Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Palace can ill-afford a battering from the Cherries

Crystal Palace come to AFCB on the back of a crunching 0-3 home defeat to Man City in the FA Cup. It was not ideal preparation for Sam Allardyce's side, especially as he played a good number of his first team side in the fourth round of the cup. The league is what matters though for Allardyce and Palace this season and they may find this game comes too quickly for them.
Palace are likely to have a few different players from last time the two teams met.
I was looking through the Palace line-up against Man City and was a bit surprised to see Crhsitain Benteke, Andros Townsend, Joe Ledley and Jeffry Schlupp on the filed from the start. That seemed to back fire as Schlupp was taken off with a hamdtring pull after 76 minutes. They did make some other subs too, as the game moved away from them. Consistency is something that Palace have been struggling with just like the Cherries and on the road the Eagles have just had two win this season at Middlesbrough and Sunderland, plus a couple of draws.

The Watford away game they had on Boxing Day s the last time they scored away from home and they are still waiting for their first Premier League point of 2017. So is this a good time to play Palace? Absolutely, the Cherries must take advantage of this opportunity. There have been some close games with Palace, but this is a side that will play only one way against AFCB - it will be a long ball, height and set-plays for AFCB to defend. Howe knows what is coming and he needs to get a plan in place to nullify the physical side of Palace's game. Cabaye is there best play-maker, but if he is kept deep, then AFCB can get the upper hand in this game.

Benteke is the striker that will need the most looking after. He has eight goals now and is starting to look like the only man who is going to get them out of trouble with his ability to score goals on a regular basis. But it is the supply routes that AFCB must cut off. Wilfred Zaha is back from the Ivory Cup of Nations, the Ivory Coast having been knocked out and he didn't play in the FA Cup match fourth round which indicates that he will be available for this game. Spurs are said to be lining up a bid for the young winger and that could also be a reason for his absence from the team last weekend.

An under-performing Zaha though or one who is not quite on it may also be something that AFCB can exploit. Palace are reinforcing their side though having bought defender Patrick van Aanholt from Sunderland for a fee that could rise to £14m. Allardyce is still chasing two more signings as well, according to BBC reports.

Palace know it is now or never for them this season now. So AFCB can't be at all fragile in their defence which is going to have to improve for this match.

Crystal Palace Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Possible AFCB line up
Boruc (GK), A Smith (RB), Francis (CD), S Cook (CD), Daniels (LB),
Stanislas (RM), L Cook (CD), Surman (CD), Fraser (LD), Wilshere (FW), C Wilson (FW)

Federici, B Smith, Mings, Gosling, King, Ibe, Afobe ( Arter, I just feel might be rested)

Premier Talk
Why oh why is it transfer deadline day with matches going on?

Transfer News

Marc Wilson is linked with WBA and Hull City are still trying to get Max Gradel to sign. Glenn Murray is also ready to sign to Brighton & Hove Albion for £3m, according to Sky Sports.

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' February 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: Are AFCB just making up the numbers?

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Monday, 30 January 2017

Is Gosling a player AFCB will allow to move?

While much of the speculation about Callum Wilson this transfer window could have been expected from admirers and rivals in the Premier League, there are not so many teams that might have been said to be following the playing time of Dan Gosling. Still, a month or so after Burnley re-captured Joey Barton, they are now rumoured to be on the trail of ex-Newcastle and Everton star Dan Gosling.
Dan Gosling may be among those searching for more fist team football.
While Dan has been a player that has been a turn to man when the central figures of Andrew Surman and Harry Arter have been injured or suspended, he has been used very much as a cover player for the Cherries. Does he have more ambition than this? I see Dan as an under used player who now has another problem in that Lewis Cook is available for the Cherries. 

Dan is still a great age at 26, and he will be coming into the best period of his playing career in terms of his strength and what he knows about the game now. For the Cherries to sell him would be a shame in my mind as he could certainly be a rising player at the club for a few more seasons yet. But he has made 18 appearances this season and two of those were as a substitute - is that enough for Dan? Could he do better elsewhere?

It must be tempting for Dan to believe he can be a bigger player for a team in the Premier League. He also scores goals and has the work rate that would suit a side like Burnley, so I see this as a real decision for AFCB and Dan to make. Whether Eddie would allow Dan to move now though, with Emrson Hyndman already on loan and one fewer central midfield player on his books puts a major doubt in the spokes of Burnley for this transfer window. I think the Lancashire club has moved to late on this one, but come the summer this could be a harder option for Dan to ignore.

Wilshere and Aké raised the bar on AFCB signings

There is not much time left before the window shuts and AFCB seem more active in seeing players possibly going out of the door than getting a few to come in. That may all change in the coming hours ahead, but the signings that AFCB made in getting in Nathan Aké and Jack Wilshere in the last transfer window were sensational, and it has raised the bar of the type of players that AFCB now need to go after.
Will AFCB sign any players this transfer window?
If we are looking at permanent transfer fees for players of this high calibre, then AFCB would be struggling to shell out the millions that Arsenal and Chelsea would require and bringing in equal quality in January is probably out of the question. AFCB have to tighten their belt at some point and if the new stadium is more than a dream, then they will have to start budgeting some funds towards it - rich though Maxim Demin and Peak 6 Investments might be. Another problem is that there just isn't the talent around that can be brought in and immediately hit the ground running. The best bet is to go for players that are already earning their crust in the Premier League and Championship, but getting deals done in this kind of environment is real pressure.


For once, Eddie Howe seems happy to let his tight hold over one or two players slacken and we could see a few departures at least on loan, if not permanent exists from the club. While there is not much worry about some of the fringe players being moved on, there is a distinct lack of buzz about any incoming players and that is a bit of disappointment. Still, as I say, AFCB need to start watching their spending as it has been extremely high.

It is possible that the club is more keen at doing loan deals for a few players and it may be the best way that they can get the quality that they need. As we have seen with Aké and Wilshere, it is possible for loan signings to have a dramatic impact.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Cherries need to start beating bottom three sides

The Cherries' record against the bottom three sides has not been in line with where their own position is in the league. I'm not sure why AFCB have found it so difficult to get results against Sunderland, Hull City and Crystal Palace, but they can start to put that right on Tuesday night.
Crystal Palace and AFCB last season at Dean Court.
Beating the bottom sides now will, of course, extend the distance between these teams and the Cherries and while some teams will help do that job as well for the Cherries as games start to run out, there is a kind of satisfaction if your team can come away with wins against those who are struggling. We know that no one wants to go down and that Crystal Palace will be no easy game, but the pressure on them will be growing all the time having not yet won in the Premier League with Allardyce yet.


It was a very strange game when these two teams last met. It was very much a half each and a draw was probably a fair result, but if the Cherries are to challenge those top 10 places, draws at home won't be good enough. It is hard to say what is a good point now though and what is two points dropped. When Swansea can beat Liverpool at Anfield, you know that every game just has to be taken on its own merits and the Cherries just have to perform as well as they can.

I don't think there have been many games where AFCB have not really turned up, but there will be moments of games where they have seemed well off their normal levels, and it is surprising that most of these occasions have been when AFCB have been playing the bottom sides. Edie may do well to just tell the players to take this as a normal home game and imagine it is against a top six side. AFCB tend to get a better reaction when they know they have to up their game and it's probably important for this evening game that AFCB forget about where Palace are in the table.

Transfer News: WBA are said to be interested in Callum Wilson, Hull City are keen on Max Gradel, while Burnley want Dan Gosling. Meanwhile, Rangers boss MarK Warburton rates Emerson Hyndman as 'top class'. 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Can Adam Smith add more to his game?

Watching Adam Smith play against Watford, I saw a right back that has really started to enjoy his work in the final third of the pitch. He has become much better at beating his man and getting crosses over at dangerous angles into the box. What I'm not so sure about is how much more work he needs to put in on the defensive side of his game.

Adam Smith has been great going forward.
I don't think Adam is any more at fault than the other defenders at making the odd positional mistake when defending. He can often get away with some things because he is very quick to react, and likes to get very close to opponents. At times this may be his undoing as well, particularly when making headers if he hasn't got a run on players. But I wonder if he likes attacking more than defending?

In Eddie Howe's teams I imagine every player, apart from Artur Boruc, is told to get forward when there is a space to do so and cover is in place. I like the way Adam slaloms his way up the pitch and is always looking to get past his man as quickly as possible. For Miguel Britos, in the Watford match, it may have been a bit embarrassing to be beaten so easily with a nutmeg, but the intelligence from Smith to do that, and his confidence in pulling it off is very much what gives fans a lift. The whole crowd hooted with laughter, and that became fist-waving joy when Adam managed to deliver a final ball that Josh King could tuck away so comfortably.
Broom Hill Garden Buildings

Talk of Adam being in line for an England call up at some point may seem a bit premature, but he is an exciting player to watch and that is starting to be recognised. He probably goes down more than any other player in the AFCB side, and in some ways it is a shame that does not happen in the opposition's penalty box, but more usually around the half way line. What he does do well though is pick up the pace when he receives the ball. His first thought is usually to go forward or to make a forward pass, and that is a pretty good habit to have in my book.

Transfer News: Joe Quigley and Ollie Harfield sign contract extensions to 2018

Friday, 27 January 2017

Can Francis' return bring more leadership to the back line?

Simon Francis has been out for three games now and is eligible again for selection against Crystal Palace. He is surely keen to get back into the side, and won't have enjoyed sitting this out while the team has continued its low points return with one win in the last six games.
Simon Francis will be aiming to lead his troops to another victory on Tuesday night.
The back four has come in for a lot of criticism in that time and even in the last three games that he has missed there have been eight goals conceded. But will Francis be such a big influence when he returns? Well, he can be. Just having him on the pitch will breathe a bit of comfort into some that the team is as strong, as it can be at the back and that he is back for an important game which can put distance between AFCB and the bottom three.

Francis will be worked harder than most though in these coming days. He has to get back up to speed quickly for this game and will want to play positively on his return. Bournemouth need some positive energy at the moment and seeing a player return tends to add that. Whether the mistakes at the back can be reduced though is down to how the players react on the day. I thought Watford were good at putting the press on Bournemouth and the Hornet's worked hard at that as they have seen in previous games that it brings rewards against the Cherries, like when Ighalo grabbed an easy goal at Dean Court last season.

Looking back at the games, when Francis has been suspended though, you can say there has been slack defending at Hull and Millwall and those away performances to some extent have continued to have transmitted nervy play at the back at home games. But the Cherries have to draw a line under that at some point and look to find their way to a clean sheet - the last one was back on 31 December against Swansea City.

Do disgruntled Cherries perform better?

There was more of a spark to AFCB's game having gone a goal down to Watford in a first half that could largely be forgotten after the Hornets had taken the lead. Some of that spark though was engineered perhaps by a few of the players bickering with each other on the pitch, which is seldom seen by this side. There isn't always a lot of shouting going on and without that commanding personality to galvanise everyone, it can look divisive when a player not usually talkative on the pitch starts to have a go at someone else who has just given the ball away.

Unhappy Cherries is not always a bad thing if it gets them playing better.
Jack Wilshere said it was good to get such matters out in the open and that it shows the players care when things are not going right. In a way I think the way it started against Watford was an annoyance at how things were reoccurring, like they had against Hull City - a good start, then a falling away. AFCB did not want the game to run away from them again and at half time there must have been a good deal of talking to come out the way they did for the second half.

I was wondering at half time what players like Harry Arter and Simon Francis might be thinking from the sidelines. I see these two players as the big influential players, when the side needs to grab hold of a game which has escaped their grasp, and neither of them were on the pitch against Watford. So it needed the other players to stand up and get back into the game which they did with some fine play from Adam Smith on the right wing and Josh King's punishing finish. From there on it felt like AFCB were in the game and had left behind all the sloppy passing from the first 45 minutes. They had found that stimulus to play better and quicker. It needed something to pull the Cherries out of their torpor and it was pleasing that when Watford went ahead again that the side didn't fold but gained strength from conceding by launching even more attacks. 

The sideways passing is something that has entered AFCB's game as they have come up against better defences, but they are more effective when they attack teams with more forward passing. The team shouldn't need to get disgruntled though before they lock into that forward-passing game and that all comes with belief in themselves that they have the control and ability to unlock defences no matter what the score is at the time.  

Transfer news: Aston Villa and Birmingham are keen on Max Gradel. AFCB have been checking the form of the Southampton manager's son Paulin Puel, says the Echo.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Gradel has to get his head down at AFCB

Max Gradel has been sent back to the Cherries a bit earlier than he might have hoped. Africa Cup of Nation's defeat for Cote d'Ivorie to Morocco by 1-0 spelt the end of Max's tournament and his team's defence of the title, so he is now said to be expected to be available for next week's AFCB Premier League game against Crystal Palace.

It might seem a big blow to Max that he hasn't played more international football. Even as Cote d'Ivorie went out, he only played for six minutes of normal time against Morocco in what would turn out to be his side's final tournament match, coming on for Frank Kessie as the champions chased the game. 
Max has hardly played for AFCB this season.
Now Max has to be fully focused on his AFCB role. He may be a talking point for other clubs, but it is more likely to be in the summer window when his future is under a lot of discussion. Eddie Howe has said that he will be speaking to Max about his future and I imagine the report may read something like 'could do better'. To be fair to Max though, he hasn't had a run of games to impress the manager. He only excited for a brief moment for me against Morecambe, in the early season League Cup match AFCB played. He has only made five appearances this season for AFCB and all have been as sub.  

While many fans won't have had Max as their first choice regular starter this season, on the left side, I did expect him to be forcing his way straight into the team. Instead, Ryan Fraser has jumped ahead of him and one or two others. If Ryan can do that it is going to be a question in Eddie Howe's mind of whether Max is a player that he should hold on to

It's down to Max really as to what he wants, but if it is to be more successful at the Cherries he has to up his game substantially. Eddie Howe knows exactly how good he can be, and so there is nowhere for Max to hide. He has more natural talent than many members of the squad, but if we don't see it, there's others who will stay ahead of him in the pecking order.

Sky TV makes Man Utd trip awkward for AFCB fans

I guess as fans were are not supposed to moan too much about fixtures being changed when Sky TV is paying huge amounts of money to the Premier League clubs to show games on live TV. What I can't get my head around though is how geography is never taken into account. Fans on the south coast who are working on Friday 3 March now have to work out if they want to make a journey up north in the evening and stay over or start out at the crack of dawn on the official club coaches to make the 12.30pm kick off time at Old Trafford on Saturday 4 March.
Old Trafford will see a 12.30pm kick off for the Cherries visit.
As a TV spectacle I can see that this game would be attractive to a TV audience with Man Utd trying to close in on a top four finish, but let's face it Man Utd are on TV just about every week and to make it the early game is going to be hard on travelling fans. In some ways I suppose the cameras want to make the most of this game as it gives them the opportunity to hark back on about last season and the security issues. But I hope the journalists are prepared for some AFCB fans who are still angry about the whole episode and lack of compensation.

I think football fans hold grudges for long times and it kind of builds up the rivalry. While the fans might find the trip to Old Trafford less of a great day out now after last year's events, I am sure there will be a good many Cherries who will have pencilled in this fixture very early on when the schedules came out. 

I also wonder how Swansea fans are feeling about a late 5.30pm kick off for their match against the Cherries on 18th March. At least they have plenty of time to get to the ground and they'll probably stay over to make a weekend of it now.

Premier Talk: Hull City - genius or bonkers?

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Should Josh King be scoring more often?

AFCB's strikers are finding the goals pretty slow to mount up this season. In all the side has scored 32 goals and three clubs in the league that are positioned higher have scored fewer goals and it's arguable that the top teams have strikers that regularly get on the score sheet, so are AFCB's strikers good enough at this level?
Josh is on the mark again but can he keep the goal scoring going?
Josh King scored his fourth goal of the season last Saturday against Watford. It was a simple enough goal - a tap in from four yards with an open goal in front of him. Such situations don't come along for Josh in every game, and perhaps that is something that the side needs to work on some more, as Josh is competent at competing moves when the ball is passed in low from the wings.

The previous matches where Josh has scored were against Swansea City away (88th minute), Watford away (62nd minute) and Crystal Palace away (11th minute), so we can see that Josh has only now just scored his first goal in a home game this season and early goals in games he rarely gets as he has made 21 appearances, but five of those have been from the subs bench.  I'd also argue that Josh has often been pushed out on the wings rather than occupy one of the main striking roles through the middle and yet he is probably on course to equal or may be break his goal tally of six from last season which was the best of any AFCB player.

Whether any of the Bournemouth strikers can get into double figures this season could be something that the bookies would give you good odds on. The telling stat is that none of the Bournemouth players has hit a hat-trick, to my knowledge, since Callum Wilson did it in his match at West Ham last season. Josh is also a payer that does a lot of running work for the team and is probably a striker who cold learn to be a bit more selfish at times.

The good thing about the last match against Watford though is that two of AFCB's strikers added to their goal count, and that is what they are in the side to do in the main. 

Are AFCB about to join the race to sign Everton defender?

Ronald Koeman has been honest in saying that he does not know whether Phil Jagielka will leave Everton in this window, but it is clear that the England central defender is not getting game time at the Toffees and Sunderland have been linked with him. But David Moyes has just signed another former Everton player that he has worked with before - Joleon Lescott. Does that mean that Jagielka is still wanting a move and could AFCB be in the running now?
Phil Jagielka at AFCB for the FA Cup last season.
Eddie Howe does not give anything away in his transfer dealing, but I suspect that a goalkeeper is not the only player that he is trying to get in during this window. The defensive cover is lighter than it was when Nathan Aké was at the club and experience in the back four looks thin when Simon Francis had to miss a few games. Marc Wilson should really be the player that Howe has to step in when the back four needs that game knowledge, yet I'm wondering if Wilson is really the player that AFCB thought they were getting when he signed from Stoke City. He's hardy played for AFCB and I know some of that is down to injury.

Whether Howe would decide to go with starting a new centre-back instead of Steve Cook and Simon Francis is probably one step too far. If Phil Jagielka came to Bournemouth he may find that he can't simply jump straight into the team. It is that kind of problem that will make it hard for AFCB to sign any centre-back in this window, but you can't guarantee a player games before he signs on the dotted line.


So if the club does not bring in a centre-back now would it be a disaster? I don't necessarily think it would be a massive blow, but the side would benefit from a signing of two and the centre-back position is an area where fans can see that a very good defender would perhaps give the side a much better chance of finishing in the top half. Whether it is Jagielka or not, I am hopeful of a couple of signings before the window shuts.

Meanwhile, Southend midfielder Jack Bridge is training with the Cherries, according to the Echo. Sam Surridge and Matt Worthington have also signed extended contracts at AFCB. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Does deeper Wilshere role work best for AFCB?

The interview with Jack Wilshere on BBC Radio Solent after the Watford game was quite revealing in that Jack said to Kris Temple that he wanted to play in the deeper midfield role, or at least hat is where he feels he can influence games more. Playing strikers in from a deeper position and switching play from half way is perhaps a sign of how the game has evolved and that withdrawing yourself to see the bigger picture of movement up ahead is where talented players like Wilshere really see more and can hurt teams more than being right up by the main striker.
Jack is yet to find his scoring boots for AFCB.
Against Watford, I had Jack well ahead on the score card in his performance than his team-mates with the exception of Ryan Fraser, who also played very well. But Jack almost has to play that bit better for him to be recognised as putting in a good performance, as his average standard is already above what most players can achieve. Even Jack though knows that his ability to score goals is not as frequent as it might be, and that others can perhaps score the goals, if he can find them in space. It perhaps takes some pressure off him in not having to worry about how many goals he can get himself, but I don't mind that if he is busy creating for others.


There is a growing need for him though to get that first AFCB goal, just to free him from the obvious line of - well, if he is playing so well every week, where are the goals? It is probably bad luck that has stopped him from scoring and I can't say that he doesn't shoot when in good positions to score. He tends to find the woodwork or inspired keepers though, and if it is frustrating him then I see why Eddie Howe has not minded letting him play a bit deeper while Harry Arter has a short rest.

It may be that Howe pushed Jack further forward again against Crystal Palace if Harry Arter is training again and able to play. But the problem with players like Jack is that you can play him almost anywhere and he'll do a good job for you. 

Is Hyndman set to be a star at Rangers?

I couldn't help but look at all the tweeted comments about Emerson Hyndman's Rangers debut against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup fourth round. While Emerson did not start he came on in the 73rd minute, replacing Jason Holt, and he did not disappoint by all reckoning. In fact, most tweets announced that he needed to start the next match.

Emerson has made a good start at Ibrox.
Emerson will have found it a massive moment to come on the pitch at Rangers when the side had just gone a goal down. But he rose to the occasion and played a big part in Ranger's recovery in making an assist for Kenny Miller's late winner as Rangers came from behind. The report for Eddie Howe will no doubt be favourable and to be fair there were signs that Emerson was one of AFCB's better players when the Cherries went out of the FA Cup at Millwall.

For AFCB fans it is kind of hard to see Emerson not playing in front of them and having to track his progress across the boarder. Yet, I have a feeling that a few of us will start taking note of when Rangers are playing now if we weren't before. Like Nathan Aké, though there is a possibility that by doing very well he will attract attention. In this case though, AFCB are in the box seat and will be monitoring Emerson's performances match by match. I am sure that Ryan Fraser will have been able to tell Emerson a bit about the Scottish Premiership, but it will be quite a different world up there in front of crowds that dwarf what we get on the south coast. 


If Emerson becomes a big draw at Rangers, he could well find himself on the fast track into Eddie Howe's plans for next season. While some would consider the Scottish Premiership on a par with the Championship down here, I think it is a bit more pressurised when you are running out in a Rangers shirt so Emerson has not picked an easy team to play for, but I'm pleased for him that he has made a good start. Rangers' next match is against the same opponents, Motherwell but this time in the league and an away match.

Meanwhile, it looks like AFCB have an offer in for Amir Begovic that Chelsea will accept if they can find a replacement keeper. Former Cherry Josh Wakefield has made a move and is now at Poole Town.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Corner defending has to improve

Watford hardly had much chance to make Artur Boruc's shirt dirty last weekend from open play. However, it was a different story when it came to corners and having to defend them. Watford one headers for fun and the Cherries were not combative enough to win the first or second balls when they were sent into the box.
Guarding the goal is the name of the game.
Watford's first goal was a comedy of errors really from AFCB's point of view as the preceding minutes before the corner were a catalogue of passing errors that were started off by Artur Boruc and included several AFCB players misdirecting their passes. When the corner did come in there were three headers that Watford won to put them a goal up and that's not good enough for a Premier League defence, despite the quality of the Hornet's delivery. 

What is still needed is more talking at the back. Tyrone Mings has that sense that he needs to chat and demand things of players around him, but he has to play well himself for several games before he really might come across with some authority in the side. With Francis expected to come back in the next match it is likely we will see much of him for a little while now.

Whether a new goalkeeper would also add determination and a sense of calm to the back four is something that the club is certainly considering. Watford's second headed goal would put question marks over his continued stay in goal for next season, if he does want to extend his contract for another year. I believe Artur has been tremendous in goal for the Cherries and while he has some weaknesses and does not go out of his way to get wrapped up with the fans, you can tell he cares about his performances and has pulled out some magnificent saves at times this season. His decisions are always harder than any other position on the pitch as he never gets a second chance when a  cross comes in or a man is through on goal. 

The team have several days though before the Palace game tow work on these things and with Christian Benteke and Scott Dann likely to be Sam Allardyce's main threats on Bournemouth's goal next week, AFCB have every reason to get this part of their game better organised.

A new found composure to Benik's finishing?

Many might have been in two minds over whether Benik should have gone to the African Cup of Nations to represent DR Congo. While he has good cameo performances for the Cherries of late, he might have had a better chance of getting a run of games in his national side that could have got him firing in the goals ready for his return. But Benik loves his training at AFCB, and he says he wants to make the most of his first full season in the Premier League.
Benik hopes he made the right choice to ignore
calls for him to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.
I find that a really welcoming attitude as when players are not getting regular starts it is easy for them to hop on the first bus out of town, if they have international friendlies let alone a cup competition that only comes around every two years. But Benik never seems to get down when he isn't picked and just gets to work in the hope that he can contribute something to the side when his time comes. Against Watford he had to wait until the 74th minute to come on, and yet he scored in the 82nd minute. There was some fortune in that Christian Kabasele had gone down injured, but Benik himself said that he took his chance with more composure than he had been able to in previous games.

Benik does have a habit of snatching at his chances I feel. He gets into good scoring positions okay but the final shot is often scuffed or does not make the keeper need to make a save. He has to get better at that and he seems to know it. Instinctive strikers will shoot on sight, but I see Benik as a striker who could improve his goal record just be taking that extra moment to ensure he is hitting the target. 

How many minutes Benik should get is something that I think Howe has been grappling with for some time. A listener and AFCB fan on BBC Radio Solent commented - 'why doesn't Howe ever play Afobe with King up front?' Kris Temple replied that perhaps it was that Howe sees King and Afobe as more physical players than Callum Wilson and more like-for-like. I can understand that point of view, but King did come on in the Swansea game to join up with Afobe, and I think Howe has tried different pairings, but just not that frequently as he rarely plays two up front as a pair these days - the Watford game was unusual for this.

Premier Talk - Bench warming for Aké

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Afobe to the rescue - AFCB 2 v 2 Watford

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 2 Watford
21 January 2017
Attendance: 11,123
AFCB prepare to play Watford.
AFCB had to comeback twice against Watford at home to earn a draw in a match that again saw them struggle to find their feet at times. The first half seemed to be building well for the Cherries when Britos flicked on a corner at the near post and Kabasele headed in on 24 minutes. From that moment the Cherries lost momentum and confidence and started to find it hard to get much passing going at all. A second half comeback was required and a right wing move by Adam Smith that saw him nutmeg Britos, before delivering a low cross that Josh King simply tapped home to equal the scores, just two minutes into the second half. But again Watford replied with a near post header from Troy Deeney that Artur Boruc couldn't keep out, having tried to punch the corner ball away. It was left to Benik Afobe to save the day as a super sub, and he leapt on to Andrew Surman's great pass six minutes from time to earn a welcome point for Eddie Howe's side at Dean Court.
Here come the teams.
There were a couple of changes to the starting line up as Benik Afobe was moved to the bench along with Harry Arter who had not done much training in the week. Eddie wanted height in the team and to play two up front so Callum Wilson and Josh King got the starts as Jack Wilshere adopted a deeper role next to Andrew Surman.

Watford just made one change with Tom Cleverley coming in for Behrami in their midfield.
Watford are set to go.
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The Cherries did their best to get a quick start with a Junior Stanislas won corner in the first minute. More eyes were on Troy Deeney though, as he lost his boot and took a minute to get it back on before ribbing Adam Smith and shooting wide at the other end.

The Cherries were looking a shade unsettled with Ryan Fraser putting the ball skyward in his own box, but the clearance was eventually made. Watford were pressing high and while Okaka had Tyrone Mings by the short he almost robbed him of the ball at the back, although unfairly.

Adam Smith might have got a shot off when Junior Stanislas gave him a good way in on the right, but Adam chose the wrong option, despite the crowd yelling at him to shoot. A second Bournemouth corner saw Callum Wilson head wide.

While Prödl had a high shot into the stands, it was AFCB pushing forward. With Jack Wilshere the Cherries almost found a way through, with his delicate chip that Ryan Fraser headed on and it almost looped over Gomes until he scrambled back to tip it over for another corner.

Callum Wilson was also seeing the ball in the box, fed again by the ever present Wilshere, but he couldn't stay on his feet just when it mattered. Gomes was tested though moments later when Wilshere let loose and Gomes parried the shot away on 20 minutes.

AFCB were again to create their own problems though. A poorly kick by Boruc was intercepted by Tom Cleverley and while Daniels seemed to rescue the situation at first, Fraser made a bad pass and Okaka soon had Mings running backwards towards the byline and he gave away a corner. A simple head on by Britos came at just the right height for Kabasele and he headed from six yards out to give Watford the lead. Two yellow flares suddenly went off in front of the Watford stand, which will no doubt be in Lee Mason's match report as the Watford fans celebrated their early lead.

The Cherries found it hard to find that early penetration though as they tried to recover. Sloppy passing, offsides from Wilson and Wilshere shooting over just added to the frustration that this wasn't looking like a great day for AFCB. 

Tom Cleverley almost made things worse when he shot from the right just wide of Boruc's right post. Steve Cook was getting annoyed that he couldn't find anyone to pass to going forward. Steve Cook and Wilshere even had words later when the ball was around the Cherries' box as they were having so much difficulty in playing out from the back. Watford's press was working well.

Bournemouth did come close to scoring though when Watford lost the ball and Stanislas hit a deflected shot that looped off a defender, and had Gomes again having to tip a shot over. AFCB remained 0-1 down at half time.
It's not going well at half time.
Benik Afobe warms up before having the last word as sub.
Second Half
It was not long before the Cherries dismissed what had gone in the first 45 minutes. Adam Smith's swift nutmeg on Britos had the fans laughing, but even better was to come when he crossed and at the far post Josh King had a simple tap in to level the scores on 47 minutes. Now were we going to see the real Bournemouth? You bet.

The ball was move with more pace and ferocity as the Cherries seemed to have finally arrived in the match. Ryan Fraser was making things tricky for Watford on the right and was getting crosses in now.

Holebas tried is luck though from 25-yards and forced a good save from Boruc - it wasn't quite one way traffic.

On the break though it was Wilshere that was getting more of the ball now. He played a good ball into Fraser who stepped into the box and pulled a wonderful save out of Gomes, low to his left. AFCB were really looking to grab the lead with Wilson chasing the ball all the way back to Gomes in the hope of a mistake.

A break in play saw Janmaat replace Okaka on 62 minutes, and the break in concentration worked well for the Hornets. A corner ball was not met by Adam Smith, Andrew Surman or Boruc, who tried to punch, but Troy Deeney did get something on the ball and it nestled in AFCB's net to make it 1-2 against the run of play.

AFCB were up against it here. Lee Mason was watching Watford trying to prevent Jack Wilshere from making a swift break and Holebas was yellow carded for his blatant pull back on the half way line. 

A wayward shot from King was then the signal for Howe to sub Josh for Ibe, while Afobe came on for Junior Stanislas. Anything to put pressure on Watford was the task now. 

Kabul tried to waste time by kicking the ball away after Watford had won a goal kick and was duly yellow carded by Lee Mason. Marc Pugh was then brought on with nine minutes to go to replace the fantastic Ryan Fraser, who had run his socks off. 

It had to be soon if AFCB were to rescue something from this and hopes rose when Surman slotted a ball through to Afobe on the run as Kabalese went down. Benik still had much to do in bursting on into the box and firing a low shot to the far corner, but he did it superbly, beating Gomes for pace to level the scores at 2-2 in the 82nd minute.

Watford made a couple of more subs with Cathcart replacing Kabalese, who had pulled up injured when Surman had made his assist for Afobe's equaliser, and Ighalo came on for Doucouré with just a couple of minutes to go. But it was Howe that had got his subs right.

Steve Cook picked up a yellow card on 90 minutes for a deliberate handball as he tried to redirect a corner towards goal that was subsequently put in the net by Daniels, but it was never going to count.

Callum Wilson had just one last low header that slipped the wrong side of the post from an AFCB point of view before the whistle went after four minutes of added time.
Afobe looks on at the Watford fans.
Time's up.

This was a tough day at the office for the Cherries. They escaped a defeat and, but for Gomes, could even have won the game. But there are still problems to solve - two goals against from set-plays, misdirected passes all over the side, dallying when playing out from the back and struggling to find direction and leadership to really galvanise the team when they are up against it on the pitch. Whatever Eddie said at half time, it certainly worked. The players needed that leadership and to be told they had it in them to get a result against a Watford side that were not offering a great deal of creative threat. Most of their fortune was coming from AFCB mistakes and yet for the side to turnaround, and come back twice, tells me things are okay, the players are fighting for each other. This was a point gained for sure and there's plenty to work on for the next game.

A point gained.
Boruc, A Smith, S Cook, Mings, Daniels, Surman, Wilshere, Stanislas (Afobe 74),
King (Ibe 74), Fraser (Pugh 81), C Wilson

Federici, B Smith, Gosling, Pugh, Arter, Afobe, Ibe

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 5, A Smith 6, S Cook 6, Mings 6, Daniels 6, Surman 6, Wilshere 8, Stanislas 6
(Afobe 7), King 7 (Ibe 6), Fraser 8 (Pugh 6), C Wilson 6

Ref Watch: Lee Mason 8/10 - I enjoyed the way he did his job. Even when he fell over in the second half and laughed at himself. He made sensible bookings, too.

Gomes, Kaboul, Prödl, Britos, Kabasele (Cathcart 85), Capoue, Doucouré (Ighalo 88), Holebas, Cleverley, Okaka (Janmaat), Deeney

Watford Subs
Pantilimon, Cathcart, Zuñiga, Sinclair, Janmaat, Ighalo, Mason