Monday, 8 August 2016

Three starting places could be undecided for Howe

Like many I'll be keen to see what starting 11 Eddie Howe picks to take on Man Utd on the opening day of the season. There are certain positions that I believe are penned in and are key starters, but my suspicion is that there are at least three players that Howe will be making late decisions over.

The players picked will of course have to fit a certain system and even that is not written in stone. I'd like to see AFCB play with two up front when they can, but I'd expect a deep number 10 role to be Howe's choice that can slip back into midfield when required. Therefore, I'm leaning towards him playing 4-2-3-1 against Man Utd, with Wilson the lone striker. Where I am less sure of personnel is at left back, centre-half and central midfield. The highly disputed places could see decisions have to be made over Steve Cook or Nathan Aké at centre-back, Charlie Daniels or Brad Smith at left back and Harry Arter or Lewis Cook in central midfield.
Lewis Cook is a starter for me.
Players that I think we can expect to start include Boruc in goal, Adam Smith at right back and Francis at centre-back. Andrew Surman is also penned in for me, but he could play with Arter or Lewis Cook in a two, with three attacking midfielders in front of them - Jordan Ibe on the right, Josh King in the number 10 role and Max Gradel on the left with Callum Wilson leading the line.

But what of those positions that are less certain? Eddie likes the odd surprise. Still, I always feel he is loyal when a player has done nothing wrong and it is up to the new lads to challenge for places and take it away from the regular starters. At the moment though I expect Eddie to be loyal to Charlie Daniels at left back. 

Central defence could simply be a question of fitness with Steve Cook who might not be as ready at Nathan Aké, who could start beside Simon Francis, even though Aké played in midfield against Valencia. The choice between Lewis Cook and Harry Arter is even more difficult in midfield and I believe Lewis Cook has shaded it in pre-season, even before Arter's injury. That is a big call to leave Harry Arter on the bench, but you pick players in form and Lewis Cook has got the bit between his teeth and has been the pre-season player that has looked strong and ready for the upcoming campaign.

The bench will be no less simple. Adam Federici, Brad Smith, Steve Cook, Harry Arter, Marc Pugh, Lys Mousset and Benik Afobe are my picks, but that would mean no spot for Dan Gosling or Shaun MacDonald or Eunan O'Kane, nor Lewis Grabban, Baily Cargill, Rhoys Wiggins or Ryan Fraser or Ryan Allsop.

Injuries worries would also make me guess that Eddie leaves out Junior Stanislas, Tryone Mings and Emerson Hyndman from the action. The 25-man squad itself could see one or two missing out as well.


  1. Spot on Peter. Exactly how(e) I see it too :) Ed could pull a surprise this week though with a new CB which would be interesting to see if he slotted him straight in. I can only think whoever it is who he has in mind cannot join until another deal goes through. Will be watching the tf news with interest. I still don't think he is entirely happy with Boruc. Feel sure and have heard from good source he's looking to strengthen squad with a proven no 1. We shall see. I hope so. For me Boruc has too many mistakes in him for all his brilliance on other occasions.

  2. I agree however i think that Ibe will miss out,based on loyalty and gradels great game vs valencia, so king will play out wide with arter playing alongside surman with cook in the number 10 position. This is not only defensively better but also lewis cook was outstanding going forward vs reading.

  3. I'm afraid to say maybe put h.a. be on the bench. L.cook had few pretty gd in the friendly. plus harry got slight injury?.