Thursday, 31 March 2016

Will Eddie look at the centre back situation?

Sylvain and Tommy - are they any nearer getting a start?
The two centre half positions have been pretty consistent since the New Year, but having shipped five goals in the last two games there just might be some thought given to whether Simon Francis and Steve Cook are still the best candidates to keep the shirts for the next match or two. There should be some pressure on their places having seen how well Sylvain Distin played in the cup games and with Tommy Elphick keen to get back into the side , he'll be hoping there could just be an opening for him now.

We know Eddie is very loyal to those in the side. Playing against Spurs is not the same as Newcastle Utd and we have seen the difference all too clearly. But the next few games are against top sides and having seen the team fall a bit flat, it may just need a bit of pecking up by changing a starting place or two. This last week has probably been Tommy Elphick's week to try and impress and to put some doubt in Howe's mind as to who he should start.

The side as a whole will need to step up their game. It is from a solid base that the Cherries will earn further points so the selection of the next couple of teams are going to be key for Eddie to get right. It is no good changing just for the sake of it. He needs a positive effect and it will be important to know who is still feeling strong as we head towards the end of the season.

As for Sylvain Distin, I hope he does get another go before the games run out. If this is his last season in the Premier League then he won't want to see it out sitting on the bench. Perhaps if the Cherries get themselves into the 40 point area the manager might look to give one or two a game who have missed out a bit. But the importance of finances probably mean that we will see pretty much the same side play out the remaining games as long as the players remain injury free.

You can read about the questions put to me by the Guardian/Observer last weekend on the Premier League run in. Just visit- Premier League fans' verdict.

The Cherry Chimes Newsletter will be out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' April 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: Defence and midfield must lead Howe's thoughts this summer

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Ritchie is catching the eye

You know you must be a mad AFCB fan when you decide it is better to record the England International and sit back, and relax, rather to see how Matt Ritchie does live in Scotland's international against Denmark. Matt has always been a player that has excited fans and now he is doing it on the bigger stages and sadly for AFCB fans his quality is being recognised by some of the big clubs like Man Utd and Tottenham according to reports in the local press.

While there is not a lot the Cherries can do about the increasing interest in their right winger, it is now that the players and the fans will really see how far this team has come when the players attract bids from major clubs. If Eddie Howe thought last summer was difficult to hold on to players, he will know that it will be even harder this summer.
Matt Ritchie is still impressing when he puts on the shirt of AFCB or Scotland.
Watching Matt Ritchie take on Denmark you could see why he is already becoming central to Gordon Strachan's future plans. He has already won eight caps and is surely going to win many more. Playing in front of a half full Hampden Park, Ritchie put his first cross in from the left surprisingly but it underlined how he is confident enough to move around in the international side. Then he pounced in the seventh minute to give Scotland the lead, benefiting from the mix up between Daniel Agger and Kasper Schmeichel. It was typical Ritchie in that he was not getting the ball very often but as soon as he anticipated a chance he was there to make the most of it. Ritchie almost got his second in the 77th minute but while he met Iketchi Anya's cross with plenty of power, Andreas Christensen made a great block. Matt still received great applause when he came off in the 82nd minute, which is a bit different from the fan reactions he got after his first couple of Scottish games.

Creativity is not something that there is a lot of in the Scottish team and that is why Ritchie is a key element for Strachan. Teams like Man Utd may see that they could welcome such a player as Matt as well though and Eddie Howe is likely to have a battle to keep hold of Mr Ritchie who is one of the players who has just got better and better since joining AFCB.

Meanwhile, Max Gradel also had a good night netting for Cote D'Ivorie against Sudan. Eunan O'Kane also put in 66 minutes for the Republic of Ireland in their draw against Slovenia, while Tokelo Rantie was stretchered off in South Africa's match against Cameroon.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

What can Eddie learn from Spurs?

There are some harsh lessons to learn from the latest defeat. AFCB have not let many first 10 minute goals in this season and playing catch up we know is not the position that the Cherries want to find themselves in. If it happens again it won't be such a shock, but the Cherries will know that they have to be switched on from the very start of these next few contests.
Eddie has lots to contemplate after the last defeat. 
It is very difficult to also control the tempo of the game when you don't have the ball. The match stats are fairly dramatic with just 37 per cent possession for the Cherries against Spurs. No shots on target is a measure of just how dominant Spurs were when they mustered 17 shots. There was basically only one thing for AFCB to do - to try and stem the flow of Spurs' attacks.

Perhaps two up front was the wrong option this time. Eddie was harder on himself than he has been in a while in his post-match interviews, but it was certainly a shared defeat. He may have felt with recent performances that AFCB were ready to take the game to Pochettino's side, but AFCB were well of the pace and that is what was so surprising. Losing narrowly to a good Spurs side would not have caused so much sole searching, but this was a game where Eddie will have to step back and look at it very carefully.

What has worked so well in the recent run did not get going at White Hart Lane. If confidence has been hurt then it may be that the next few games will see the formation closer to what we saw after half time in this game with the extra man in midfield. Player availability will be key though and at home it is important for the side to push forward in games. The results against the top sides at home have seen a draw against Leicester City and a win against Man Utd, but how much harder will it be to get something against Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea at Dean Court? 

This is probably the biggest test in Eddie Howe's managerial career of this season now as getting so close to safety without actually being confident that you have definitely done enough means the pressure remains high and some answers need to be found quickly.

International Cherries
Shaun MacDonald got a run out after 61minutes of the Welsh international friendly with Ukraine. He played in the number 10 role but was unable to do anything to prevent Wales from losing 1-0. Matt Ritchie is likely to be involved in the Scottish friendly with Denmark tonight.

Also out today is the Back of the Net podcast 5.5 - A Quick Peep.

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Cherries should be proud about what they have achieved

While it has been a week of reflection on one poor result, there is no doubt that the Cherries should be pretty chuffed with what they have done in the Premier League. If you need a comparison of how hard it would be for the club to stay I this league then look no further than the road that Burnley have taken in dropping back to the Championship and having to rebuild. They are obviously a good team that did not quite have the quality to stay up last season and yet, some would say they are historically a club that would have been seen as more likely to have survived in the top tier than AFCB who had never reached that level before this season.
A great season for the Cherries can still get even better.
Those at the foot of the Premier League have far more stressful weeks ahead of them than the fans of AFCB. Put yourself in the shoes of any of those teams and every game now must seem like a heat attack waiting to happen if you can't see where a win is coming from and the other teams' results are just as important as your own teams. 

It is a mark of how far the seasiders have come in that we are all disappointed by the game against Spurs. Usually there are plenty of instances during a match where the Cherries will threaten the opponents goal and yet the gulf between the two teams last weekend made it very difficult for the Cherries to play in their normal way. In effect, Pochettino's side dictated how things would be and it was impressive how his team never let up in its desire to get to the ball first.

There is every possibility that the games against the next few teams will be equally tough, but the Cherries have to look at how well they have done in picking up points and matching the 19 points they won in the first half of the season already with several matches to go. They do not want to look too harshly at themselves as it has been a great season and many of the players who we might not have expected to play such a big part in the side have acquitted themselves extremely well.

It could be the end of the road for a few that have been with the club on its rise through the leagues over the last few years as the desire for the club to get closer to the likes of Spurs are going to need many further changes and progression. But that is where the club is aiming to be and it is because the of the players at the club at the moment that AFCB are able to be able to look to have a future like that. 

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Do internationals make it harder for AFCB these days?

With eight players originally called up for international out of AFCB's squad it was quite a big chunk of the side that was not going to be going to the Dubai training camp. With Harry Arter and Josh King pulling out though that number has come down, even if it means the players are on the treatment table rather than joining their teammates. It is arguable that the international breaks are becoming more of a disruption though as the team does better.
Keeping the core squad together during the international breaks is much harder now.
I love to see England play well and while there are no AFCB players in that squad yet, there are plenty of other Cherries international players that are involved for their countries in this period and they will in some cases have long flights. I do wonder if Eddie Howe keeps a close tab on the individual matches, not only from the important point of player form and injuries, but just the manner of the games and how incidents during a game might have annoyed one of our players. Eddie will want everyone to come back enthusiastic and ready to go again and not to have any negative baggage so these international breaks are really important and more of AFCB's players are getting involved in them now.

For those who have been in Dubai it is probably a great time to work with a slightly smaller group and thrash out a routines and strengthen the team bonds. But there is also going to be an interest in how the players who have been called up for their countries are getting on. I would expect the text messaging to be pretty strong during any of the rest times and it is important for those that are not at the AFCB training camp to know they are still involved in things and aware of how their teammates are feeling and what they are experiencing.

It is Eddie Howe and his coaching staff that probably has more problems in having to keep checking up on everyone and providing routines especially for those players he does have under his finger in the training ground. Eddie will have enjoyed coming up with some special sessions for this trip, knowing that it is a chance to do something different and to really work with players on things that he has not normally got so much time to practise.

So while I'd say the international breaks bring their own problems, AFCB can still use them to their advantage. Hopefully some of the younger members of the club have also been able to use more of the training facilities at Dean Court as well while the main team has been away.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Eunan O'Kane is fighting hard to get to the Euros

I was delighted to see that Eunan O'Kane was rewarded for his AFCB performances with a substitute appearance and first full cap in Republic of Ireland's 1-0 win over Switzerland yesterday. It has been a difficult season for Eunan who has not been able to win a regular place in the Bournemouth starting line up in the Premier League, but he has put in some sterling cup performances of late and is now a contender to go to the Euro 2016 competition, which is an excellent achievement.
Eunan could be walking into Martin O'Neil's thoughts
after his appearance against Switzerland.
In the match last night Eunan came on in the 62nd minute for David Meyler of Hull City and while the team had to withstand a fair amount of pressure from Switzerland, they managed to hold out for the win after Ciaran Clark's second minute headed goal. Eunan also came close to scoring in the 90th minute when he hit a right footed shot from just outside the box that missed to the right of the goal. But it showed that Eunan was not overawed by the occasion and could play his natural game at international level. He will now need a strong finish to the season and with his good second half appearance in the match against Tottenham last weekend, he will certainly be looking to try and push for Eddie Howe to include him in as many of the remaining league games as possible.

Of course, one of the players that may just be an obstacle for Eunan making as many appearances as he would truly like is fellow Irishmen Harry Arter, who had to pull out of Martin O'Neil's squad. No doubt the two of them have had big discussions on the possibility of both of them may be playing in one or more of those games in the summer for their country, and it would be amazing for AFC Bournemouth fans to see the two of them playing in the tournament. As it is, I suppose Eunan has a slight advantage at the moment with his national team, and with the fixtures in the Premier League including some of the bigger clubs now, it may be that a five-man midfield gives Eunan more chance of getting some more AFCB game time.
Eunan gets ready to come on against Spurs.
The stats man will tell you that Eunan has played 19 times for the Cherries so far this season but 10 of them were as a substitute. If he can more than 21 or 22 games I would think that he is in a great position to go to the tournament in the summer, and if remains injury free. Martin O'Neil cold also reap the benefit of Eunan not having played as many games as some others in his squad, which means he 's be fresher than most.

Johan Tribute
I can't leave today's post without saying what a great tribute to Johan Cruyff in Amsterdam as The Netherland's took on France. Certainly one of the greatest players ever. I imagine every young football loving school boy and girl has had a go at doing one of his famous turns more than once or twice, as have many other players, but there is something majestic about the way Cruyff beat opponents and just watching his clips back again this week you have to marvel at the skill of the man. He'll be a great loss to all football fans all over the world.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The worst possible kind of start for the Cherries

AFCB have had some quick goals scored against them this season. The Arsenal home game sticks in the memory when the lead was doubled in the period of 72 seconds, but it was rather heart wrenching to see the lads go 1-0 down after just 44 seconds at White Hart Lane last weekend.
Simon Francis and Steve Coook  at White Hart Lane.
The players seemed just as amazed as the fans, but they did not stop trying to play the way the team has all season and that is much to their credit and Eddie Howe's teaching methods. You can drill only so much into a team though and some times they have to stand up to what they face as best they can. I thought all the players were certainly trying their hardest to get some control in the game but Spurs were quicker, stronger and more accurate while their movement was keeping them a step ahead all the time. We have all probably been in games ourselves where you feel you are chasing shadows and that is really how it felt from the start in this game.

AFCB always prepare meticulously for matches. Any team can suffer an early goal. It was the fact that the team found it hard to respond to the first goal, because Spurs were so good that will be more difficult to swallow. The usual rhythm and attacking nature to AFCB's play was simply not allowed to flourish, and when there is no outlet the ball comes back pretty quickly as we saw. Had the team kept a clean sheet and defended well for half an hour it could have become another kind of match where fans thought the big teams are finding it harder to break our back four down. But it wasn't just the back four that was under pressure and the midfield players will have to consider why they could not keep possession for longer periods. I saw Harry Arter trying to understand the instructions he was being given by Eddie to withstand the onslaught, but nothing seemed that clear to understand on the day and the speed of the first goal really destroyed any game plan until the side could come in at half time.

Simon Francis was keen to point out that the players did not want it to be a case of being another chastening experience like the home match when they saw five goals fly past them. It was good that the score did not run up too high. Although at three goals up, Spurs already had what they wanted by then - all the points. AFCB's players do have pride and passion in their performances though and I did see an improved second half performance. Eunan O'Kane and Lewis Grabban were two of the main reasons for that and for players with points to prove this is a good time to get noticed. Let's see if Eunan gets a chance for the Republic of Ireland now that he has the call up.

Loan and International news 
Brandon Goodship has extended his loan at Yeovil Town until the end of the season. While Wales drew with Northern Ireland 1-1, Shaun MacDonald was an unused sub, Ecuador and Paraguay also drew 2-2 but Juan Iturbe was an unused sub and on Wednesday Artur Boruc was an unused sub as Poland beat Serbia 1-0.  Scotland's 1-0 win over Croatia did not involve Matt Ritchie, but he is expected to star on Tuesday against Denmark.

Republic of Ireland play Switzerland today at 19.45 and we hope that Eunan O'Kane is picked to play at Hampden Park.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The heat is on for those Cherries in Dubai

With quite a few players being on international duty it must be quite a select group that have managed to get on the plane to Dubai. But with Harry Arter missing out on teaming up with Republic of Ireland and Josh King pulling out of Norway's squad a few of our players may just be resting up at home in the next few days.
Time to recover and find some more fitness for the last few games. 
I should think a bit of sun will be good for those that make the trip to Dubai. Callum Wilson will be a major beneficiary to top off his recovery in warmer climates while the defeat at Spurs will hopefully seem like a long time ago by the time they come back. When they have some different surroundings to take, I am sure that the Cherries will be worked hard. I have not heard of any local teams that they are playing but they'll probably have some teams lined up like Newcastle Utd did when they went over there earlier this year.

It might have been better if our fans had not known that the trip was coming up before that performance at Tottenham, but you do wonder why the whole team under performed on the day - minds elsewhere? How beneficial a squad camp is though out in the sun is only going to be seen when the team comes back and they will certainly want to show something better against Man City in the next home game.

Whether the memories of the good training camp last season has a positive effect for the run in this season is probably something that the club has considered, but the games still have to be played when they come back. It is a chance to re-focus, get rid of some injury niggles and give one last push to gather a few more points. 

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Matching the top teams will be tough for AFCB

Bridging the gap to the top six has taken better teams than the Cherries many years to do. Of course there is the exception of Leicester City this season, but on the whole it is extremely difficult for the clubs that do have a large fan base to challenge some of the regulars who finish in the top four so it is only expected that the Cherries should find games against teams like Spurs a very difficult challenge at the moment.
Eddie Howe looks on at Spurs and will need to
find ways of being more effective against such top sides in future games.
We have seen get strides made by clubs like Southampton and Stoke City but even perennial Premier League clubs with highly rated internationals like Everton are finding this season very difficult to get much consistency. The fact that AFCB have managed to get runs of six games in November and December and four games in February and March unbeaten in their first season at this level is remarkable in itself. Back to back wins have proved hard enough for Man City so with the Cherries putting runs together they have already made the leap from new boys to plucky competitors and the next step is surely to make the side harder to beat. 

It is only those teams with tight defences that regularly finish at the top of the table. Yes, they score many goals as well but winners have mean defences and it is something that the Premier League is not too great at serving up. Even the best teams have conceded more than 30 goals in most cases which is an average of a goal a game.

The immediate task though for the Cherries is just trying to get enough points to survive this season and these remaining games are key to seeing where strengthening is required. Playing Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the next few games is not going to make it easy to keep the goals against column staying low, but AFCB have enough about them to do better in some of these matches than they did against Spurs.

CherryChimes - Fan interview
This is an interview I did with Benji and Nick two Spurs fans before the game against Spurs so you can get an idea of what Tottenham fans were feeling like before kick off. I apologise that there was a lot of background music.
Benji and Nick.
Click arrow top corner for pop out to listen.

Liverpool match moved
The club announced yesterday that the home match to Liverpool will now be on Sunday 17th April at 1.30pm because of Liverpool's Europa League commitments.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

AFCB were just not on song at White Hart Lane

The Cherries came down to earth with a bit of a bang against Spurs at the weekend. I suppose it is not surprising that every now and again your team is going to have a poor performance no matter who you support, but AFCB fans should not be too downhearted about this one game. The gulf in class was immense on the day and it is something that gives Eddie Howe and his team can now work towards rather than trying to pick too many holes in their own performance.

As it was though there were some aspects of the game that could have been better handled by the Cherries. The first minutes are just as important as the last and you get close to players early on to ensure they don't get an easy ride in their own home surroundings. AFCB just were not fully focussed for whatever reason at the start of this match and they were punished.
AFCB's first visit to White Hart Lane was not
one that will stick long in the memory of our fans.
The second goal was much more to do with Spurs' vision through Delle Alli and Kane's ability to take a goal well rather than slack defending, but the centre halves were up against it all afternoon with the movement and quality that Kane had. The third goal I suppose was a handling error from Artur but the defence did not close the shot down and they were not first to react either when Eriksen saw the chance to stab the ball home. 

During the whole match I thought that Spurs were also able to get in behind without too much difficulty. Eddie Howe may have felt that they could leave some space behind and that Harry Kane was not quick enough to out sprint Francis but he had enough to keep Francis at bay and if the Cherries were trying to compress the play with a small gap between the defence and the attack, it would have been important for the Cherries not to give the ball away so often, and I would expect the turnovers of balls won in midfield were very much in favour of the white shirts.

While defending against the best teams is always problematical, even Eddie found it hard to explain why Spurs were so much better on the day. AFCB certainly contributed to their own difficulties though and it is in these games where the team will learn much more about what they need to work on so from that respect it is not all bad.

Why not find out the thoughts of Mike Dunne and Stephen Allen at All Departments to see if he can shed more light on where AFCB might seek improvements after this defeat. Visit the All Departments' website to listen back to the podcast.

Back of the Net podcast is also out today - Episode 5 Let's fill it with Seagulls. I hope they don't want to fill AFCB's revamped ground with Brighton supporters! 

You can also take in some of the scenes from around White Hart Lane on Match Day Gallery.

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Cherries are Kaned by Spurs' title push 3-0

Match Report
Tottenham Hotspur v AFCB
20 March 2016
Attendance: 36,084
Welcome to White Hart Lane.
The Cherries visited White Hart Lane expecting a severe test. It only took some 44 seconds or so for that to be turned into mountainous task as Harry Kane thundered Spurs ahead from short range after a right wing cross from Kyle Walker. Suddenly AFCB's unbeaten run was under threat and on 16 minutes the lead was doubled by Harry Kane second having held off the attentions of Simon Francis and slipped the ball past Artur Boruc. The Cherries seemed shell shocked and chasing the ball seemed the new afternoon game as they struggled to get some kind of foothold in the game. Spurs had shown how ruthless they were in front of goal and while AFCB recovered to mount more of a competitive second half a third goal from Christian Eriksen only confirmed the superiority that Spurs had in this game. The difference in class was vast and that will give Eddie Howe lots to think about.
Spurs team.
The two teams shake hands.
Harry Arter returned to the starting 11 for AFCB and the Cherries lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with King and Afobe taking the attack to Spurs. Dan Gosling slipped to the bench. 

AFC Bournemouth fans - Carl, Charlotte and Curt give their pre-match views.

The two captains in the middle.
More pictures will be shown later tonight on Match Day Gallery.

The match started with just about the most horrendous few seconds of play that Eddie Howe would have wanted to see. From a throw that was quickly passed back to Hugo Lloris, Spurs built their first attack down the right wing with Kyle Walker and an early cross to the centre of Bournemouth's box was met first by Harry Kane, who had split the two centre backs and got his foot ahead of Francis to finish neatly passed Boruc - 1-0 and most of us simply checked the time on our watches! Yes, it was under a minute!

There are setbacks and then there are setbacks. This goal sent shock waves around the ground. It was just the start to make Spurs feel comfortable that they would close the gap of table topping Leicester City, while AFCB had to some how show that they could pick themselves up better than when the teams met last time.

However, Spurs were euphoric in the passing and execution of play. They were cutting through the Cherries at will and it was Ritchie, King and Smith just trying to get a tackle in or just get near the opposition. Kyle Walker was given all the space he wanted on the right side and Danny Rose was doing equally well on the left winning a corner off of Simon Francis.

AFCB did get a few passes going but not for long as Harry Kane put a header wide on 10 minutes. Boruc's goal kick that went straight out of play just added to the nerves. Francis was getting tackled in on Ali only to find the ball breaking to Danny Rose. The ball just stuck with white shirts and when Arter could not get anywhere near Lamella, fouling him was the best he could do. Adam Smith had to concede another corner on 13 minutes, but the resulting shot from Kyle Walker was well over.

Relief was short lived though. Dele Alli played a simple pass through the middle for Harry Kane to find enough space in behind Simon Francis and he calmly slid the ball past Artur Boruc to double the lead on 15 minutes with Steve Cook unable to get a challenge in.

AFCB just looked second in every department and it looked like it was going to be a very long game for the team that looked nothing like the side that had played so well in recent matches. Players were simply not doing their jobs well enough and the gaps that were left behind were being filled by the white shirts who were in full control. Another Spurs corner was followed by a blast over the bar by Christian Eriksen, but it was all one way traffic.

It was a delight merely to see Max Gradel win a free kick. Dembele was first to every ball in the middle and even if he flattened Ritchie, Spurs would soon win the ball back. Daniels could not get his runs going up the left and blocks were the order of the day as Rose and Walker commanded the wings.

When Steve Cook conceded another corner on 29 minutes he and King crashed into each other when trying to clear the same ball from the corner. All individual battles were being lost and Spurs were able to turnover the ball with simple ease. Even when playing at the back a simple ball back to Boruc from Cook caused the Polish keeper to almost trip himself up before making a clearance. He was soon kept on his toes by another shot from Harry Kane.

It was something of a small victory when Josh King won a corner on 36 minutes even if it did not result in a shooting chance. Next, one of Spurs' best moves could easily have ended in a goal but was ruled  for offside. Rose fed the ball to Dier who slipped in Alli to finish before the flag went up. Kane was the man offside though.

AFCB's only shot of the half followed with Steve Cook heading over from a deep free kick to the far post. All the action was down the other end and this time Dele Alli had Boruc at full stretch to his right to keep the score at 2-0. It could have happened moments later when AFCB gave the ball away again but Kane's cross went just wide of Eriksen and the goal. Half time just could not come soon enough!
AFCB get ready to make their subs at the start of the second half.
Lewis Grabban was on for the second half.
Second Half
Two subs were made by AFCB as Lewis Grabban replaced Arter and Eunan O'Kane came on for Benik Aobe. The work rate of the Cherries went up immediately and a quickly taken free kick saw King run around the wall and had his shot blocked.

That good start by AFCB was soon returned with a Spurs break from the corner at their end that saw Walker shoot wide, Gradel and King were looking more active but Alderweireld would clear any real danger with time to spare.

The contest was then completely over when Lamella passed to Kane on the run and the number 10's powerful shot could only be spilt by Boruc at the waiting feet of Eriksen who made it 3-0 on 52 minutes.

While the Cherries had begun to win the odd corners it was damage limitation now. The second half was better with O'Kane going on busy runs and Josh King chasing hard up front but the game was already lost. Grabban was also an AFCB player that was doing all he could to get the side going and showed he had plenty of battling qualities. As soon as Francis did similarly and put a hand on Kane's shoulder referee Neil Swarbrick gave him a yellow card.

Gradel was having no less problems in getting past Rose. Spurs started to make their subs with Lamella replaced by Carroll on 65 minutes.

Adam Smith was doing well in taking the game to Spurs with his dribbles but he could not beat them all, Surman's speculative high delivery in the box saw he ball come off the back of Grabban's head and just fall wide.

Gradel was then subbed for Marc Pugh on 69 minutes. Smith was looking forlorn at seeing another of his crosses over hit. Grabban at least won a corner with 12 minutes to go. Spurs soon cleared though and a clever reverse ball payed in Carroll and the Dele Ali somehow shot wide!

Spurs subbed Dele Alli after that for Mason to play out the last eight minutes. There was some pleasure to see Mason and then Eriksen blocked on 86 minutes by Boruc, while Pugh did a few turns before getting robbed of the ball. Even at the end it was Kane shooting just wide of Boruc's left post.

Dier was replaced by Chadli as three minutes of added time went up and the only shot from Eriksen in that period flew well over.
All over - thank goodness!
A bad day at the office for sure. We marked Harry Kane out as a man that the Cherries had to stop, but in truth the whole Spurs team were the problem. The Cherries never got going in this one and the pink shirts could not hide the amount of quality that they fell short of needing against one of the best sides in the Premier League. It could have been much worse than three and really it was a collective low par performance. In Cheltenham week the Cherries were just not at the races. There will be lots to talk about when the team jets of to Dubai and Eddie Howe will want to see a very different kind of game when the Cherries take on Man City in a couple of weeks time. 

Spurs were very good, but the Cherries did not make things that difficult for them and those that came on in the second half showed a little more spirit and pride. It is hard to criticise when the boys have had such a great season, but the two games against Spurs have been disappointing. Two shots for AFCB all game and none on target kind of tells the story that they were on the pitch but not fully engaged in this one, despite their best efforts.

A poor day for the Cherries but there have not been too many of them this season.
Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter (O'Kane 45), Surman,  Gradel (Pugh 65), King, Afobe (Grabban 45)

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 4, Smith 5, Francis 4, Cook 5, Daniels 5, Ritchie 5, Arter 5 (O'Kane 6), Surman 6, Gradel 5 (Pugh 5), King 6, Afobe 4 (Grabban 6)

AFCB subs
Federici, Distin, Elphick, Pugh, Gosling, O'Kane, Grabban

Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose, DembΓ©lΓ©, Dier (Chadli 90), Lamela (Carroll 66), Eriksen, Alli (Mason 82), Kane

Spurs Subs
Vorm, Trippier, Walker-Peters, Carroll, Chadli, Son Heung-min, Mason

Referee watch: Neil Swarbrick 3/10 - one yellow card, Spurs were never gong to get a player booked with this ref. 

The score prediction prize was won by David Lambert @mrbert71 who correctly predicted 3-0 to Spurs for this game. Well done David!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Can Cook and Francis stop Harry Kane?

AFCB's centre backs have had some difficult games and the match against Tottenham is going to be another stiff examination of their Premier League class. While mentions of possible England call ups won't distract Simon Francis, both he and Steve Cook have to prove themselves against the very best in matches like this away from home if they are truly going to get themselves recognised as among some of the best players in the country in their positions.
Exiting stage left - Harry Kane is one player AFCB must shackle.
Clean sheets against Spurs have not been easy with the form of Harry Kane who has already scored 19 league goals. But if you take him out of the equation the Tottenham strike force looks almost human. Erik Lamella, Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembele just have three league goals, Christian Eriksen has five, while Deli Alli is on seven goals. So stopping Harry Kane is the number one task for Bournemouth's back line, but there are several midfield runners who will also be very attack minded in this game.

Harry Kane basically shoots from just about anywhere and to usually works for him as Arsenal recently found out. But to keep him quiet would be a major feather in Cook and Francis' book. I don't believe there are many players that are better in the air than him and as his first thought is to always shoot the blocks are going to have to be flying in. 

Francis and Cook have seen 13 goals go in against them since the new year in the league, but with four clean sheets it is not beyond them to steal another clean sheet. With AFCB's biggest defeat of 2016 coming in home games to West Ham and Stoke City, it is the away form that has really been most effective. Only in the Leicester away game when Francis was sent off have the Cherries had a team have more than 14 shots against them in a game since the 1st Jan. Keeping that number of attempts down is going to need not just Francis and Cook to play well but others too. 

Individual errors cost AFCB last time against Spurs, but perhaps this will be seen as a big step in how far the team has improved since the game against Spurs at Dean Court when Artur Boruc was in goal and Sylvain Distin and Steve Cook were the centre halves.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Callum is back in full training!

It has been a long wait to hear that Callum Wilson is back in full training, but he tweeted this morning that he has trained this week with the first team and that can only be a big boost to morale at the club as Callum joins Max Gardel back off the injury list. I suspect it will be too soon for him to take part in the game at Spurs, but there must now be a possibility of him coming back for the next home game even if it is only to be starting from the bench.
Callum is inching back towards the squad.
The pleasing thing is that Callum is fit and wants to play. Whether Eddie Howe wants to play him yet though is another matter. I can't think of a better lift though to give the club as they head into some tough games at the end of this season. Callum will still want to get back on the pitch as he is a goalscorer and he'll want to be known as the top scorer at the club. If he manages to do that having played so few games it will really underline what a talent he is.

Of course, it is important that Callum does not do too much too soon. We have seen that Max Gradel has come back and lit up the stands with his exciting football and I was expecting him to drop off again in form after the initial return, but he and the staff have judged his return well. Let's hope that get Callum Wilson's return right as well. 

My guess was that the Aston Villa away game would be the best bet for Callum's return but to see him just on the bench in one of the next two games would be amazing. The other strikers know that he is there now and eager to get back on the pitch which should raise the sharpness of the other forwards. AFCB look like they could have a very strong finish to this season with more fire power not far from returning now.

Other news
Both AFCB U21 players Brandon Goodship and Harry Cornick start for Yeovil today against Cambridge Utd.

Should Howe go with five in midfield?

There were only two big defeats this season to date for the Cherries and they were against two of the top four sides, one of them being Tottenham. It was that pounding and the one against Man City that really focussed Howe's thinking of playing five in midfield. Once the confidence and results returned though, and the personnel up front were boosted by the arrival of Benik Afobe, it has not taken long for AFCB to revert back to 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2.

The formation that Eddie picks does not often stay the same throughout a game, so I don't think it is that crucial when we see the starting line up that it means that is how things are going to be for the 90 minutes. Against Spurs I do expect there to be a tweak of the system despite the winning run of the last three matches. For one it is firstly about how AFCB are playing. Benik Afobe is finding it difficult to keep having the impact that he had when he first joined the side. I am not sure if that is him still learning where to be to have the most effect or whether it is the opposition that have been doing their homework on him, which is something he'll have to get used to.
Spurs at Dean Court earlier this season.
With Benik may be not likely to impose himself enough on the game it may be that Josh King is asked to play alone up front and the midfield could be packed then with Arter coming back and Gosling looking to support King, while still having Andrew Surman in behind to shield the back four. However, I believe Harry Arter might not be risked and Eunan O'Kane could well get another chance to boost his Irish Euro 2016 claims by starting this match. Competing with Spurs' midfield is going to be the difficult part of the battle early on and with five men in there it should give the Cherries a chance to try and keep the ball against a very good side. 

It is seen by some as a negative move to only play one up front but the pace that AFCB have on the wings can quickly make their shape more of a 4-3-3 when in possession. Adam Smith will be one to look out for as he has every reason to want to show a few people at Spurs that he could have made it there. Playing on the break has been part of the Cherries' game that has been strong away from home, while free kicks and corner kicks have also provided a good platform for goals. AFCB have to be patient though in these kind of games. Staying in the match is what it will be about just like it was at Chelsea earlier on in the season. As the game progresses the pressure will build on Spurs if they can't score and that is when the opportunities will come for AFCB and perhaps a hungry Benik Afobe, who might have been sitting on the bench, or an equally keen Lewis Grabban could find themselves in with a chance of being the match winner.

So for me, I'd like Eddie to keep it tight and go with the five in midfield - at least at the start. It is also a game too soon for Callum Wilson but he has tweeted this morning that he has done a full week's training with AFCB!

Possible AFCB line up
Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, O'Kane, Gosling, Surman, Gradel, King

Federici, Elpjick, Distin, Pugh, Iturbe, Grabban, Afobe

Score Predictions
Get your score predictions in for Tottenham v AFCB. Simply Tweet your score by clearly identifying AFCB and Spurs with their score to @CherryChimes. It is free to enter and the person who gets the score correct will win an AFCB autograph book. If there are more than one person with the correct score the winner will be pulled out of a hat.

Thanks to our sponsors NatterjackVetsAltamira and Broom Hill Gardens for their support this season.

Can AFCB do Leicester a favour by beating Spurs?

I hate to think of AFCB as spoilers, but there is a distinct possibility that they can go to White Hart Lane and cause an upset tomorrow which would suit Leicester City down to the ground. A win there would be as big in my book as the win against Chelsea earlier in the season as Tottenham are focussed on trying to win the league, and it will be a test like no other for the Cherries.
The Cherries will be fighting for some pride this time.
The away from of the Cherries is fairly strong at present. Wins against Newcastle and Crystal Palace on the road in 2016 have been added to by draws against Watford, Sunderland and Leicester and the Cherries are unbeaten away from home in 2016. Eddie Howe must transmit to the players that their draw up at Leicester was against a top four side and that if they can do it there, with 10 men for much of the game, they can cause Spurs problems as well.

Motivating the players for the away games has not been a problem this season. AFCB is a side that plays well on the break and this is one game where they will have a real job on their hands to keep possession for any length of time. As usual the early moments of the game will set the tempo and it will be in that early period when AFCB need to show that they have a goal threat if they are to slow the Spurs attack. Frustrating and blocking is not something that we are used to seeing though from the Cherries, and yet it will be important that they are not too open at the back against a team that will try and dominate the opening period.

If the Cherries can stay in the game early on they do have plenty of goalscorers themselves. The travelling support will be strong with some 2900 travelling fans, and if AFCB can get a goal all the pressure will be on Pochettino's side who dare not drop anymore points in their title race.

Score Predictions
Get your score predictions in for Tottenham v AFCB. Simply Tweet your score by clearly identifying AFCB and Spurs with their score to @CherryChimes. It is free to enter and the person who gets the score correct will win an AFCB autograph book. If there are more than one person with the correct score the winner will be pulled out of a hat.

Thanks to our sponsors NatterjackVets, Altamira and Broom Hill Gardens for their support this season.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Collective goal scoring has been key for the Cherries

While there is a possibility that Eddie Howe would have liked to have played a first choice recognised front two for most of the way through the season he has not had that option. Unlike Watford where the front two have been scoring the goals, it has been a team effort for the Cherries to get the goals for up to a magnificent total of 38. That is the equal ninth highest total for a team in the Premier League and evidence that most of AFCB's players have a goal or two in them.
There is plenty of fire power in the Cherries even with
Wilson and Stanislas waiting to come back.
So Eddie Howe may well be thinking with a fit Callum Wilson and a quick learning Benik Afobe that the goals for would be even bigger. Of course he has other options with Josh King and Glenn Murray as well and there could yet be some changes to the front line as we go into the late March and early April games.

It is healthy that AFCB have not been too reliant though on a front two always getting the goals and by playing one up front for much of the season it has meant that midfield players have had to get forward in support. The leading goal scorers are Wilson, Murray, King and Stanislas - all on five. But Gosling, Pugh and Afobe are just one goal behind, the midfielders have been getting on the score sheet and only Francis, Elphick, Iturbe and Surman of the main outfield players are still awaiting their first goal.

This underlines to me that the Cherries' goals are usually pretty varied and any player is dangerous and could get a goal. A high number of AFCB's goals also seem to have come from distance which I think is great as we all like to see a screamer or two. Whether your favourite is Matt Ritchie's thunderbolt against Sunderland, Adam Smith's rocket against Everton or Harry Arter's long range effort against West Ham, the goals have been going in from every angle.