Saturday, 19 March 2016

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.

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