Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Callum gets back on the score sheet

A fan behind me in the crowd at the Emirates was asking "who's going to take it? Who will take the penalty?" when Callum Wilson had gone down in the box. Junior Stanislas had taken the previous penalty that AFCB had been awarded against Hull City and then he had rifled the ball right down the middle and just under the bar. It wasn't mad to think that Junior would take the spot kick this time and yet there was no debate, it was Callum who took the responsibility.

Callum takes the outright lead in the AFCB goal scorers chart.
It was a good idea to change the penalty taker as Petr Cech surely studies them and would have had a mental note of what Junior did against Hull City, but had he any idea where Wilson would put his kick? The result of him diving the wrong way would suggest he had no idea and maybe it is a good tactic for AFCB to keep changing their penalty takers if there are so many who feel confident at taking them. 

For Callum Wilson, a goal is a goal. He won't mind that this one came from 12 yards and had he not been prevented from shooting moments earlier he might well have scored in open play. The strikers all want to be top of the goal chart though and Callum now has four goals that puts him on top. It may not mean anything to Eddie Howe or Jason Tindall, but Callum won't want anyone to be doubting that he is the man to rely on when a smart finish is required. Just hitting the back of the net helps strikers to feel they are doing okay and already looking for the next one. To be honest I'd rather have the strikers taking the spot kicks for that very reason.
The penalties AFCB have received might have been higer in number this season. Having missed out on one at Stoke they probably missed out on another at Arsenal. Referees seem reluctant to give a side more than one penalty in a game, and yet they should call a foul a foul and just because it is in the box does not mean that they have to refrain from such decisions once they have already awarded a penalty. If Callum steps forward for the next spot kick, I only hope he hits it well and takes it, having in mind all those penalties he was not awarded, if it gives him that extra edge to bury it with authority, like he did against Petr Cech.

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' December 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: It's not been all-out attack from AFCB

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Just because we have Wilshere et al, don't expect Sturridge to sign

Daniel Sturridge has his critics at Liverpool and is arguably the striker that will be most in demand come the January transfer window and yet I can't see AFC Bournemouth as being his ideal club to come to just because he is missing out at Anfield. Yes, the attraction of Eddie Howe, Jordan Ibe, Brad Smith and Jack Wilshere may make strong reasons for Daniel to consider AFCB as a potential project, but don't forget why Liverpool are not playing him regularly - he does not have a high pressing work rate, which is something Eddie Howe is trying to encourage his team to do.
Callum and Josh are good enough to get the goals.
I rate Daniel Sturridge as a top finisher just as many fans do, but he is not the answer to AFCB's modest goal count. Eddie Howe will want to improve the side in January if he can but not at a cost that pushes aside the progress that Callum Wilson and Josh King have been making. While bringing in a A class finisher would help them to learn and develop their game it is playing time that they most need and that would be cut short. While last season Glenn Murray came to the club to give experience and know how of the Premier League, the side is not at the same stage now and ideally AFCB will be looking for more strikers that are young and showing promise. I rather like the potential back up behind Sturridge at Liverpool - Divock Origi. That is the kind of player that I imagine appeals more to a side making it's way in the Premier League and looking to develop talent.

As long as Eddie believes he has enough goal power at the club, he may not be so desperate to bring in another striker. Benik Afobe and Max Gradel will be absent while they are at the African Cup of Nations, but it is hard to know how long they will be away for and if they will keep injury-free. Other clubs will also find themselves short as well during this period and the prices for players will be high as many clubs will already be concerned about the prospects of relegation. Striker prices will be at a premium, so it may be more stringent for Howe to look at other areas of the pitch where he could strengthen.

While many AFCB fans complain about the lack of shots from the team it is intriguing to see that AFCB are 12th in the number of shots they have taken and as for goals outside the box they are at the lofty position of 8th, even though they have only scored twice from distance. In essence the team is not doing badly and in terms of the defence the team is ranked 5th for clean sheets - well ahead of the next visitors Liverpool - by the way.

Perhaps Eddie has already picked the players he has admired at Liverpool and will choose to look elsewhere come January.
The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' December 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: It's not been all-out attack from AFCB

To sign up for the newsletter just complete the form below - like all good things it's free:

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Brad Smith deserved his run out

Many fans were surprised to see that Charlie Daniels had been left out of the team for the Arsenal match, but he was unavailable apparently because of a hip strain. That meant the gap at left back could be filled by Brad Smith and this was the first chance for many AFCB fans to see Brad unless they had seen him in the English Football League Cup against Morecambe or Preston North End.

Brad was jumping in at the deep end with his Premier League debut for AFCB at Arsenal, but his experience as an ex-Liverpool payer stood him in good stead. He was well prepared and I felt he had a reasonable game and almost got on the score sheet towards the middle part of the first half, when he forced Petr Cech to make one of the few saves he was called into action for.
Brad Smith warms up before the Arsenal game.
While the pace at which Charlie Daniels plays is a real adrenaline buzz for the team, it is hard for another player to come in and have the same impact overnight. Brad was pretty composed though and did not give the ball away that often. Following the slow introduction of Nathan Aké and now Brad Smith, there are signs that Eddie Howe is looking more closely at the larger squad to play in games and I wonder if we might even see Tyrone Mings before too long. While Brad has had to be patient to get his chance, Tyrone has also been through a lot.

The changes have not been something that Eddie Howe will have wanted to have to do as the back four is one area of the team where confidence and reliability is usually built up by players being consistently picked and knowing each others game. It is just that part of the season where suspensions and injuries start to accumulate and the squad is being fully used now. Whether Brad carries on in the team will be a talking point for Sunday's game as he would certainly be keen to play against Liverpool you'd think. Whether that extra excitement for him is something that will give him the shirt is unlikely if Charlie has recovered from his hip strain. I'd imagine that it would be hard for Brad to miss out though so he will be giving it everything in training this week.

Getting a clean sheet against Liverpool will be just as hard as achieving that against any f the other top six sides and Eddie will be having to think hard as to what his best options are now. 

The scoreline did not reflect AFCB's performance

Eddie Howe was not dismissive of his sides attempts to live with Arsenal on the pitch. He was keen to stress that the side matched Arsenal for long periods of the game, and that if some decisions had gone their way they could have come away with a result.

While the points did not materialise for AFCB they did give a good account of themselves if we ignore the moment of madness for the first goal. The Cherries were fielding a side with a few changes from the regular starting 11 and hat should be seen as encouraging. The side also scored, be it from the penalty spot, but they had not managed that in their last to games against Arsenal.
AFCB at the Emirates.
While the scoreline reads 3-1 here was the feeling that AFCB were always in the game and when hey drew level there was no sign that they were the lesser force. While the crowd enjoyed their passing and attacking-play, AFCB still found it hard to really test Petr Cech in goal. Apart from Brad Smith's attempt at the end of the firs half the Arsenal back line rarely saw AFCB's attacks get a run in on goal.

The difference between the two sides for me was Alexis Sanchez. Even if he had not scored two of the three goals and another Arsenal player had scored them, it was Alexis that was pulling the strings and moving around the pitch to cause the most problems. AFCB still lack that player to take a game by the scruff of the neck and to hurt other teams by constantly drawing fouls and punishing poor bits of play. Arguably, AFCB fans and Eddie Howe wants Jack Wilshere to come in and do that job, but he has not had that kind of influence on games yet. AFCB will have him available for the visit of Liverpool when they'll need to take the game to the opposition in that way if they are to get anything from the game. 
I can't fault AFCB for their overall team spirit and energy though against Arsenal. They stuck to their task. It is that something special that they need to find in games to bridge the gap to these top teams.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Steve Cook - what were you thinking?

Steve Cook has been a stalwart of Eddie Howe's sides over the last few seasons and he has always been a player that is honest and hard working. Against the best though he, like many others in the squad were going to be tested, and at this higher level he is still perhaps finding one or two weaknesses in his game that he did not know he had.
Steve Cook has not had many bad days but this was one of them.
The mistake he made at Arsenal was tough on him, as it came early on, and once he had made the wrong decision there was no way back for him to change it. He knew that he had dropped a clanger, but his team-mates accepted it and carried on. It was great to see them get back level within the next 12 minutes or so following the opener, as it released Steve Cook a bit from the tension of his earlier indiscretion.

Only Steve will know why he decided to go back to Federici when he could have played a ball up the line without any danger. He decided to try and retain possession and yet gifted it to Arsenal's most prolific striker. It is the second time this season when he has probably felt that an opponent's goal was down to one of his misdirected passes, but these things can happen and Steve will find his own way with dealing with it.

I wonder whether moving him from the left centre-back position to bring in Nathan Aké has done Steve any favours. He was playing well next to Francis and now has found himself questioning his performances, and he has been excellent at times, so I hope he does not dwell on the mistakes too long. 

If Aké is the best defender then he should play, but I suggest that moving Cook across is not yet a position where Steve Cook is comfortable. With Adam Smith now back available, Franno can move back to the right centre-back position and maybe it is Steve Cook that needs to have some time away from the heat in the next couple of games. That may sound like punishing Steve for a mistake, but I would see it more as marvelling at the form of Aké who has made himself hard to ignore. 

Cherries only manage temporary recovery at Emirates 3-1

Match Report
Arsenal 3 v 1 AFCB 
27 November 2016
Attendance: 59,978 
We arrive at the Emirates stadium.
Getting off to a good start against top sides like Arsenal is crucial and while Steve Cook looked back horrified at his dreadful back pass on 11 minutes that Alexis Sanchez gratefully accepted to put Arsenal ahead, the Cherries rallied well. Indeed, Callum Wilson's well won penalty on 22 minutes put the Cherries level beating Petr Cech from the spot. Yet, everything fell apart in the second half when AFCB failed to get to grips with Sanchez and Ozil and it was Theo Walcott that headed the Gunners back in front. While Michael Jones will look red faced on his huge error not to award a second AFCB penalty for Nacho Monreal's excellent catch, like a quarter-back, in the box, the Cherries were up against it all game with the yellow cards being handed out in their direction and it was only a surprise that it took Arsenal as long at the 90th minute to put the game away.
The Cherries in their blue away kit.
Charlie Daniels was the surprise omission from the squad so Brad Smith made his Premier League debut for the Cherries and Adam Smith returned to the team on the right wing. Meanwhile, Federici retained his goalkeeper position and Jordan Ibe returned to the bench.
AFCB await handshakes from Arsenal players.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery

Arsenal started fastest with an early shot from Ozil that was blocked before Adam Smith went up the other end and shot wide from a Simon Francis pass. The speed of the game was not suiting AFCB though who soon found both Steve Cook and then Simon Francis booked for fouls on Sanchez and Oxlaide-Chamberlain, respectively. From the second free kick, Sanchez picked out Elneny, on the edge of the box, but his shot was blocked.

Still AFCB were finding it difficult to clear their lines and the real heart breaker came when Steve Cook decided to play a ball back to Federici without looking at the whereabouts of Sanchez who had a simply job of beating the keeper to the ball and rounding him to shoot into an empty net - 1-0 to the Arsenal on 11 minutes.

That was bad enough but a challenge by Nathan Aké on Sanchez in the box saw some worried faces among the AFCB crowd, but no foul was committed.

Arsenal had a problem with Debuchy who was subbed on 15 minutes for Gabriel to come on. AFCB started to get their game together then and won a few corners. An attempt by Nathan Aké to get on the end of one drew a few gasps, but the ball soon returned through Gosling to Wilson and when he went down the referee pointed to the spot. Callum Wilson steered the ball low and to Petr Cech's right - we were all square 1-1!

Harry Arter was then the recipient of a heavy stamp of a challenge from Monreal who was carded. Adam Smith put a header over from the free kick, as AFCB started to grow in confidence. Debutant Brad Smith was also getting forward and found himself in a good position to shot on 27 minutes but his shot was saved low down on the angle of the near post by Cech.

While AFCB played some great possession football they were not finding it easy to get in positions to shoot and Wilshere's craft was certainly missing. Steve Cook again misdirected a pass that Eleny luckily could strike cleanly. Arsenal were looking strong now with Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Sanchez linking up well only for Sanchez to shoot narrowly over the near post. AFCB were hanging on slightly as the first half came to a close and after a couple of corners Sanchez struck a shot from the right that cannoned off the cross bar.
AFCB recovered well to be level at half time.
Second half
Josh King was quick to win AFCB a corner in the second half. But it was Arsenal who were soon forcing the play. A cross from Ozil to the left side found Monreal, after Aké's half headed clearance, and Monreal who fired it back across the box to find Theo Walcott in space to head home and make it 2-1 with Nathan Aké unable to clear the ball off the line. 

There was still 35 minutes to go, but AFCB were second best at this point. They did not give up the fight easily though. AFCB kept the corners coming and Josh King whipped in a ball that flew right across the box. 

Sanchez was carded having caught Harry Arter and then Callum Wilson was subbed for Benik Afobe to make his return to Arsenal in a Bournemouth shirt. It would have been poetic if he could score I thought. Junior Stanislas also left the field with 20 minutes to go and Jordan Ibe replaced him. 

The curse of poor refereeing was the to hit AFCB for the second game in a row as Monreal and Adam Smith challenged for the ball with Monreal cradling the ball like he was rocking a young born baby off to sleep! He might as well of been holding the ball still and painting a face on it - the ref still would have let him off! Arter was so incensed that he over stepped the mark and was another one finding himself yellow carded.

As Oxlaide-Camberlain made way for Ramsey and Walcott was subbed for Olivier Giroud, Arsenal became a bit sloppy. Francis won a corner and the cross landed right at Benik Afobe's feet. This was his moment only, he didn't seem switched on and side-footed a weak shot straight at Cech!

The yellow cards were still mounting up for AFCB as Brad Smith became the latest recipient just leaving Nathan Akee in the back four to avoid a booking. Lys Mousset replaced Brad Smith straight away.

Time was not on AFCB's side and the ball was still up the wrong end. Federici was punching clear under pressure. Meanwhile, Gosling was also now yellow carded. As Lys Mousset put a header wide, AFCB's last effort disappeared. It was punished by a swift counter-attack. Ozil unravelled the last vestiges of AFCB's defence only to sweep the ball to Giroud who glanced across the box to give Sanchez a simple walk in goal on 90 minutes -3-1.

Added time saw a yellow card for Gabriel on Adam Smith, but AFCB had already been broken by then.
Simon Francis and Dan Gosling applaud the supporters. 
Lys Mousset with Eddie walking behind.
The flurry of early yellow cards put AFCB on the back foot from the start and while Steve Cook made a bad mistake, the team struggled to cope with Sanchez all game. Had they nailed him early on it could have been a different scoreline. Arsenal played everything threw Sanchez and AFCB's midfield did not get close to him as he wondered just about where he wanted to go. Still, there were positives in Brad Smith not looking out of place and there was game time for Afobe, Mousset and Ibe to bring them more into the fold. Federici will wonder how three goals got passed him as he had little to do, but when Arsenal had chances they took them. It's something AFCB need to add to their game and we've been saying that for a while.
Arsenal just had the edge on AFCB this time.

Federici Francis, S Cook, Aké, B Smith, A Smith, Stanislas, Arter, Gosling, King, Wilson

Allsop, Mings, Fraser, Pugh, Ibe, Mousset, Afobe

AFCB Ratings
Federici 5, Francis 6, S Cook 3, Aké 7, B Smith 5, A Smith 8, Stanislas 5, Arter 6, Gosling 5, King 5, Wilson 6

Cech, Debuchy, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Wacott, Elneny, Ozil, Xhaha, Oxlaide-Chambaerlain, Sanchez

Arsenal Subs
Gibbs, Gabriel Pauliston, Ramsey, Giroud, Ospina, Iwobi, Coquelin

Refreee: Michael Jones: -10 awful bias on yellow cards, missed penalty - I'd better stop there!!

Sunday, 27 November 2016

AFCB can take advantage of Arsenal's heavy schedule

There was rumours that Arsene Wenger might well rest some of his stars for the game against AFCB. Sanchez is one that has done a lot of miles with his international travel and having played Paris St Germain in the week and with the English Football League Cup game to come against Southampton, it is possible that Wenger will feel he can beat the Cherries without one or two of his main stars.
Will Jordan Ibe walk out as a sub or a starter at the Emirates?
I personally hope he does rest some players and comes unstuck. While Arsenal have to keep their eyes focussed on their title aspirations, there is also the worry of burnout and Arsenal have not had a good record in that respect. Home form though has taken a hit of late for them with draws against Middlesbrough and Spurs. Three points off the top of the table probably suits Arsenal as they tend to get edgy when leading the way, but six points would be a more sizeable gap they could ill afford at this stage.

AFCB have little to concentrate on other than the league at the moment and with a full weeks' recovery from the match against Stoke City, Howe can try and pick his most energetic side to face the Gunners at the Emirates. Arsenal themselves stole a point, late on, against Man Utd last time out, and a similar game plan for AFCB may be to wait until Arsenal find their legs heavier in the second half. The problem will be staying with them in that first 45 minutes.
Eddie Howe's subs have not really taken games away from teams yet, and it would be of interest to see if he would use Ryan Fraser and perhaps Lys Mousset as second half subs in a game like this, to see if he can stretch the Arsenal back line. I expect though that Howe will look for more experience on the bench if Gradel and Pugh are available. 

Possible AFCB Team 4-2-3-1
Boruc (GK), Francis (RB), Aké (CB), S Cook (CB), Daniels (LB), Arter (CM), Surman (CM), 
Stanislas (RW), Gosling CM), King (LW), Wilson (FW)

Subs: Federici, A Smith, Mings, Gradel, Ibe, Pugh, Afobe

Arsenal Home Form

AFCB Away Form


Saturday, 26 November 2016

AFCB are being tested to keep on track

The togetherness of the squad has never been questioned and it is remarkable that Eddie Howe, and Jason Tindall have managed to surround themselves with players and staff that are prepared to put the overall cause in front of their own personal needs. It has been quite a few weeks with players being held at knife point, others finding that they can't play international football because their papers were sent to the wrong country and suspensions and back injuries disrupting the selection process.

Still AFCB have remained confident of getting a result with the personnel they have and while the team may feel that they have been tested already, they may find that Eddie Howe calls on even more of the squad come January and the African Cup of Nations. Then we may find that Max Gradel and Benik Afobe just might do really well with Cote d'Ivorie and the Democratic Republic of Congo and that could mean an extended stay away from AFCB. 
The whole squad is being tested now.
So why fans may not know how much work is being done by those out of the team at the moment like Lewis Grabban and Emerson Hyndman, it is important that these players can see a goal for themselves come January. The FA Cup will also come into play with the third round and Eddie will have some serious thinking to do about team selection with the games really building up in December as we enter the busy period.

AFCB are still only five points above the relegation zone despite their lofty position of 10th so there can't be any let up. The test of Arsenal and Liverpool though must be seen as welcome challenges. This is what AFCB wanted to be in the Premier League for and if we as supporters can't get up for these games and push the team on then we would be letting the players down. We may becoming more used to seeing AFCB take on these leading sides, but we want to see them start taking the game to these big weights and if we really get behind them we could find that this turns out to be a very special season. It's not just AFCB that are being tested, the team need our support. UTCIAD! 

Broomhill Garden Conservatories

Premier Talk: Swansea 5-4 Palace - And that's why we love the Premier League!

Daily Cannon - don't expect an Englishman after Wenger and Wilshere - he's ours!

Rival Lines
Arsenal v AFCB
28 November 2016
Blogger Interview: Daily Cannon

This week I had a great chat with Lee Hurley at the Daily Canon - an Arsenal blog that started back in 2008. I am sure there have been the odd grumblings since then on Arsenal on his site but even this week the mood might have been dampened following recent results. At least Arsenal fans know that Jack Wilshere is not returning to haunt them in his AFCB colours, but what do Arsenal fans think of one of their stars coming to the south coast and are they looking forward to this game?

CC: What did you feel about Jack Wilshere joining AFCB on loan and do you think his time at Arsenal is over?

DC: I was surprised when a loan move was first rumoured but it’s a good move for Jack and I’m glad to see him end up at a club like Bournemouth who play good football. I don’t think his time at Arsenal is over, but I’m a lot less confident about that than I was a few months ago. There is a place for him in the Arsenal midfield, especially with Santi Cazorla’s ongoing injury problems and had he stayed at Arsenal he would have got a lot more game time this season than anyone was expecting. I genuinely couldn’t call it, but if you put a gun against my head, I’d say he will be at Arsenal next season.

CC: Do you think Arsenal will look for an English manager after Wenger or are they more likely to continue to favour the Premier League's trend for foreign managers?

DC: It’s impossible to know what this Arsenal board will do when Wenger goes, mostly because none of them are real football people. There is no clear successor at the club at the minute and that makes me think we will see Wenger sign a new deal. As for nationality, it all depends on if there is an Englishman good enough. Where he comes from won’t play into it at all, but I’d be surprised to see an Englishman take over, solely because I don’t think there are any at that level just now.

CC: Were you pleased with the point at Old Trafford and apart from the point what do you think Wenger got out of that game in his understanding of his side?

DC: We were awful against United (and PSG) so to get a point, you have to be happy. We haven’t played well for a few months now but seem to be still grinding out results. The only thing Wenger learned (or had reinforced) after the game at Old Trafford is that this side still have psychological problems there.

CC: Have you been impressed with Mohammed Elneny and what are his main strengths?

DC: We haven’t seen much of Elneny since he signed in January but what we’ve seen has been decent. He’s not a showstopper, just a solid performer. He won’t ever be a first-team regular unless we have tons of injuries or he makes a massive improvement, however. Very much a squad player.

CC: What's the latest news on Danny Wellbeck's recovery from injury and is the injury to Hector Bellerin a big problem for Arsenal?

DC: Welbeck should be back in the new year. As for Bellerin, he’s a massive miss because Carl Jenkinson is incomparable. Solid enough in defence, Jenkinson isn’t as adept going forward and Bellerin’s absence really blunts one of Arsenal’s three-prongs of attack.

CC: Do you think Jamie Vardy would have been a great buy for Arsenal in the summer?

DC: I have never been so glad to have a player turn down Arsenal as I was when Jamie Vardy said no. He wouldn’t have been a great buy. Giroud offers more from his all-round play and Vardy’s character is, well, let’s just say ‘less than ideal’ for Arsenal.

CC: I was surprised to see Giroud only has five goals this season, despite getting the equaliser against Man Utd. But are Arsenal a weaker side when Giroud does not start?

DC: Arsenal are neither weaker nor stronger with Giroud starting, just different. He has only started two games all season after an extended summer holiday and then a toe injury. He has five goals and two assists in all competitions this season with only 340 minutes played.

CC: Arsenal have drawn their last two home games in the Premier League. If you were to draw this game as well would alarm bells be starting to ring in terms of title aspirations?

DC: On the back of the draws against United, Spurs, PSG as well as the 0-0 against Boro, I think we would hear a lot of boos at the Emirates if they fail to win against Bournemouth. Alarm bells are already tingling, despite being unbeaten in our last 18. We just haven’t been playing well at all.

CC: Arsenal have drawn against Spurs and Man Utd and beaten Chelsea, so you've done okay against the others in the top six, but do you think the Premier League is stronger this season and that Arsenal can slip up against anyone?

DC: Arsenal can always slip up against anyone, regardless of what else is happening around them.

CC: What have you thought of Bournemouth's start to the season?

DC: Bournemouth have done very well so far this season and from what little I have seen have been unlucky not to be at least a few points better off. You’re in tenth place with a slow and steady build. You have to be delighted with that.

CC: How do you think Arsenal will line up against AFCB?

DC: Cech – Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal – Coquelin (though I wish he’d start Xhaka), Ramsey – Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez – Giroud.

CC: Thanks for the comments Lee. It's nice to hear some Arsenal fans who haven't already been eyeing up Eddie Howe as their next manager. The level of depression among fans at Arsenal always surprises me though as most of us would be thrilled to finish in the top four. The ceiling is much higher though for the Gunners and I'm not totally sure their Board wants the same as their fans. Meanwhile, the Daily Cannon is discussing the possibility of Ozil leaving London and Arsene Wenger is still trying to work out what his team is lacking - hop over to the Daily Cannon to read more on these stories and lots more.

Friday, 25 November 2016

AFCB have to approach Arsenal game with a strong mindset

Playing at the Emirates Stadium may be one of the hardest grounds for the Cherries to go to this season and while the team has finally got a win away from home, this will not be a game that AFCB can go into without a good plan. Arsenal will pick and prod and try to examine AFCB's defence with some intent and the last 15 minute syndrome that we have seen against Stoke City of just trying to hold out is not going to be the way AFCB will won't to approach this one for 90 minutes.

Middlesbrough tried to do that against Arsenal and found themselves under a real barrage in the first half at the Emirates, but somehow they stayed in the game, and even could have beaten Arsenal. That will give some hope to Eddie Howe that his side can do equally as well if not better. Having played a strong physical side like Stoke away from home it is probably set up as a good contest to on Arsenal now who themselves will want to get back to winning ways. That might just be the helping hand AFCB need to get in behind them if they underestimate AFCB on the break.
The Emirates stadium will be packed with AFCB fans for an early kick off.
Arsenal are very good at building up pressure with corners and keeping the ball to pull players out of position, but AFCB have to play with attention to detail. There is probably going to be a change in the way Howe looks at this game, as I don't see AFCB keeping the ball as much as Arsenal, so they will have to adapt and find ways of pressing Arsenal in their own half when they can, while being organised themselves at the back. One way that Bournemouth might find they can get at Arsenal is to win free kicks around their box, as with Junior Stanislas back in the team he will fancy his chances of at least hitting the target from 20-25 yards.
We know Arsenal are resilient as they came back against Man Utd right at the death so even if AFCB do get an early goal it could become another Alamo. The test for AFCB's players is not to let the fact that they are playing Arsenal get to them. I don't want to see them stand off and not challenge for the ball. They have to have a mindset that is built around making life really difficult for whatever Arsenal player is on the ball. It's time for AFCB's players to believe that they are a top half side and that they can hurt these top teams. 

Callum Wilson attracts attention even when he's not scoring

The Chronicle Live has been shouting that Callum Wilson is on Rafa Benitez' radar at Newcastle for next season, if the Geordie's make a successful return to the Premier League. Such claims might not be so far off the mark having seen Mat Ritchie already leave the Cherries for the rewards of the northeast. But are AFCB a club that can start to resist big money moves for key players?
Callum only needs to focus on hitting the targets, not big money moves.
Callum Wilson has not been scoring regularly for AFCB this season, but is already being talked about for a possible move and as an English striker with Premier League experience he will be near the top of the list for many clubs that have more spending power than AFCB. West Ham Utd have previously shown an interest in the ex-Coventry man, and with possible vacancies for another top marksman at clubs like Spurs and Arsenal, there is every likelihood that the Cherries will have to gear themselves up for a fight to keep their striker - and that could be as early as January.

While AFCB would surely resist transfer talk of any kind for Wilson at the moment, he is likely to command a transfer fee that is top-rate, if he starts to score more regularly again. Big clubs will be aware that he has not been called up for a full England cap yet either and will be keen to try and land such a player before that eventuality when his fee would rise substantially. 

Eddie Howe will not want talk about Callum Wilson at this moment though as Callum's focus must be on getting back into the scoring mode that shot him to fame in the first place. Whether Callum is a 15 or 20-goal a man goalscorer in the Premier League this season or not, he is seen as a front man that puts bums on seats, but hopefully Callum has no interest in moving on just yet.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Jordan Ibe will want to get involved in Arsenal game

It must have been a traumatic week for Jordan Ibe, but I hope he can put the terrible incident he suffered behind him and concentrate on his football again. I'd expect that is all he wants to do now and Sky Sports has reported that Jordan was back in training yesterday.

Jordan may well have more of a battle on than normal though to regain his place. I saw Max Gradel in training as well, and Marc Pugh, Lewis Grabban and Ryan Fraser will also fancy a crack at another start, if Callum Wilson starts up front along side Josh King. If Howe decides to play five across the midfield though as expected, we should see Surman, Gosling and Arter fill the place vacated by Jack Wilshere and Stanislas and King would probably be favourites to start on the wings.
Junior Stanislas and Jordan Ibe.
It may be that a bench position for Jordan Ibe would be best for him at the moment any way as a second half run out could give him some involvement, while not heaping the pressure back on him. He knows that he has more to offer in front of goal an with his assists and now he needs to get down to delivering on some of that potential that the club are always talking about.

It is not just Jordan that has found goals to come by though. Callum Wilson has not scored in three games, and Josh King has not netted in the last five games. Afobe also has not scored all season, so there is some questions about whether AFCB's front line is really firing well enough at the moment with recent goals coming from Dan Gosling in central midfield and Nathan Aké in defence. While it may not matter too much who gets the goals, there is certainly enough doubt about the front line for Howe to consider trying some other squad members on the wings rather than Jordan Ibe.


Can AFCB build on first away win?

The result at Stoke was not exactly expected. AFCB had only gathered two points from their away matches before that game, and taking on Arsenal will be no easy matter. Still Eddie Howe will be hoping that he gets a few more decisions for his team than he got t the Bet365 stadium.
The Cherries will only establish breathing space on
the bottom clubs if they can overcome some of the heavyweights like Arsenal.
The away form has been poor this season and there is no reason for that from what Eddie Howe says. He thinks it is strange and can't explain it. The side has created chances to win games, but it's the finishing that has been below par, and even at Stoke's stadium AFCB kept up their strong record of hitting the woodwork, when Wilshere tried his luck from range. I'd also argue that not many guilt-edge chances have fallen to Callum Wilson, even though he saw more of the ball at Stoke than in previous games.

The link play between Wilshere and King and Wilson has been improving and a few moves really opened Stoke up, like the penalty that never was for Callum Wilson when Arter played a through ball and Grant's save from King, when Wilshere had been looking for Wilson. But will better finishing be the only thing AFCB need to improve to get a result against Arsenal? I expect their whole overall game wold have to go up a notch or two. If getting a first win on the board away from home has been hard, back-to-back wins is going to need all the pieces to fall into place for AFCB.
A draw or a win at the Emirates would be very satisfying indeed. All AFCB's players would have to be on top form though and it will take a huge effort to keep close to players like Sanchez and Ozil all match if they play, and protecting Boruc or Federici will be difficult against such a strike force. When AFCB have won though they have picked up a draw in the next match with the exception of the WBA win, which was followed by defeat against Man City. What I'm saying is that when AFCB pick up points they tend to have a batch of points and putting small runs together will keep them in the top half of the league. So while it seems odds against them building on their three points at Stoke, AFCB's players should feel that they are going into this London match in good shape. I'm not sure Arsenal fans are that enthusiastic about their side after their recent form either.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Wilshere has to sit and watch now

I'd like to be sat next to Jack Wilshere for the game against Arsenal. While he will be able to pass on to Eddie Howe anything that might help AFCB in this game, he won't be able to play and that in itself will mean a change in the line up for AFCB. Still, what will be going through Jack's head? Will he be hoping for a draw or is his allegiance to Wenger now totally spent? 
I am not sure what will be going through Jack Wilshere's mind on Sunday,
but he should be one of the most relaxed people in the ground.  
Jack would probably have liked to play against his parent team, but Arsenal fans would never have liked that and contractually he can't any way. But who knows what will happen next season and if Wilshere still wants to be at Arsenal? I guess games like this will put questions through his head about where he wants to be next season, and while he has said very nice things about AFCB and his team-mates on the south coast, realistically it is unlikely that AFCB could fight for his long term signature with the likes of AC Milan sniffing around.

Whether the Wilshere experiment is seen as a good factor or as a one-off that didn't really come off will only be something that fans can assess at the end of the season. His inclusion means there is one less midfield place for perhaps Emerson Hynman to have grabbed a few games, but by being around Jack also can share his experience with players like Hyndman who have not yet experienced the kind of games that Jack has been in. 

Against Arsenal the cameras will surely be tuned into see Jack's face, whenever there is a goal to see, if there is a reaction and I suspect he will be wary of showing to much emotion if he is in the stands. He will know that Arsenal are the big favourites though and being in the underdog's camp at the moment, I wouldn't be surprised if he puts a little smile on if AFCB can get the better of the Gunners.

Federici could not have done more

I find it hard to imagine how difficult it must be for Adam Federici at AFCB. He knows he is the number two and changing the manager's mind on that has not been easy for him. While he had an opportunity against Stoke City, through a back injury to Artur Boruc, it is not the way he would have liked to win a place in the side.
Feds and Artur - the gloves are off.
The reappearance of Federici in front of an AFCB away crowd gladly did not have memories for him of Man City from last season. Adam knew he had to play well this time and he probably thought he would have been kept busier than he was. In the first half I think there was only a header from Ryan Shawcross that actually counted as a shot on target from Stoke. But the second half it was a different matter. Federici made the save from Wilfred Bony's header look fairly routine, and he must have been one of the most annoyed players on the pitch when he saw Simon Francis give a penalty away a second later. 

When a team miss a penalty there is a kind of belief that luck could be on your side and that gives more of an invisibility to keepers who can say to themselves - I'm not going to get beat today - and Federici through himself into a fair number of saves, particularly the point blank save from Walters, when he was not favourite to keep it out. There was a good amount of covering from his defenders that were doing all they could to help out, and I felt the lads really worked well together to cope with the Stoke City threat when it stepped up.

Whether Boruc feels well enough to come back for the Arsenal game is something only he will know, but it is likely that if Artur says he is okay that he will take his shirt back. So Federici is a hero for a day, but he is valued much higher than that. While Eddie has kept Boruc as the number one, he has always been behind Federici as class act, and it is just unfortunate that AFCB can't offer him more game time. But Boruc's form this season has been worthy of him staying the number one.