Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Is Max Gradel really out-of-favour?

The reports that Max Gradel is being sought after by Hull City and Lyons might be more to do with these clubs knowing how good Max is rather than him being out-of-favour at AFCB. Max made a sub appearance against Man Utd and won a starting place in the English League Cup. If he thought he deserved more than that then he has to battle to win his place against Ryan Fraser and the other wingers who are returning to fitness.

To be fair Max played really well in the League Cup game against Morcambe and scored with a well-taken early shot to put the Cherries ahead. Those moments have been far from frequent though and while Max has the talent that is above many in the squad, he needs a consistent season. That should be a challenge to him as he hardly played last season.
Max can be he player he wants to be at AFCB.
While other clubs might admire Max, he will be very much part of Eddie Howe's plans going forward and it would be a setback to lose such a player right on the close of the transfer window. The Daily Mail may suggest that there has been a falling out with Eddie Howe but Eddie will pick players on performance and what they can do for the team. Players need to have the right attitude to pull in the same direction. Personal arguments happen and are fixed as easily as they flare up when the overall objective is to get the club it's highest ever Premier League finish.

Know one at AFCB is a certain starter. If Gradel has felt his nose pushed out of place, then he has to consider what is best for AFCB and himself. To not be a starter in three games though, and then have an argument and decide your better off elsewhere, is not really fighting for your place and knuckling down to changing a manager's opinion and proving you were right. I get the impression that Max might decide that he has not completed his work at AFCB yet.

Other Transfer Talk
AFCB are now likely to get Wilshere on loan - he is said to be on his way to Dean Court - according to Sky Sports.
AFCB have reportedly accepted a bid from Derby Co for Lewis Grabban, according to FL92 Transfer - we'll wait for official news.
Rhoys Wiggins is also believed to be set for a medical at Birmingham City.

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' September 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: Simon Francis' form is crucial this season and you can also find out why I have gone off Paul Merson!

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Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Penalty decisions are in the lap of the Gods

I have to be honest, I don't like soft penalties and the new rules that have come in this season for holding and blocking in the box have caused a mountain of trouble already. AFCB themselves were the victims against Crystal Palace with Charlie Daniels being pulled up for a shirt pull, even though Benteke was running away from goal and he still managed to keep control of the ball.

I'm not against fouls in the box being punished, but I'd like them to be for goal scoring opportunities being denied rather than title-tattle. Strong holding around a player in the box and tripping and holding back is something that is now outlawed, and while the degree of holding and tugging maybe up for question, that is where the problem is at the moment.

Charlie Daniels had hold of Benteke's shirt and did not let go. In the strict interpretation of the laws it's a penalty, but it is down to the referee's discretion if he sees it and feels it is a foul. I can't defend Charlie in that instance - he knows the directives that have been given to referees and Mike Dean did not appear to give any warnings. Still he gave a penalty the week before at Man City for the same thing.

Daniels himself has admitted that he made the wrong decision to hold on to Benteke and Francis and Surman were furious with him. Whether AFCB get any decisions like that in their favour this season we will wait and see, but I'd be surprised as all managers should now say hands off players in the box. It's a moment when Charlie got wrapped up in just trying to shepherd Benteke away from goal but he must learn from this mistake.

Look Daniels had his arms down like this, okay! 
Too a large extent I believe players have brought the soft penalties on themselves. Fans want to see a contact sport but the cheating has gone too far. There is too much pushing and shoving and diving to get an advantage. The difficulty is that the laws are not easy to implement when in some games referees wave small fouls away, while in others they blow up for a penalty. Where do players stand? The confusion is a real spoiler on the game. In the match against Crystal Palace, AFCB got away with it, thanks to a great save by Boruc but on another day it will be a worse punishment, so I am sue Eddie Howe will be talking to his defenders about their discipline following this incident if he didn't before the game.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Potential move for Grabban may give AFCB busy transfer deadline day

The rumour that Lewis Grabban could be a target of Derby County in the Championship may lead to a hectic deadline day for AFCB. The likelihood is that if Lewis would be interested in the move and AFCB can agree a fee (the suggestion is £6m according to the Daily Telegraph), it would have the Cherries potentially seeing if they could find another striker before the window shuts.

While Derby are believed to be keen on adding Lewis Grabban to their squad, I somehow doubt that Grabban would be able to leave Bournemouth, unless there is a suitable replacement lined up, as Lewis has been involved in AFCB's three Premier League games so far. Lewis himself may have reservations about a move back to the Championship, but he could also feel that it would give him an opportunity to make a fresh start. While Grabban has not yet scored on the Premier League for the Cherries, Derby will be well aware of what he has done to Championship sides in the past. A transfer fee that matches or is close to what AFCB payed Norwich for Grabban would probably get the attention of the Cherries, so it will be interesting to see if this one develops.
Is Lewis Grabban open to a potential move?
The move would also push Lys Mousset closer to the bench for his Premier League debut which may not seem a bad thing from the views of many Bournemouth fans. AFCB will have a list of strikers that they are keeping tabs on, but whether any are available at the right price when the window is about to close is a bit of a poker game. If AFCB were looking at the Championship it could be a costly replacement for a young striker - like Britt Assombalonga, a for example, at Forest.

A point is at least a start

While the result against Crystal Palace was a bit of a 'kick in the teeth' as Eddie Howe described, he cannot be too disappointed with the Cherries finally getting off the mark. An away game in the Premier League is never an easy game and while Crystal Palace have had their problems, looking back at the game it would have been very fortunate for AFCB to have come away with all three points considering the second half they had.
AFCB stretch out ahead of facing Crystal Palace.
The team will be boosted just to get off the bottom of the table, even if there is only Stoke City below them. It's a start and to have gotten no points in August would have been a real morale killer. Eddie Howe would have been under enormous pressure in the next couple of games and as it is he'll know there is lots of improvement to be made. As it is the Cherries need to play better at home and will have a couple of weeks to try and get their first win there, which could take them out of the bottom three.

The table itself is starting to take shape and it is important that the Cherries can find their way into mid-table as soon as possible. That will need more desire and better play on the field and while fans may wonder if there is to be one more signing before the window shuts on Wednesday, any signing is unlikely to rival the top signing of Jordan Ibe in terms of quality. So AFCB's squad is pretty much what there is now and if anything it may be some players leaving that takes up the club's time in the next few days.

The point though gives the club a basis. There are signs too that the team are battling better when defending, even if they had to defend too much for long periods against Palace. Being hard to beat is not particularly pretty to watch, but in some ways it is important for AFCB to start getting back to that rather than putting too much emphasis of the gloss of finishing which will surely improve, once the side starts to get some confidence.

Transfer gossip
The Daily Star is linking AFCB and three other Premier League clubs with Arsenal defender Calum Chambers.
Lewis Grabban is reported to be a target of Derby County, according to the Derby Telegraph.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Cherries fail to hold on to lead with Palace 1-1

Match Report
Crystal Palace 1-1 AFCB
27 August 2016
Attendance: 23,503

AFCB are still waiting for their luck to turn, but they managed to secure their first point of the season away at Crystal Palace. Josh King scored the goal that lifted AFCB spirits as early as the 11th minute, when he turned sharply and fired in from the angle in the box from a Harry Arter pass. A sustained AFCB attack in the first half saw them dominate even though Mike Dean felt a Charlie Daniels' tug on Benteke, in the box, enough to give Palace a penalty that Artur Boruc saved fantastically in the 15th minute from Yohan Cabaye. Callum Wilson could have extended the lead, when he broke though, but he saw his shit saved by Palace's new signing Mandanda. Boruc was needed on a more regular basis in the second half as the Eagles battered the Cherries' defence. Chance after chance went begging for them until Scott Dann headed the equaliser in the 93rd minute to sink AFCB's hopes of a win.
Selhurst Park - we await the players.

Graham, Joe and Ben give their pre-match views on Cherry Chimes FanCam.

There were no changes to the starting 11 for AFCB from the West Ham game which might have been slightly surprising considering some of the strong performance in midweek. So Ryan Fraser kept his place on the left wing and Harry Arter was back in the team after his one match suspension.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.
Simon Francis and Scott Dann.
AFCB tried to apply pressure from the start against a Palace side who were also pointless after two matches. The game soon became the Cherries' corner show with two corners in the first 10 minutes. Neither provided a clear chance, but on 11 minutes AFCB had a free kick after Jordan Ibe had been fouled by Delaney. Harry Arter saw Josh King in a bit of space on the right side of the box, and the Bournemouth forward wasted no time in cracking the ball across Mandanda and into the bottom left corner of the goal - 0-1.

The fans were jubilant and it seemed that AFCB were playing more penetrative football at last. However, Mike Dean soon after pointed to the spot as Charlie Daniels was adjudged to have pulled Benteke's shirt - it seemed baffling to AFCB fans. But a penalty it was and Cabaye went to Boruc's right and found the Polish keeper ready to palm the ball safely away! AFCB fans felt justice had been done.

Adam Smith was then on the receiving end of a challenge from Cabaye that earned the Frenchman a yellow card. Ryan Fraser then played a good ball to King who saw his shot deflected for a corner. The corner was cleared but another free kick on the edge of the box saw Surman curl his effort over.

Crystal Palace were looking to hit Benteke when they could, with Townsend and Puncheon also in support, while Wickham seemed to move out to the left wing having started up front. Simon Francis was having to mark the ex-Liverpool man tightly. Place won their first corner on 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, Callum Wilson was finding it hard to keep upright in the Palace box. Mike Dean was not giving much AFCB's way though. 

Cabaye was getting a little more into the game but as soon as Benteke got involved Francis was straight on him. On the 26th minute he got too close and gave Palace a great chance from a free kick on the edge of the D. Townsend hit the wall though and Ward's follow up was cleared. The danger was not over though as Townsend clipped the ball back in from the right wing and had Boruc back peddling to make a great save over his head and to his right on the line. "We've got a big Pole in our goal," rang out around Selhurst Park.

While AFCB put pressure on Crystal Palace for the second goal it was hard to get anyone in the clear until Josh King put Wilson in one-on-one and the shot was smothered by the Palace keeper who came out quick to make the save. Ibe was also getting in shooting positions but he found Ward was there to block. Simon Francis also made a strong run into the box but fell heavily on his shoulder.

At this stage AFCB looked comfortable enough with Steve Cook pumping the ball out of the stadium to make a clearance. Frustrated, Delaney was yellow carded for his foul in Jordan Ibe as half time approached.
AFCB subs at half time.

Second half
The second half saw no immediate changes in players but Crystal Palace went full out on the attack and AFCB just sat back deeper and deeper. It was a turnaround from the first half. AFCB couldn't get the ball over half way or string many passes together. Palace built pressure with some corners and Arter had to clear a header from Dann off the line. It was all Palace now, with Souaré putting in crosses from the left and Francis heading away.

A break for AFCB led by Wilson and King had Bournemouth gong forward again but when Fraser took a shot the keeper saved well and Fraser was offside anyway.

Palace then had a great chance as Conner Wickham blasted over from a central position. Artur Boruc said something as he was carded at this point. 

Eddie Howe put Dan Gosling on and took off Ibe as the Cherries came under more pressure. AFCB were battling better, but it was still Palace that were pressing. A double substitution from Pardew turned up the Selhurst volume even more, as Lee-Chung-Yong came on for James McArthur and then Wilfred Zaha replaced Connor Wickham.

It was hard to keep Palace back now. Townsend had a shot saved by Boruc that swung low to the keeper's right. The ball was pumped back into AFCB's box and Souaré put a header wide. Benteke and then Souaré went close as Steve Cook cleared off the line with a slice over the bar. The shots kept coming in but AFCB managed to keep the ball out some how with a scramble again on the line with Ward and Zaha involved.

Lee then had a great chance created by Puncheon as AFCB tried to hold Palace with two lines of five. Lee blasted it over though. The pressure was relieved a bit when Puncheon went for a big 25-yard shot that also flew high into the stand.

Callum Wilson was subbed with 18 minutes to go so that Lewis Grabban could come on. AFCB needed to make it scrappy now and to play out time. The passing was all sideways but it stemmed the flow of Palace attacks for a bit. Grabban also managed to get forward but had his shot saved.

Townsend was next to shoot wide as AFCB found it increasingly hard to get over half way. The last 10 minutes dragged on but a great run by King was helped by Adam Smith who fired in a cross that Fraser flashed just wide at the near post. Even with a water break and quick advice from Howe, on the touchline, there was no relief for the Cherries.

Boruc again was performing heroics as Lee looked certain to score but hit his shot just at a good height for the keeper. A sub two-minutes from time saw Aké replace Fraser, while Palace subbed Joel Ward for Martin Kelly. Four minutes of added time. Palace looked like they would never beat Boruc, but a cross from Puncheon fell just right for Scott Dann and he headed in from just inside the box on the right to make it 1-1.
All over and two points dropped in the final minute for the Cherries.
It was a long second half for AFCB and it was hard to take getting plundered in the last minute of the game. This was more agonising than the West Ham defeat only because it was so close to being all three points. But on balance of play Palace were more than deserved a draw as they were tremendous in the second half and the Cherries will know that they can't invite sides on them like that for long periods of the game. Artur Boruc put in the best game of his Bournemouth career and he deserved more from those in front of him at times as he should have had a clean sheet, but it's no clean sheet in 13 Premier League games now for AFCB - if Eddie has work to do, it is at both ends of the pitch though, as two goals in three league games is also not up with the front runners.

Boruc, A Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Arter, Fraser (Aké 88), Ibe (Gosling 59), C Wilson (Grabban 71), King

Federici, Gosling, Aké, Afobe, Gradel, B Smith, Grabban

Crystal Palace
Mandanda, Ward (Kelly 88), Dann, Delaney, Souaré, Puncheon, Cabaye, McArthur (Lee Chung-Yong 66), Townsend, Wickham (Zaha 66), Benteke

Palace Subs
Speroni, Tomkins, Zaha, Lee Chung-Yong, Ledley, Kelly, Boateng

Referee: Mike Dean

Boruc 9.7, A Smith 5.9, Francis 7, Cook 7.1, Daniels 6.5, Surman 6.5, Arter 6.9, Fraser 6.9, (Aké 5), Ibe 6.5 (Gosling 5), C Wilson 6.6 (Grabban 6.2), King 8

Saturday, 27 August 2016

How long will Howe leave it before making changes?

The opening two defeats of the season have seen AFCB leave the pitch with back to back defeats and now they travel to Palace knowing they really have to get something to get themselves off the bottom of the table. The mood in the camp is not down though and there were improvements against West ham so is Eddie Howe going to be reluctant to make changes this early?

While injury has meant that we have seen Ryan Fraser a bit earlier than many would have expected on the left wing, the improving form of Max Gradel as demonstrated in midweek could see him back in the side. Whether Max can carry on his goalscoring is anyone's guess but Eddie is likely to take any inspiration he can find at the moment so Gradel is a starter for me. At the back it is more difficult to make a decision. Marc Wilson had a great midweek game along with Nathan Aké and yet it is probably asking too much to see both of them even on the bench. Marc Wilson needs a bit more time I would think before his fitness is at the right level. Aké is another question. I'd like to see him play but not in midfield or centre-back but at left-back where I see Charlie Daniels as struggling. However, I expect Eddie to be loyal and stick with Charlie for this game although both he and captain Simon Francis need to step up.
Will Eddie make changes in the back four?
While the goals have not been flowing, I don't believe it will be long before King and Callum Wilson start to hit the back of the net. They have looked more a partnership and while it would be tempting to let Benik Afobe play against palace where he did so well last season, it may be after 60 minutes when we see the Cherries number nine striker.

Harry Arter is likely to keep his place, but Lewis Cook is playing again so I'd expect Eddie to want to get Lewis into the action when he can.

The lads need some good fortune today. Let's give them that extra 10 per cent to get them their first Premier League points of 2016/17 UTCIAD!

Tokelo Rantie heads to Turkey - is O'Kane also on his way out?

This morning I awoke to the news that Tokelo Rantie had completed his transfer to Turkish side Genclerbirligi yesterday.  While Tokelo has had his problems at Dean Court it is probably a relief on all sides that his move has finally gone though - although on Tokelo's side I expect there will be a lot of disappointment that he never really fulfilled the potential that the club believed he had. A fresh start for him may ring him the success he craves and I hope he does well for himself. His transfer fee was not disclosed but it is likely that the club recouped a reasonable amount of the £3m he was originally signed for as English clubs had been interested in him who did not get a look in at the end.

Tokelo's departure is likely to be followed up by another out-going transfer as Leeds Utd and Wigan have been reported to be after Eunan O'Kane. The Irishman has not featured greatly in the first team of late and his appearance as a right back against Portsmouth could be his last start for the Cherries even though he was on the bench for the match against Valencia.
Tokelo Rantie gets his move.
Making room for players to move is necessary for the players that are no longer in the manager's plans. The squad has grown significantly and it cannot have been great for Tokelo to know that his football career was stalling at AFCB, while also having to recover from injury in South Africa. 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Are Palace in more trouble than AFCB?

I guess we will only find out how Crystal Palace are doing this season when AFCB take them on this Saturday. Neither wants to be in this position but the loser will surely be propping up the table and for the Cherries it has been not so unexpected considering the teams they have played so far. But for Palace it must have been sickening to lose to WBA and if they lose this one they'll know they are going to be in a battle at the wrong end of the table.

Alan Pardew has not held the cash back this summer, but his transfers in may not be the kind of players to truly excite. His biggest signing is Christian Benteke who was a real misfit at Liverpool but was a solid enough striker for Aston Villa. The price-tag was huge though at £27m and Benteke will need quality crosses into the box to make an impact. Palace will hope that comes from Andros Townsend, who seems to be a bit of a lost sole having moved from Spurs to Newcastle and now to Palace. I do wonder if the big forward is something that Pardew can't get out of his head though. It didn't work with Emmanuel Adebayor and if Benteke doesn't hit the spot it will be a lot of pressure on Connor Wickham, now that Dwight Gayle and of course Glenn Murray are no longer at the club.
It's a game neither side can afford to lose.
The big departure was Yannick Bolassie to Everton. How much of a miss he will be is what Crystal Palace's season may hang on. If Townsend can bridge that gap they may be okay, but if they struggle to get the goals and expect Wilfred Zaha to have a sensational season then they could come unstuck. Yesterday, Spurs were linked with Zaha, so they could also be without him, although chairman Steve Parish was adamant on TalkSport that Zaha was going  nowhere his transfer window. Mile Jedinak was also a solid performer for them, now at Villa. They'll hope that James Tomkins from West Ham is a signing that stops goals going in at their end, but you wonder where the excitement is in this Palace side. Puncheon is always a wild card who can be brilliant on his day or the man Pardew can't wait to sub while Campbell and Lee Chong-Yong won't score too many. The Eagles quality is really found in Yohan Cabaye in midfield, but I wonder if he should be playing in a stronger side.

Of course Palace will feel they owe this Bournemouth side a beating having lost to them at Selhurst Park last season. The biggest obstacle that Eddie Howe can put in front of Palace though is to play Benik Afobe, just so they know they could be in for another tough 90 minutes.

Rival Lines: The Eagles Beak - our league form is horrendous!

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Crystal Palace v AFCB
Blogger Interview: The Eagles Beak
Twitter @TheEaglesBeak

This week we had the chance to chat with Jay Crame who jointly edits the Palace site The Eagles Beak. I have a confession to make in that visiting Selhurst Park is always something I look forward to as it is only about 40 minutes drive from my house or a quick train trip. But even with that convenience, I would rather travel down to Bournemouth most Saturdays to watch the team that means everything to me. But what does Jay think about the club he loves and the start they have made to this season?

CC: Are Palace fans as gutted as AFCB supporters that this is already a bottom of the table clash?

TEB: Perhaps but it is very early days indeed. I think most fans were expecting to win the opening game against the Baggies but lose the trip to Spurs, so I guess we are a win behind where we should be. The start of any season is always quite odd in terms of expectations as you hope new signings gel immediately but they often need time. Puts a little more onus on our clash as we will want to pick up a point or three going into the international break.

CC: How unlucky were Palace in their two games against Spurs and WBA as you seemed to have been victims of late goals in these games?

TEB: Against West Brom we played well in the first half and had we scored I am convinced that we would have gone on to win the game. You know what you are going to get against a Tony Pulis side, more so having seen what he did at Palace. The longer the game went on without us scoring you could just see them scoring from a set piece which is exactly what they did. The performance against Spurs was better but it was the very same result, late set piece proving the difference. One thing is clear, Palace are hard to break down but need to be much more clinical with chances that come our way.

CC: Do you think the side has fully recovered after the defeat to Man Utd in the FA Cup semi-final and the loss of form at the end of last season?

TEB: The league form in 2016 has been absolutely horrendous and there really is little excuse and it is foolish to think that the start of a new season wipes the slate clean. The fact is, these opening two games have continued in similar vein and that is the last thing Alan Pardew would have wanted. It sounds crazy but he is under pressure to get a result now as the fans are becoming restless. You cannot ignore the form that got us to the cup final though which is proof that we can get results against Premier League sides. Maybe we just need to go back to treating every game as a cup tie!

CC: Is the £27m spent on Benteke well spent or would you have preferred a quicker striker like Berahino for that kind of money?

TEB: Having seen Benteke make his debut for Palace against Blackpool in the League Cup the initial signs are good. He showed glimpses of what we can expect - strong in the air, agile and has quick feet. It was only forty-five minutes but it certainly wets the appetite. Is any player worth that kind of money? I don't believe so but football is in a world of its own and being in the top division you just have to try and keep up while trying to keep on the straight and narrow. I would never have said Palace would shell out this amount of money on a player which has smashed our transfer record but I'm hopefully that it will be a very wise addition.

CC: Was Conner Wickham the right striker to keep considering that Palace let Dwight Gayle go to Newcastle in the summer?

TEB: We seem destined to play a formation that will be much more midfield orientated with a lone striker. Dwight Gayle is a natural goalscorer but he struggles to play the loan striker role. He tried but it just did not work out. He will score 20+ goals in the Championship this season, no doubt about it so I will be intrigued to see how he does on a potential return to the Premier League. Connor Wickham plays the loan striker well but he need support from the midfield which he has not had in the two league games so far. Now he has Benteke to compete with which should make him up his game, in fact, he did just that against Blackpool, scored minutes after replacing the Belgian.

CC: Has the departure of Jedinak to leave for Aston Villa left the team more exposed?

TEB: It is telling that Mile did not sign for another Premier League side and facing facts, he would not make our first eleven with everyone fit. He goes with our very best wishes as he been a huge part of where we find ourselves today but however much I do not like saying it, there is always a time for a player to move on and this was his.

CC: Was the Yannick Bolasie move (£28m according to Sky Sports) good for Palace and is Andros Townsend a good enough replacement?

TEB: I am confident that the purchase of Townsend was not to replace Bolasie but it did soften the deal going through as it looked as though we did. The fee was too much to turn down and while many think we should no longer be a selling club, every player has their price. It is a great deal for Palace but while Bolasie is an exciting player, at the same time he is frustrating but that is what you have to put up with from skillful, wide players. He really needs to learn to perform more often as with the price-tag there is no doubt that the Everton fans will not be as patient as the Palace fans have been with him.

CC: Is Pardew the right man to lead Crystal Palace to a top 10 finish?

TEB: That is a hard question to answer at the moment with the possibility of a couple more players expected to come in before the transfer window ends. We are likely to have the personnel to push for a top 10 finish but I would prefer that we put an end to this wretched form we have been on since the start of the year. With Benteke on board now, I am sure he will add a new dimension to the team as well as that boost that we can actually score goals.

CC: Which three clubs do you think will be relegated from the Premier League this season?

TEB: This is a massive season both at the top and bottom of the table. It is likely to be close at both ends too but for me, the three that I think will go down are Hull City, Burnley and Sunderland.

CC: What formation do you expect Pardew to play against AFC Bournemouth and do you expect many changes from the starting line up in the last game?

TEB: The classic one up front formation with Benteke starting in that role while hopefully we will see the return of James McArthur and Yohan Cabaye to the starting line up. Many, including myself want to see Steve Mandanda replace Hennessey in goal but we may have to wait a couple more games for that.

CC: What do you think the score will be between the Eagles and AFCB?

TEB: We owe you one from last season and with the addition of Benteke, Palace will just edge it 2-1

CC: Thank you Jay for your thoughtful answers. I am pleased to hear that there is optimism in your words and the season is as you say two-games young. AFCB and Palace need to improve fast though and I get the feeling this could already be a 'six pointer' or at least steer one of the sides in the right direction and the other one into a more despondent mood. I'm backing AFCb to get a win though for the first time this season having suggested that they would lose their first two games. It's a 1-2 away win for me - same as last season!

Make sure you have a read of The Eagles Beak. There are not so many Crystal Palace sites and this one is a good one with views on Christian Benteke and the departed Jedinek who will be playing his football with Tommy Elphick this season and the Villa.

Premier Talk: Have the BBC got it right with another Premier League show?

Transfer News - Ben Whitfield has joined Yeovil Town until January.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Visiting the London Stadium did feel special

Some fans have already described visiting the London Stadium like going to Wembley and I can see why that is said, even though it is slightly different experience. You have the long walk up to the stadium and it emerges from the London skyline, like some majestic football paradise with the claret colours splendidly adorned around the stadium's sides, which I can tell you takes some time to walk right around.
Walking up towards the Olympic Park.
With throngs of people walking up to the stadium from the overland rail station and Westfield Shopping precinct, it was like being on a big pilgrimage. Most of the fans were in good humour and expectant of a good game. The programme sellers were keen to call you over with the cellophane wrapped programmes in hand too, all ready for the special day.

The flag seller is doing good business.
We had to make a special diversion to the section between gates J and K as our tickets from AFCB had not arrived in the post before the game. But, true to their word, there was a ticket issuing area at the part of the stadium where we were directed to and an envelope was all prepared with my name on it and the tickets inside. There was not much time to take in all the outside views but having seen the funfair and managing not to trip over all the West ham fans busily looking down at the ground, to see if their names have been set in stone on the floor, we managed to find a father and two sons who we interviewed for the blog before going into the stadium.

Great view.
The vast size of the arena was very apparent when you had passed through the electronic ticket gate and enter the hall, where AFCB fans were already sampling the refreshments on offer. We caught up some friends before heading out to the seating area. It was a good walk and there was an intermediate area that had a big canvas hoarding draped over rows of seats that slid away to where the athletics track was hidden, beneath the temporary seating which is where we would be. Looking back up to the top of the stand really gave you an appreciation of the enormity of the ground. We were so glad we had booked seats just behind the goal in the lower tier.
The floodlights and the structures behind that keep the sound in.
As the ground filled up and the players came out to warm up I got going taking pictures and talking to fans. There was plenty of room between the seats and both sets of fans could make a good deal of noise with the transparent roof structure above the floodlights holding a lot of the sound in. The big screen allowed for both logos and team sheets to be visible and the atmosphere really started to build when the bubble machines were turned on and the teams were led out.
AFCB getting down to work.
Getting near to kick off.
While there was nothing in terms of half time entertainment the fans busied themselves in and around the drinks area with plenty of information about not taking alcohol back to seats and no standing, the latter was certainly ignored. West Ham threatened fans with eviction for standing and yet I could hardly see anybody seated.
AFCB fill out their ticket allocation.
Bubbles at the ready.
Not the best of scores.
While the result was disappointing it was an away experience that was worth the trip. We were less pleased with the route back home though as the crowds were held by marshals just before the underground, and people were moved into two different lines with one moving far faster than the other. It was a shepherding exercise that was not particularly pleasant, but while it may have helped the through through the public stations it frustrated the majority in the queues. Goodness knows how some fans of big Premier League clubs will react when they are faced with that - I see trouble ahead. Indeed, even unbeknown to us some AFCB and West Ham fans had skirmishes after the game. I guess the stadium is christened now!

Marc Wilson fires AFCB past Morcambe in the EFL Cup

Match Description
Morcambe 1-2 AFCB
EFL Cup 23 Aug 2016
Attendance: 2542 (incl. 293 AFCB)

AFCB travelled up to the Globe Arena to play Morecambe in the second round of the English Football League Cup last night. Marc Wilson was the hero scoring the winner - a low drive to the bottom corner on his debut from 35 yards out! Perhaps the other Mr Wilson can take inspiration from that. But the game was not as easy as AFCB might have hoped for.

AFCB got the perfect start with an early Max Gradel goal from the edge of the box, but Morcambe hit back by the 14th minute as Cole Stockton stabbed the ball into AFCB's net. 1-1 at half time meant the game was far from won and although AFCB had good possession and Aké and Marc Wilson had strong games at the back, it was a shame that more strikers did not get their names on the score sheet for me. yet, Marc Wilson will be delighted with his debut that was watched by 293 AFCB fans. 

Eddie Howe went for a very strong line up for the game with 10 changes from the West Ham defeat. It was a surprise to see Junior Stanislas back in the frame and while it would have been exciting to see Hyndman and Mousset make their starts even if they were on the bench. Marc Pugh was back on the bench too after a couple of matches when he was injured. 

It will be Preston North End at home in the next round for AFCB.

Official AFCB Tweets and Live Blog

01: We're underway here in the @EFLCup at the Globe Arena. Come on you Cherries!
Live Blog: Another warning sign for the Cherries as Barkhuizen fires wide after a lovely move on the edge of the area
06: First save of the night and it's Federici who denies Barkhuizen's effort from in the box. Good stop!
It has to be said
08: A lovely move sees Gradel pick the ball up on the edge and smash a low left-footed effort off the post and in! 0-1 here!
Live Blog: Gradel picks the ball up on the corner of the area and strikes the ball low into the bottom corner - in off the post. 1-0!Live Blog: Nice play from the Cherries - the goal has definitely settled them.
Live Blog: Stanislas almost makes it two! Francis' ball towards Stanislas on the left inside the area, he advances and its a great save from Roche
13: Chance! Francis feeds Stanislas and he hits an effort in the box which Roche has to 
palm away.
Live Blog: Goal to morecambe 1-1
Live Blog: A disappointing blow for the Cherries as Stockton receives the ball inside the area and from inside the area turns and squirms the ball into the bottom corner beyond Federici
GOAL for Morecambe. 1-1.
14: Stockton was alive to a ball in the box and poked the ball into the bottom corner. All level here
Live Blog: Short Cherries corner
22: Close! Francis crosses for Grabban who glances a header an inch wide of the left post. Unlu
ckyLive Blog: The game has quietened down a little here now
Live Blog: Great defending from Ake as he battles with Dunne to chase down a long ball - the Chelsea man is eventually fouled
28: Stanislas' cross from the right hits Afobe before Gradel's effort in the box is well blocked.
Live Blog: Great save from Roche to deny Afobe
30: Double save! Roche denies Afobe low to his right before getting up quickly to deny Gradel the rebound!
Live Blog: Smith might get booked here - a late challenge on On Barhuizen. He escapes a booking and just gets a ticking offLive Blog: Short corner, Gradel then crosses to Cook inside area, He curls a shot goal wards but it is blocked
43: Blocked! Gradel and Grabban combine and the striker's shot from eight-yards produces a great block from the Morecambe defender.
Live Blog: Morecambe break and Wilson is the hero as he gets down well to prevent Stockton scoring before the Cherries clear
Live Blog: 1 min of added time to play here
Wide to Barkhuizen and his shot comes off the post what a chance!!! 1-1 here HT
45: Off the post! Barkhuizen gets the ball in the box and hits a venomous effort which bounces off the inside of the post! Close shav
HALF-TIME: #mfc 1-1 #afcb - Gradel's opener followed by Stockton's strike mean the Cherries go into the break level.

Second Half
Live Blog: Cherries get the second half underway - a reminder it is 1-1 here thanks to Gradel's first half goal.
Live Blg: Ake has looked solid tonight
Live Blog? Nice turn from Grabban on the edge of the area. He advances and shoots from the edge of the area but the shot is blocked
Live Blog: Not had much luck from corners this evening.
Live Blog: Afobe wide to GradelPlays it to Gosling - but its mis hit
Live Blog: Lots of possession for Howe's men but the chances aren't clear cut
Live Blog: Molyneux shoots but Francis blocks
Live Blog: Attendance 2542 - 293 away fans
Live Blog: Credit to Grabbs - he is persevering! He has had lots of chances, just needs to score one to get his confidence back you feel

Live Blog: Ake shoots. Charged down
Live Blog: What a goal!
Live Blog: Its Wilson on his debut
from 35 yards out, he shoots low and hard and it nestles in the far bottom corner of the net
Live Blog: 2-1 to the Cherries - what a debut for Wilson!
53: A corner was cleared and the ball fell to Wilson who hit a wonderful effort into the bottom corner 25-yards out! Great strike! 1-2 here!Live Blog: Morecambe going forward here now. They aren't out of this. However Molyneux's shot from 25 yards goes comfortably over\
Live Blog: Pugh is coming on here. Pugh replaces Stanislas here
Live Blog: They aren't getting beyond half way
Live Blog: Great challenge again by Ake to deny morecambe as they burst into the area
Live Blog: Solid debut from the former Stoke man
Live Blog:  Francis tries to take on his man and shoot
Live Blog:  Attack attack attack the away fans chant!Live Blog:  Dunne shoots from 30 yards out
70: Close! Dunn hits a powerful effort from 20-yards and it whizzes just past Federici's right 
post. Morecambe go again but the offside flag is up
Ellison comes on
Live Blog:  Here comes Mousset - i am excited about this
76: Second sub for #afcb - Lys Mousset comes on for his full #afcb debut to replace Grabban.
Live Blog:  Brad Smith showing some pace on the left. He then has a shot but its well over the barLive Blog: Dunno coming off for Morecambe as Mullin comes onLive Blog: Mousset is played in inside the area, but he is off balance and shoots wide at the near postLive Blog: Mousset on the ball - advances forward. He then shoots, it takes a deflection and goes wide
Live Blog: Late bit of pressure here from the hosts, who trail 2-1Live Blog: Silly foul committed by Mousset inside his own halfLive Blog: Mullen with a diving header - he was unmarked but Feds dives to his left to catch
Live Blog: Afobe in space inside the area, he shoots but its under hit and an easy save for Roche
90: THREE minutes added time for #afcb to see out their lead.
Live Blog: And finally the referee blows up! The Cherries have won and are through!

Federici, Francis, M Wilson, Ake, B Smith; Stanislas, Gosling, L Cook, Gradel, Grabban, Afobe.

Subs: Holmes, Lee, Buckley, O'Kane, Hyndman, Pugh, Mousset.

Roach, Wakefield, Edwards, Whitmore, Conlan, Fleming, Rose, Barkhuizen, Dunn, Molyneux, Stockton

Shrimps Subs
McGowan, Kenyon, Mullin, Ellison, Nizic, Turner, Hedley

Republic of Ireland call ups
There were call ups for Marc Wilson, Eunan O'Kane and Harry Arter.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

AFCB have to up the goal count

The Cherries may have played two top-end sides from last season, but they have not managed to score more than one goal, despite all that summer spending. That is not great reading for the fans that want to see the net busted a few times to get the Cherries on their way. It is hoped that tonight's League Cup match will see the goals start to flow, but the match against West Ham really should have seen more goals.
More shooting practise is required.
Whether Jordan Ibe was caught up in the moment or not, he will be wishing he had taken on the shot himself when he was through against Adrian. Instead he chose to pass and while that was unselfish, it didn't bring the result that he or the team were expecting in that position. James Collins made the block and the chance was gone. Wilson may need goals more than most to get himself going, but AFCB are not good enough to pass up opportunities that were as open as that opportunity.

Josh King's following long-shot may have looked spectacular, but it didn't ultimately trouble Adrian enough and there has to be more efforts on goal earlier in the match. There was a typical rally right at the end where AFCB could have got off the hook if King or Francis had found the net, but why did it take until the 90+ minutes for the side to get that close to scoring? It would be easy for Eddie just to change things and give Benik Afobe a go but the root cause of the side's failure to score at the moment is the fact that it is not creating many chances.

I'd like to see Andrew Surman getting on the ball more and seeing Ibe, King, Wilson or Grabban making decisive runs. Yet, the movement has been fairly pedestrian in an attacking sense and central defenders have not found too much difficulty in holding AFCB at bay. Taking shots earlier and when not always fully set is not always a bad option. AFCB have to up their desire when they get to the opposition's box. perhaps some new faces will do better against Morecambe tonight. UTCIAD!