Tuesday, 22 November 2016

AFCB looked eager to impress against Stoke from the start

There was no indication that AFCB's players were at all anxious about playing Stoke City. While they knew it was a massive game with the double-header of Arsenal and Liverpool coming next, it was a display that said a lot about how the side is desperate to do well and go into the big matches with something positive and they could only do that by going at Stoke City at full pelt from the off.

In the past we have seen the side perhaps feel sorry for itself, when things haven't gone right. That was perhaps the story of the defeat to Sunderland, but this game against Stoke was a game that the players knew they could win and it was clear to me that Howe had sent the players out with the view that they owed the away fans something. The stat of no away wins was great motivation of course and with it being 25 years since a win against Stoke City there were some records to put right. Moreover, it was Eddie Howe's 50th game in charge of the side for a Premier League match.
Simon Francis will have been delighted to get the first away win.
While I don't want to take anything away from AFCB, I do think it was a good time to play Stoke City. They had done well before the international break and many of their players had been involved in tough international games like Anautovic and Shaqiri, while AFCB's Harry Arter and Jack Wilshere had been involved in winning camps over the international break. AFCB's batteries were re-charged and that extra energy and positivity was boosted again by bringing in Adam Federici and Nathan Aké who were eager to impress.

So team selection was excellent and in midfield AFCB were extremely strong. Gosling and Arter know each others game well and with Wilshere getting between Stoke's midfield and defence, there was always a problem for Stoke when AFCB broke quickly with the pace of King and Stanislas. It was a very balanced team and John Willliams at BBC Radio Solent was confident even before kick off when he saw the team, as he felt it was set up to be a hard to beat side. There was strength through the middle that was improved with the addition of Aké, and the team needed to be tough against a strong team like Stoke. 

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