pompey still one goal to the good there was a lot of work to do for Eddie Howe and his team. The passing just wasn't good enough and far too many mistakes were being made. So Ritchie and Pugh came on for Murray and Iturbe on 62 minutes, while Gareth Evans and Adam Webster replaced Roberts and Burgess.

The improvement for Bournemouth was almost instantaneous. Ritchie's first couple of touches just raised the standard of what had gone before. The players picked up and started running at Pompey more directly. King pt in a cross on the six yard box that Webster had to clear hastily. Pugh then made a cross that King headed wide.

Another Bournemouth move on the right ended with Grabban blazing over! It was like something had switched the light on in the AFCB players and they just needed to find the finish. That came soon enough. Pugh was fouled by Davies, right near the corner post, and won a free kick. Eunan O'Kane took the kick and he picked out Josh King who made an early run to the near post and his glancing header beat Foulton and equalled the scores 1-1.

There were 19 minutes left and now it was going to be a question of who wanted it most. MacDonald gave away a foul dead centre in front of goal and 25 yards out. Bennett was to take it and clipped a shot over the wall, but Federici caught it and held it just under the bar. Pompey were still giving it everything with Bennet having a wide shot and McGurk shooting wildly into the stands. Moments later McGurk was subbed by Ben Tollitt, while Tommy Elphick made way for Simon Francis.

With 10 minutes to go it was Bournemouth that had started to play the more controlled passing football. A cross from Ritchie on the right was met by a heel flick from King, which left Grabban in with a sight of goal but he took long moving the ball from his left to his right foot and Clarke and Webster closed him down and forced the ball out for a corner.

Moments later from the corner, it was Pugh who was free on the left and in the box he sent in a shot that Foulton saved with his legs. It was all AFCB as they pressed for the winner. Pompey just couldn't hold out. Grabban sent in another thumping shot on the turn that Foulton could only knock wide and into the path of an on running Pugh, who headed back across goal and even with Webster on the line the ball ended up in the back of the net - 1-2!

With five minutes to go AFCB just tried to be solid and with Distin at the back they achieved that and the four minutes of added time passed with the Cherries holding the ball down in Pompey's last third of the pitch.
Josh King and Eunan O'Kane applaud the supporters.
Matt Ritchie, Macca and Eddie Howe.
A difficult game, as AFCB knew it would be. Pompey played well above their League Two status and if they had built on their first half lead they may have won this game. One-nil was never enough though with the quality that Eddie Howe could draw upon from the bench. In top gear the Cherries can be remarkable but a higher gear is something that perhaps Pompey still have to add to their game. That said, Eddie Howe will be well pleased to come through this tie as Portsmouth were the better team for much of the game and some of AFCB's players who needed the game showed exactly why they have not been the ones grabbing the shirt in the last couple of months. More sharpness from games like this can only help them though. Getting through to the fifth round though is something that is rare in AFCB history so well done to all the players on this achievement. Good luck to Pompey in your promotion attempt this season.

Federici, Smith, Elphick (Francis 76), Distin, Cargill, Iturbe (Pugh 62), O'Kane, MacDonald, King, Grabban, Murray (Ritchie 62)

Allsop, Simpson, Ritchie, Pugh, Butcher, Francis, Wakefield

AFCB Ratings
Federici 7, Smith 7, Elphick 6, Distin 7, Cargill 6, Iturbe 7, O'Kane 5, MacDonald 5, King 7,
Grabban 6, Murray 5

Fulton, Davies, Burgess (Webster 62), Webster, Clarke, Stevens, Close, Doyle, McGurk
(Tollitt 77), Roberts (Evans 62), Evans, Bennett, McNulty

Pompey Subs
Jones, Webster, Naismith, Barton, Tollitt, Chaplin, Evans

Ref Watch: Mike Dean - let too many challenges go unpunished. A possible missed penalty against Josh King in the first half - some would have given it - glad he didn't. 5/10

Two People predicted the correct score of 1-2 to the Cherries in our score prediction game. We had to draw the names of Vikki Barringer @VikkiMinxymoo Leighton Reeks @fifaaddict2012 out of the hat and the winner was Vikki - so well done to her - an AFCB wristband is on its way to you!

Transfer Watch
The Daily Echo has reported that AFCB are trying to sign back Rhoys Wiggins from Sheffield Wednesday as cove for Charlie Daniels. I know it's staggering news!

Cherries agree fee for Rhoys Wiggins

I woke up this morning somewhat shocked and had to rub my eyes a couple of time before re-reading the headline on the Bournemouth Echo that the club was said to be in for Rhoys Wiggins at Sheffield Wednesday. It has been apparently clear all season that AFCB have been missing a left back with Tyrone Mings being injured so early on, but Wiggins was not a name that immediately came to mind as a stand in although Eddie Howe likes plucking players who have played for the club before and in Rhoys Wiggins he may not have picked the most popular player with the Cherries' fans.

Rhoys was keen to get away after the play-off defeat with Huddersfield Town in 2010 and his transfer request was not much liked by the fans. He went to Charlton and has since played for Sheffield Wednesday but has struggled to get in their side.

AFCB have made a bid for the former Bournemouth left back and that has been accepted by Sheffield Wednesday. On the pitch, Rhoys has a talent for making attacking runs and whipping in lots of crosses and committing defenders with his pace. Always received as the biggest boo boy by AFCB fans in the last few years it will be interesting to see how he gets on when he comes back and if he is forgiven as Eddie Howe certainly has faith in him that he can do a good job if called upon in the Premier League.

Like Lewis Grabban, Rhoys is a player that may not have been seen as crucial for the club to be reunited with and yet if it is these former players that make Eddie Howe and the team feel more secure and rekindle the fighting belief that they feel they need to stay in the Premier League then I would hope that everyone gets behind the whole team including any signings. They are playing for AFCB and trying to achieve something that has not been done before for the club. We need to be in this together and we back the manager and his signings. UTCIAD!  

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Keeping unbeaten is key now

The Cherries might not have won against Sunderland, yet they didn't lose either. An away point is usually a good point in the Premier League and AFCB can take some solace in the fact that they have gone a couple of games unbeaten again.

The points are always important. A clean sheet was not possible this time but Eddie Howe will note that his back four restricted Sunderland to 10 shots. As an away team I'd say that was a solid performance and I am sure Sunderland will not have been pleased with that.
The Cherries will be trying to get that winning run going now.
The next three league games are ones where AFCB will have to be on top form to get more than a few points with Palace away and Arsenal and Stoke at home. But these three games where the team faces a different kind of pressure. While Eddie Howe will ask his team to try and win every game, not getting beaten will be very beneficial in any of these games. Being hard to beat is a great quality and no team is going to keep winning every game.

The Cherries' record against the bottom teams is not sensational but it is vital that they don't add any more defeats in the games to come against Swansea, Newcastle and Aston Villa. If they can remain unbeaten against those teams then they will be edging towards safety.

AFCB have now drawn seven games and some of those matches were drawn from very different positions. The Everton game is probably the most positive, followed by the away match at Leicester. Sunderland would probably fall into the bottom sector of draws along with the game against Swansea. Yet all of these matches have provided important points that should not be under valued.

As for remaining unbeaten, that challenge continues today in the cup against Portsmouth. The team need to be ready for a Pompey side who will come at them and try to unsettle them. There is nothing Pompey would like to do more than beat the Cherries even if they say it's not a derby. AFCB's stature has grown. The club is a Premier League side and while Pompey have a much bigger fan-base they will not like it if their team is out-classed at Fratton Park. But AFCB don't want to be heading to Selhurst Park having been knocked out of the cup. I'm going for a narrow 0-1 away win but what do you think? See you there - UTCIAD!

@SteveFletcher33 has a new role at the club - 1st Team coordinator. I expect we will hear more about that in the next few days.

Score Predictions
Can you guess the correct score line for Portsmouth v AFCB this weekend? Get your predictions in to @PeterBell19 on Twitter and follow. Entry is free and if more than one person has the correct score we pick the winner from a hat. The prize this week is an AFCB wristband.

Make sure you continue to visit Cherry Chimes' site sponsors whenever you can Broomhill Garden BuildingsNatterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Can't wait for the Pompey FA Cup game ?

The FA Cup should always be cherished and while AFCB have an important league game on Tuesday night, it will be pleasing to see some of those who did so well for the Cherries in the last cup game against Birmingham. The young players never seem to get much of a chance in the Premier League with so few matches in the season but these cup games offer a real chance to impress and to measure their progress.
Birmingham was good but Portsmouth will be electric for AFCB fans.
Portsmouth are no push overs either. I expect this game to be harder than the match up at Birmingham as there is a bit of a derby edge to the game, as well as the big home crowd who will get behind Pompey and provide a fabulous atmosphere with our own fans. The Pompey fans will have plenty to cheer about as well. They played with great strength against Ipswich and will be desperate to build on that. Marc McNaulty and Conor Chaplin have been scoring plenty of goals and look to be very lively in and around the box. They also have Adam McGurk who signed for them from Burton Albion last summer as well as Matt Tubbs who has been out of late with a foot injury.

There is quite a balance of new look and old about this Pompey side now under the leadership of Paul Cook. Kyle Bennett could well start in midfield and he has an England U21 cap, while we might also see former Cherries' favourite Danny Hollands in the centre of the park in blue.

Although Portsmouth lost to Oxford Utd in their last match at Fratton Park, their home form has been strong with three league wins in their last five. So getting to the fifth round is not going to be a simple prospect and Eddie Howe will have to be careful about the amount of experience he puts in the side for this game as their are some clever players at Portsmouth who have seen it all.

Among AFCB's squad there are players that need a game though and I get the feeling that Howe will back up his starting line up with some big first team subs for this one.

AFCB possible line up
Federici, Lee, Elphick, Cargill, Smith, Iturbe, O'Kane, MacDonald, King, Grabban, Murray

Allsop, Distin, Francis, Ritchie, Arter, Pugh, Goodship

Score Predictions
Can you guess the correct score line for Portsmouth v AFCB this weekend? Get your predictions in to @PeterBell19 on Twitter. Entry is free and if more than one person has the correct score we pick the winner from a hat. The prize this week is an AFCB wristband.

Make sure you continue to visit Cherry Chimes' site sponsors whenever you can Broomhill Garden BuildingsNatterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

Rival Lines: expect a Cup shock!

Rival Lines
Match Preview: FA Cup 4th Round
Portsmouth v AFCB
Blogger Interview:
Twitter: @Pompey_Fans

This week I tried to find my old friend at Pompey-Fans,com only to find he had taken a job at the club itself and so he kindly put me in contact with Steve Bone who writes for the matchday programme and the Sports Mail as well contributing to

CC: Pompey beat Ipswich Town in the last round of the FA Cup after a replay. Did you always feel that you could beat them and just about any team at Fratton Park and in an evening game?

PF: I think many in the Pompey camp were confident, because we'd beaten Derby and run Reading close in early-season League Cup games under the Fratton lights. I must admit, I thought Ipswich would win the replay – we'd outplayed them at Portman Road and I felt they'd strengthen their team. But they didn't, and they paid the price – we deserved the win and it was a great occasion.

CC: Is it slightly more appealing to face AFC Bournemouth these days – even though we are not the Saints or the Seagulls – you have not had a result against us for a little while?

PF: No we owe you one – though it is not that long since we were doing battle with you in League One; now here we are three divisions apart. Pompey fans were delighted to draw Bournemouth – it's a Premier League team at home and, no disrespect meant to the Cherries, but it's one we feel we can give a run for their money. And I'm still smarting from the 2-0 home defeat you inflicted on us in front of the TVS cameras in October 1982!

CC: The season Pompey are having indicates that the P word may start getting whispered, but are you worried about having to catch up in games with the FA Cup run taking up some playing time?

PF: Some are worried an extended cup run will hit our league hopes, but I don't think it has yet, or would even if we got through this round. Any further (which is unlikely anyway) and it probably would. Promotion is the big hope for all Pompey fans this season – some say anything less will be a failure – but Paul Cook has enough decent players to rest two or three when he needs to, though he has played a virtually-full-strength side in the Cup so far.

CC: What main changes has Paul Cook made to the team since becoming manager?

PF: Just the goalkeeper, defence, midfield and attack! He has basically ripped up last season's squad and started again. Apart from a couple of players, the likes of Adam Webster and Danny Hollands [Ed- an AFCB legend!], last season's lot have either been released, sold or left to play for the reserves. Even Matt Tubbs [Ed- oh no, nothing he would like better than to score against an Eddie Howe team that he could not get into!], a prolific scorer at L2 level, has not played much as he does not seem to fit into Cook's preferred system. The squad needed a big overhaul and Cook has got on with it in a no-nonsense way.

CC: We have seen how good League Two is of late with teams like Pompey and Exeter playing well against higher opposition, but do you feel there are many players in each League Two team that could be playing at a higher level?

PF: It's a funny league. There are a lot of teams who are simply not very good and rely on the physical side of the game, while the teams pushing for promotion are all, I would say, similar in terms of quality. And I'd expect more and more Premier and Championship clubs to take a punt on L2 players because of the 'Vardy factor'. Even last week, we saw a couple of very good Oxford players – Liam Sercombe and Kemar Roofe – and they're the sort you'd expect to see play at a higher level. As for Pompey's better players, hopefully their higher-division chances will come with us.

CC: Who is Portsmouth's most dangerous player as it seems the goals are getting spread around the team this season?

PF: You're right – we don't have an outstanding goalscorer. Marc McNulty looked like he might soar to the top of the goal charts after arriving on loan from Sheffield United but his have dried up a little. Conor Chaplin has scored a good number for a player who very rarely starts. I'd say our most dangerous player in attack at the moment is Kyle Bennett, a skillful winger who has grown in confidence in the past couple of months and has racked up plenty of assists – though he'd probably admit he'd like to score more himself.

CC: What signings have Pompey made this January?

PF: All we've done at the time of writing is extended a couple of loans – McNulty and Ipswich defender Matt Clarke – while also recruiting 18-year-old goalie Ryan Fulton on loan from Liverpool. I understand we've been trying to get striker Caolan Lavery back for another loan from Sheffield Wednesday -–we had him from October 'til the start of 2016 and he's done really well, but he's currently back with the Owls. We have also recruited Sheff Utd full-back Kieron freeman on loan – it's popped up today. He can't play Saturday – appeared for Blades in R1.

CC: Do you think Pompey have still under achieved so far this season?

PF: I don't think we've under-achieved, or over-achieved. You can't expect to run away with a division when 80 per cent of your team have not played alongside one another. I still think a top-three spot is achievable, but if the play-offs end up being our route forward, we'll have to cover our eyes and hope for the best. Finishing outside the top seven probably would be rightfully called failure, given the size of the operation we are running.

CC: AFC Bournemouth are unlikely to play too many of their first team in this game and Pompey may rest some players too, but have you some good young players that deserve a go in such a match?

PF: You may well see any of the following either starting or, more likely coming on - left-back Brandon Haunstrup, calm and cultured midfielder Ben Close, winger Ben Tollitt, or pint-sized poacher Conor Chaplin. And Pompey fans won't mind at all if Eddie Howe rests a few – though they would like to see Sylvain Distin and Matt Ritchie, both of whom are much admired by Fratton fans and should get a great reception (along with Howe, who incidentally I've written fondly about in the matchday programme – yours for £3!)

CC: How do you see Portsmouth lining up for the game?

PF: At a guess – Fulton in goal, Davies and Stevens the full-backs, Burgess and Webster centre-halves; Close and Doyle deep midfield; Evans, Bennett, Roberts the three attacking midfielders, McNulty up front. But Cook may have a surprise or two in store for us at 2.20pm!

Score prediction? 2-1 Pompey with a late Tollitt winner.

CC: Thanks very much Steve. It is good to hear a confident Pompey fan. It sounds like the season has been pretty enjoyable down at Fratton Park so far and if promotion is gained there should be quite a party there. It's down to Cup business this weekend though and I admit that Pompey have a chance of an upset if AFCB's select 11 do not play with a cutting-edge. AFCB have had a bit of a run out though in midweek and some of the first team will be involved, so I think the Cherries in the away stand are also looking forward to this one – let battle commence! A fifth round draw would be very exciting for either club. Check out and their lead up to the south coast Cup tie this weekend.

Transfer watch
AFCB signed 18-year-old Lithuanian keeper Marius Adamonis on loan until the end of the season from Atlantas. Eddie Howe has been linked with Mr Abromovich's Chelsea manager wishlist by the Daily Telegraph - but we know that's a non-starter!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

A blindspot in Cherries' goal scoring chart

It will not have escaped the stat keepers that the Cherries have a bit of a blindspot when it comes to scoring goals between the 29th and 51st minutes of games this season. While it may just be one of those things, you wonder whether the fast starts that the team so often make in scoring nine goals in the first 15 minutes is something that contributes to a slowdown in chances being taken in the latter parts of the first half.

Is it down to the way the team comes out an attacks teams early on? I find that a bit strange considering that when the team has had a break at half time and comes out to play the second half you might expect them to have the same problem. But that's simply not the case, with the Cherries netting late second half goals against Chelsea, Everton and West Ham to name a few.
Finding the net is proving a problem late on in the first half.
Analysing the recent match against Sunderland is an example of when the Cherries took their foot off the pedal to some extent and the Black Cats had a stronger end to the first half. It was similar in the match against West Ham at Dean Court. It is probable that other teams have difficulty in matching the Cherries' attacking zeal in the first 20 minutes of games and perhaps start to find a way to better cope with the passing game that AFCB play after this initial period.

AFCB have always looked to put crosses into the box though as much in the latter part of first halves as they have in other periods of the game. Not scoring the second goal has become a big deal for the team though and a cause of frustration for Howe. If he can work out if the team can play with more energy in the last part of the first half then maybe the good starts will start to be backed up with more wins.

Score Predictions
Can you guess the correct score line for Portsmouth v AFCB this weekend? Get your predictions in to @PeterBell19 on Twitter. Entry is free and if more than one person has the correct score we pick the winner from a hat. The prize this week is an AFCB wristband. 

Make sure you continue to visit Cherry Chimes' site sponsors whenever you can Broomhill Garden Buildings, Natterjacks Vets and AltamiraDeco.

Have AFCB done enough business in this window?

This is a question that Eddie Howe and the club's investors must be pondering now as we enter the last few days of the January transfer window. Once the door closes that will be it until May and it is such an important second half of AFCB's first Premier League season that the ability to spend must be balanced with the need to try and build on what the squad has sensibly and not to buy just because the club can.

Already though we have seen AFCB bring in Juan Iturbe for £1.1m on loan, Benik Afobe for £9m and Lewis Grabban for £7m making a total spend of around £17m, which is more than many clubs have splashed out on. Norwich have signed four players (Naismith £8.5m, Klose, Pinto and Godfrey-18-yr-old), Newcastle have brought in two (Shelvey £12m and Townsend £12m), but Swansea have not yet signed a player and Sunderland have signed (Harper free , Kone and Dame N'Doye on loan).
AFCB got their business done earlier but is there one more to come?
What Eddie Howe wants to do is bring in players that are better than what he has already in the starting 11. It's no good having players that are not going to contribute and the 25-man squad will have to cover any injuries. The recent injury to Junior Stanislas has questioned whether Eddie will go back into the market again, perhaps for QPR's Matt Phillips but if Junior is only out for a few weeks I can't see the point of this as we know Junior can play well at this level and bringing in another untested Championship player is costly and untried.

At the back AFCB have Tommy Elphick coming back and the only lack of cover is really at left back for Daniels. But the Cherries have not been linked with any players in this position which is surprising unless we consider Adam Smith playing that role if he comes out of the starting 11 to allow Elphick to come in.

The midfield has been helped by the return of Josh King and Juan Iturbe's signing, while Lewis Grabban can also play out wide if need be. There has been no move for Jonathan de Guzman who now seems a possible signing for Swansea or Capri.

Goals are what the Cherries require more than most and Benik Afobe and Glenn Murray will soon hopefully be supported by a returning Max Gradel some time in February, but I still believe their is a space left for another striker having seen Kermorgant leave and Tomlin go out on loan.

Sadly, it does not look like Callum Wilson or Tyrone Mings will be back this season.

So I see the 25-man squad being something like this at the moment: 

Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Smith, Daniels, Arter, Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Pugh, King, Murray, Afobe, Gradel, Stanislas, Iturbe, MacDonald, O'Kane, Grabban, Distin, Rantie, Allsop, Federici and one new signing to come? plus Cargill U21 player.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Plenty of passes - more AFCB chances needed

You can't help but agree with Harry Redknapp that this Bournemouth side plays some beautiful football in games. They are easy on the eye and can pass all day long it would seem, but they do need to have an end product as we have often said before. Against Sunderland there was a finisher on the pitch in Afobe, but the side did not find him easy to find when he was being so well marshalled.
Stanislas and Afobe linked up well for AFCB's goal in the first half at Sunderland.
I don't blame AFCB from playing their passing game and trying to keep the opposition on their heels for as much of the game as they can. Other teams can't hurt you when you have the ball. But many sides this season have found that playing more on the break has been profitable and when Sunderland started to come forward and attack the Cherries more in the second half, I thought it would help AFCB's prospects for winning the game.

Sam Allardyce is not stupid though ad he made his side sit fairly deep and John O'Shea kept a close eye on Benik Afobe for most of the match. AFCB probably needed a bit more trickery and that special bit of magic like Ritchie provided in the home match if they were going to win up at the Stadium of Light. It may be that in future games that Eddie Howe uses Juan Iturbe to try and turn these kind of close encounters, but I don't think there was a great deal more the manager would have done differently up at Sunderland as it was an important game not to lose as it was to try and win.

Picking moments to put certain players on the pitch is a chance to change the pattern of play and to try something different. This was not a game though where Eddie wanted to experiment too much. The side was well in the game and but for one moment could have easily come away with all three points. The possession game was almost a total success and there will be other days when it is more advisable to take more of a risk.

Transfer Watch
Well we did not have to wait long to see where Lee Tomlin would end up. A season-long loan to Bristol City is pretty swift action by AFCB.

Sunderland - a missed opportunity for the Cherries?

The only pity about the match against Sunderland was that the Cherries could not punch home their early dominance and, of course, the injury to Junior Stanislas. That the team did not get three points was not unlucky as they did not create enough to take the game away from the Black Cats. 
AFCB still have plenty of big games to come.
Before the match, Steve Cook mentioned that a positive result could have seen a nine point gap open up between the teams and that was surely the message sent out to the players before they ventured out on to the pitch. While a win would have been a massive three points it was much more damaging to Sunderland that they did not make any ground on the Cherries in a home match. AFCB basically have a six point start in the remaining games on Sunderland and maintaining that margin of a lead is very significant.

Sunderland will have thought that they could get a win in front of their own fans and the way their team started will have been very disappointing for Sunderland fans to have witnessed. Their biggest encouragement is that they managed to get something out of a game where they looked like they may get battered after the early stages of the match. How many of their fans will have been happy coming away with a point from that game though?

So while there were more points on offer, AFCB need not well too long on the Sunderland draw. It's a point that is bagged and we move on to the next one knowing that the gap has been maintained and there is one less game to be caught. Beating the bottom teams has not come easy for AFCB and while the team still awaits it first double over a Premier League team, it is the remaining games against Newcastle, Swansea, WBA and Aston Villa that appear the most critical now - oh and I forgot Chelsea too!

Anyone know where Tomlin will be Saturday?

Lee Tomlin has had one of those weeks. I can't say if he has blown his opportunity to play at AFCB again or not, but if the club does not include him in the squad at Fratton Park then we'll know the reason why.

Social media is not always a player's friend these days and if Lee has fallen foul of it he won't have been the first or the last to have misjudged the situation in a rash moment of finger typing. Lee would certainly be a strong candidate to be picked for the FA Cup against Portsmouth if he was fit and was in everyone's good books. He needs games, everyone understands that, but I wonder if he'll be able put his head down now. Josh King was picked for the U21 match in midweek along with Juan Iturbe who rattled in a hat-trick, so with that kind of competition for places Eddie will not be short of options for Saturday's match if Lee is given time out to reflect on matters.
Out of favour Lee Tomlin is already being linked with
Leeds Utd and Hull City of the Championship and now Bristol City as well.
While the FA Cup may be seen as a proving ground for players though I'd like to see some of the other youngsters get a chance on Saturday. Jordan Green or Brandon Goodship could be among those who could make the bench and might get some exciting news this week if they train well. Now that Yann Kermorgant has departed, and Tokelo Rantie was injured at Birmingham, there should be doors opening for others. It is only right that hard work and ability be rewarded and we have already seen Jordan Lee and Matt Butcher benefit from playing in the last round of the FA Cup. We can see that Callum Buckley had a few minutes in midweek against Gillingham's U21 side as well as Keelan O'Connell and Jordan Lee. The big plus points though was to hear that both Josh King and Tommy Elphick came through the game okay.

The management of players is always a key aspect of running a successful football club and while Eddie Howe must reconcile the desire for the club to progress in every competition, he also has to balance that with giving the players that deserve it the opportunity to play. I think the squad selection for the Pompey match will be keenly observed.

Transfer Window swaps!
Just in case you do want chuck a few AFCB players out of the squad, have a go at the betway Premier League 16 Swap Shop. You can Tweet and Facebook your three swaps - not sure about the starting 11 for AFCB or the limitless budget, but it's just a bit of fun.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Gosling frustrated about box decisions

Dan Gosling's interview with BBC Radio Solent after the Sunderland match took on a familiar theme in respect to his clear disappointment at some of the decisions that players were making in and around the box. The players work on that though all the time and, when they are up against international defenders, they must know that they are not going to always find it easy to find a way through.
Dan is focussed on making better decisions in and around the box.
The play makers in the team are the ones that need the quickness of thought and Gosling himself is probably hardest on himself when thinking that there were better decisions to be made at times. My mind goes back to one part of the game in particular though when Junior Stanislas was fed the ball on the edge of the box and might have made one more pass to Arter who was in a great shooting space. Instead Junior shot himself and leaning back put the ball high and wide with a heavy sliced shot. There is no guarantee that Arter would have scored, but players don't get a coupe of seconds to think would it be better if I did this or that. It's more often instinct and on this day some of those instant decisions were just the wrong choices.

The options that Eddie Howe has on the bench included O'Kane and Iturbe, but they did not get a look in on this occasion. Sometimes I do like the directness of Adam Smith and Eunan O'Kane who often just run at the heat of defences to draw fouls and do something different to the switching of play from side to side with possession passing. A little more of that just may open up some of these teams in future games.

I mentioned before the game that AFCB needed to unpick Sunderland's organisation and in the end, it was just a puzzle that slammed shut. The team can find the answers though in future games.

My latest Shoot blogger article is now out - Cherries miss Tommy Elphick.

A snatched Sunderland equaliser was always a possibility

While it is always an annoyance when AFCB let in a goal, Eddie Howe will have been particularly disappointed about the way that Sunderland managed to get something out of the last game. It is hard to know why teams switch off for a second or two at crucial moments but it happens, and when a team is defending a throw on 45 minutes and protecting a lead, all minds should be ensuring that they are goal side of their man and that simply did not happen at the Stadium of Light.
AFCB are still finding it hard to build on early leads.
Sadly, it happens all the time. When one or more players are just expecting the referee to blow for half time and a rest is near, there is always a danger that it is the wrong time for players to take their mind off of things. In too many games, some 14 points have been lost from winning positions for AFCB. If the Cherries could have just halved that rate they would be sitting far more comfortable in the top half of the table.

It is hard to be too critical of the team though in this first Premier League season. They will begin to realise that the quality of other teams means any lapse in concentration is an invitation to be hit with a goal and the goal that Patrick van Aarnholt scored on Saturday will no doubt be replayed many times at Dean Court in front of the players.

Eddie of course is right that the side can't expect for a home team not to have the ball at times and to threaten our goal. There can be games though where over confidence can bite hard and this match was going well enough that perhaps the players were not really switched on to seeing the Black Cats possibly finding a way through. You are never safe though at one-nil or even two-nil. 

While there was a reaction to Sunderland's equaliser, the Cherries found it hard to carve out more than a couple of strong chances in the second half and that may also be something that will be looked at. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Afobe: two in three - not a bad start!

Benik Afobe has every reason to have felt that there was a lot of pressure on his young shoulders. He has come straight into the side with Josh King being injured and even Lewis Grabban and Glenn Murray having to wait behind Benik to get some minutes on the pitch. 
Benik Afobe is starting to take chances in this team.
Fortunately the goals have come nice and early for Benik. A blank against West Ham was quickly followed by two goals in the last two games and both different types of goals being a volley and a header, but instant finishes. The noticeable thing about those goals though is that Benik was served those opportunities. They were not created by him alone, but both Charlie Daniels and Junior Stanislas provided the crosses for Benik to thrive on.

I suppose Glenn Murray would similarly like to be on the end of crosses like those, but you can see why Eddie is favouring Benik at the moment. AFCB's number 20 is very good at bringing other players into play and his ability to hold up the ball is some of the best I have seen in a long while. We have seen Benik play with Lewis Grabban for a short period but it is not yet known what Eddie favours if he did decide to play two up front in games from the start.

When Josh King is able to complete for a place again he may be more of an aide for Benik than Grabban in Eddie's eyes. It is the combination of how strikers work best together that needs to be evaluated and while Grabban we know can be effective at leading the line, he'll be learning how he can be more effective paying alongside Benik for a little while yet. I wouldn't say it's been an instant success and we may find that Josh King and eventually Callum Wilson change the thinking of Eddie Howe again.

For the moment though, Benik is well ahead in the pecking order and while he keeps scoring there won't be anyone suggesting that he should not start games.