Friday, 31 March 2017

Rival Lines: "We're weaker without Gabbiadiani," says George Weah's Cousin

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Southampton v AFCB
Blogger Interview: George Wear's Cousin
Twitter: @gwcdotcom

Playing Southampton is always a game that I find a bit odd. I like to think of it as a derby even if we haven't had many and winning at St Mary's for any team is a good result. But Chris at George Weah's Cousin might have a few things to say on why the Saints will be ready to dash AFCB's hopes come Saturday afternoon. Let's see what he thinks.

CC: What do you make of Southampton's season overall when considering the European games, League Cup final appearance and the current position in the Premier League?

GWC: It's certainly been a 'different' season. League form has been inconsistent, yet monumental trips to the San Siro and Wembley have made it memorable.

I think Claude Puel made some mistakes with the amount of rotation he did when we had a plethora of fixtures early on, and perhaps his original formation was flawed. Of late the rotation has been a lot less and he has reverted to 4-2-3-1 which has allowed players to come out of their shell. He is learning the Premier League, I think people forget that and some criticism of him has been unfair. He seems to be  rectifying some early mistakes.

CC: Claude Puel was within an inch of probably getting legendary status like Lawrie McMenemy had he beaten Man Utd at Wembley in March, but do you see much progression in the way the team is playing than how it was under Ronald Koeman?

GWC: Wembley was as fantastic as it was frustrating. We should have won that game, and Puel and the team came away from it with so much credit. I think he is a more hands on manager than Koeman, especially when it comes to training etc. He is much more prepared to use the club's youth players too when he needs them. Where Koeman opted to loan in the distinctly average Elia and Djuricic from abroad, Puel was happy to use Sims/Hesketh/McQueen and I can tell you now the latter options were much more impressive.

Don't get me wrong, we lost a very good manager in Koeman, but personally I think Puel is a good replacement. I get the feeling he has more long term interests.


CC: Southampton have only let in 36 goals this season, which is commendable but has this meant less attacking football with only 33 goals scored in the Premier League?

GWC: We've not quite managed to get the balance right. We either seem to be great at defending or attacking but never both. This has got elements of bad luck to it though. Charlie Austin was providing the goals and then got injured, while defensively were fine until van Dijk was assaulted by Jamie Vardy [Ed- a bit strong 'assaulted' - well Vardy certainly stood on his ankle, not sure of any intent]. We've not played with a full strength team yet!

CC: Manolo Gabbiadini has been in my mind the bargain of the season, but are Southampton much weaker without him?

GWC: In a word yes. The impetus completely changed when he arrived. He is a 'proper' striker. The runs he makes have caused havoc in defences and the likes of Tadic and Redmond have been able to pick him out. He is always looking to score, and that greediness is something our other forwards seem to lack.

CC: Were you disappointed with the way the José Fonte departure came about?

GWC: Yes I was. There are plenty of rumours about what was going on behind the scenes and I certainly feel he has tainted his legacy as a Saint. He was a fantastic servant though and it is difficult to wish any ill towards him. He won the Euros and it changed him. I'm not sure the 'United' he ended up at was the planned destination though.

CC: Do you think Nathan Redman now needs to find consistency to become not only a Southampton but England regular?

GWC:  I do. I was very keen for us to sign him as I had seen his potential at Norwich and Birmingham but it's fair to say he had a slow start. With the formation change of late though he has flourished. I think Puel saw him as a striker but has realised he is a winger/attacking midfielder. He's got the talent and the attitude to go far.

CC: What would you say has been Southampton's best result of the season?

GWC: Beating Liverpool 1-0 home and away in the EFL cup semi finals. We were much better than them and I don't think you'd find a scouser who would argue that. We beat them tactically, technically and comprehensively.

CC: It could be a bit of a southern Premier League next year, if Palace and Bournemouth avoid relegation and Brighton and Reading are promoted. Do you see the lack of derby games for Southampton as a help, or a hinderance when there are so many Premier League clubs with big rivalries?

GWC:  I see it as a help. Derby games are great, but unpredictable so they present an opportunity to lose points against the grain. In League One and the Championship the rivalry with Brighton was a lot fiercer than it ever has been with you, so it will be interesting to see if that is revisited. I don't count Reading.

CC: Were you worried at all at the end of January when Swansea City beat the Saints that you could be dragged into the relegation battle?

GWC:  Arrogantly, no. We've been inconsistent but we are a top 10 squad. There are some really poor sides in the bottom half (I'm not sure there has ever been worse).

CC: Jay Rodriguez destroyed the Cherries last time the teams met in December, so would you expect him to get the vote to start over Shane Long or Charlie Austin if Gabbiadini remains injured?

GWC:  I think Long will start, mainly because he has more football of late. It's a big blow to us if Gabbiadini hasn't recovered [Ed- Puel confirmed yesterday that Gabbiadni was out for this game] but other players need to take their chance when they get the opportunity. Rodriguez was great in Bournemouth, but it's not a regular occurrence these days. It's a huge shame because he was fantastic before his big injury.

CC: What do you make of AFC Bournemouth's second season in the Premier League and have you been impressed by any of the Bournemouth players?

GWC:  I thought you'd go down this season, but you look comfortable again. On paper your squad looks poor but it's perhaps credit to Eddie Howe that you continue to surpass expectations (mine at least). I'm a big fan of Wilson and King.

CC: I'd better ask you for a score prediction? 

GWC: 2-1 if Gabbiadini plays. 1-1 if he doesn't. [Ed- Well, he doesn't]

CC: Thanks to Chris at George Weah's Cousin. I like the way Chris may have changed his opinion about AFCB in that the Cherries now look more like on of the comfortable teams that are likely to stay up. I still want to see a few more points though before I can say that with confidence. The inconsistent form of the Saints gives me sum hope that the Cherries might get something on Saturday but having had the international break form is virtually thrown out of the window. Southampton have found another manager that can get results though and get to a cup final. I still hope for the day when AFCB might grace Wembley in this century. Such memories of Wembley for Southampton fans will stay with them and it's good to see a good few Southern teams doing well this season.

Don't forget to check out the Rivals at George Weah's Cousin 

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' April 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: Josh King's on fire - your defence is terrified!

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

What's the next step for AFCB?

This season has tested the Cherries perhaps more than last season in many ways, but if the Cherries stay up there will have to be a reckoning of how they can achieve even more in the coming seasons. I start to wonder what fans would be happy with now that the club has been battling in the Premier League and whether the initial pride and joy of just being apart of this fabulous league has been satisfied, or if the club can really deliver more for its fans that dare to ask what is the next level?
AFCB need to get more of their players up to high international quality to climb the table.
For the moment that next step up is probably a strong mid-table finish between 8-12 in the table. But looking at it from another angle it would be starting to not see wins against the top eight sides as totally unexpected and I already see that wins that have come against teams like Everton, West Ham and Leicester are games that are pleasing to win, but not so shocking that we don't think they can't happen again. In short, AFCB are starting to belong amongst such company and if they can maintain that on the pitch I do believe the club is already getting towards taking that next step.
The outward view of the club by fans all across the world is certainly now of a club that is friendly and can hold its own against some of the teams that have graced the Premier League for a much larger time. Much of the way the club is perceived is by how well Eddie Howe carries himself and there are probably elements where other aspects of the club need to catch up with his high standards. I am sure we all want some things to be better around Dean Court and while the club looks to work with organisations like the Cherries Trust and Fan groups on a regular basis, some of our views and suggestions will be taken on board.

I don't just think that it is on the pitch that things matter though. We have heard about problems over availability of places for disabled supporters, failures to meet FA anti-doping rules and I know the points system for games is a solution for ticketing that will continue to upset many. But not even Man Utd and Arsenal are clubs that run smoothly and they have plasters to stick over things when they don't quite work out as expected, just like AFCB. Getting to the next level will come with challenges and disappointments and yet if fans and the club keep striving for better, I don't see too many barriers to seeing it happen and we all know that the stadium is the big obstacle on the horizon, so I'm hoping for some good news about that this summer now that the decision not to stay at Dean Court will have started minds working towards something more fitting for the next level.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Can AFCB take Jordan Ibe's game on over the summer?

If fans thought that Jordan Ibe's £15m signing would see him be the player to light up AFCB's season and take them to a new level, they might have underestimated what the competition for wingers is like at the club. Jordan has not managed to move his game on that much yet since his move, but I imagine that this summer he will be one of the players that Eddie Howe will want to do some of the most work with. 
Ibe still has to find a way of releasing more of his talent on the pitch.
Jordan can improve I am sure ,and he has looked better in my opinion when he has come on as a second half sub. He became kind of used to seeing 60 minutes in games before being pulled before Christmas, but of late the form of others have kept him out of the limelight. He is the kind of player that would frustrate me as a manger, as you can see how easily he finds it to be a couple of players in a row, but then he loses his decision-making at the vital moment, when he either needs to play someone in, get a cross over or drive a powerful shot that is on target. It is the final part of Jordan's game that has to be worked on, and I imagine Steve Fletcher might be the coach that can start giving Ibe the confidence to try a few new things to add to his game.


While Steve Fletcher is a number nine in the old fashioned sense of the word, we have already heard how he has helped the defenders work better at defending set pieces, and I bet he has a few masterclasses on striking the ball that would be a boost to Ibe's game. We know Ibe is quick with his feet and an energetic player, but making him get his head in the right place and to think quickly when in that last third of the pitch is what he needs to gain. Steve Fletcher was an instinct player who usually chose the right decision near goal and I'd like to see Ibe see if he can pick things up from such people at the club who have been through tough goalscoring times.

Far from being disappointed with Ibe though, I see a player who may well reinvent himself in the coming months, and he may well feel that with 12 months under his belt at Bournemouth that he is finally going to find it easier to express his 'A game' on the pitch.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Is Tyrone Mings potentially the best defender on AFCB's books?

Tyrone has time on his side.
The enforced suspension of Tyrone Mings got me thinking about what we have seen this season of the defender and how good he just might become. In the early games he had that started with the FA Cup defeat to Millwall, he seemed a long way short of where he would need to be to really have an impact on the position of central defender in this team, but in just a few games we saw him not only get his tackles in and position himself better, he really started to command the defence and not too unlike Nathan Aké had done earlier in the season.

It may be premature to see Tyrone as the best defender at the club, but from what I have seen I would not be surprised if he does achieve that in the coming seasons. He was absolutely superb at Old Trafford and showed that he could handle a world-class attacker in Ibahimovic, and, leaving out the infamous foot on head incident, I liked the way that AFCB had a player that was prepared to battle to stop such a player have it all his own way.

You also notice with Tyrone that he talks to players when he is on the pitch. He is going to become a leader and will speak up if things are not being carried out to plan. While he has the highest price-tag of all the defenders at the club, he has not just slipped into the first 11. It has taken him some time having had a bad injury last season and a change of position. Eddie Howe clearly sees him as a versatile player when he was bought, but Tyrone now seems to like playing in central defence and it could be quite a battle come the last few matches as to who starts there and going into next season.

The other feature that I have enjoyed about Tyrone's game is his calmness when in possession. He really does not get overly stressed when being pressed and seems to enjoy the responsibility. I'd like to see the Cherries also explore the option of playing three at the back a bit more often, as I see Mings, Cook and Francis very able at playing that system. Eddie will have to decide who to leave out at times when he just plays two central defenders, but why not play all three in some games? Eddie also still has the option of Baily Cargill to come in and in future years, Baily and Tyrone could be the pick of AFCB's defenders as potentially they are the two that have the years ahead of them to progress the most.

Monday, 27 March 2017

How important is it for Lewis Cook to get game time now?

Injury and the use of Jack Wilshere this season has perhaps mean tat we have not seen as much of Lewis Cook as we might have. Lewis was great in pre-season last summer and it was a bit of a shock that he did not get a good run in the team and came back from an England U21 international with an ankle injury. Since then, it has been a real struggle for him to get up to the level that would see him included in match day squads, but we saw him again as an unused sub for the Swansea City game and the likelihood is that we may just see him get some time playing before the end of the season.
Lewis Cook has been rarely seen at Dean Court.
That possibility may depend largely on whether there are injuries or suspensions to other central midfielders, but when Surman, Arter and Wilshere start games there is a good chance that both Gosling and Lewis Cook would find a place on the bench. Finding time for Lewis though I think is crucial for him now. He has missed most of the season and he is not going to be taking his game on if he does not get some time now. It is all the more important if you consider what AFCB may have in terms of central midfielders next season. Will Emerson Hyndman be pushing for a regular place? Will Jack Wilshere no longer be at the club and does Lewis Cook have to get ahead of Dan Gosling?


The difficulty I see or Lewis is that he has not yet been given the chance to build a partnership with any other midfield player in the centre of the park. Would he be best playing with Arter or Surman or could he even be filling the place where Jack Wilshere has been involved this season? Lewis would need to be played in a few of games to really see what he can do in the Premier League and I'm like many who would not mind him being given a game or two if there is a chance to do this.

Eddie usually plays safe in picking his team and is perhaps now going to try and keep the two up front option going for a while, and with Jack Wilshere not sneaking into the team at the moment, this makes it hard for Lewis to even do some stretches on the touchline, let alone get on the pitch. 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

What does the team's change of fortunes say about the Cherries?

The draw against Man Utd has revitalised the team and the treatment of Tyrone Mings by the FA has only pulled the squad closer together. There is a great belief that the Cherries can climb higher in the league and it tells me that the lads are enjoying their football and will probably be disappointed in some ways when the season comes to a close, even if they will look forward to a few weeks off.
Eddie Howe has found the solutions to pull AFCB out of its dip.
Being in the Premier League is all about improvement. Eddie Howe gave a great interview on BBC's Football Focus last weekend that explained how much he sees his job as getting improvements in every aspect of the club. So when the lows come and the wins seem a million miles away, I look at Eddie and try to work out how he is going to turn things around. He admitted that he sees his job as a task of finding solutions, whether in training or how he approaches a subject with the players and being brave and confident in what he is doing I believe rubs off on his players.


The fans might have been panicking a little, when the points had dried up in January and February, but it is clear that Eddie turned this around in his mind as a chance to find some new ways of getting better performances from his players. He has had to switch and mix and match when it has come to his centre-backs, and I think this is a major reason for why the team suffered such a tough period at the start of 2017. Having a regular starting 11 makes all the difference. Like Leicester City last season, they hardly had to use more than about 15 players all season. If players keep injury-free and out of suspension, it is a good basis for having a good season.

Now, AFCB's fortunes look much more rosy. But they are still the same squad, it is just that the balance and the rhythm of the team has hit a new and higher level which is bringing results again. I do believe AFCB also have a very honest set of players who can operate at levels that are as high as any of the teams in the Premier league on their day, and it is trying to keep these peak periods going for longer that Howe will have to try and get to grips with in future seasons - future seasons that we hope are in the Premier League.  

In other news - Emerson Hyndman has been nominated as Rangers' young player of the season just two-months after joining them on loan from AFCB.

Eddie Howe is among the six contenders for Manager of the Month - vote here!

Josh King and Artur Boruc are also in contention for Player of the Month - vote here!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Wilshere's period on the bench will benefit him and AFCB

There were probably a few surprised glances to see Jack Wilshere kept on the bench for the third game in a row last weekend. Rio Ferdinand for one was quick to say, Jack didn't come to Bournemouth just to sit on the bench, but the strength of the Cherries squad does not give Jack an automatic place when he himself is recovering from an ankle knock, and Eddie Howe is mindful that Jack has to be more careful than most when he needs to work his way back to full match fitness.

Jack's not an automatic starter, especially when he has been carrying an injury.
I am beginning to like some of the comments that Jack has been making about his fondness for the team at AFCB and his continued enjoyment of Dean Court and the opportunity he has been given. Jack certainly has not been outwardly moaning or saying anything about his absence from the starting line ups, and he would find it hard to argue about in in any case with the Cherries taking seven points out of their last nine available points. 

I do see that Jack has become very good for the team in coming on late in the second half when both West Ham and Swansea were pushing the Cherries back and the side was coming under pressure. He was a great release valve if you like, taking the ball back up the pitch and importantly, keeping hold of possession. That is his experience and talent being used to benefit the side, and while Jack might hope to play more minutes, when it comes to getting the best out of the team we have to remember that some of the other players have been together for a long time now. It's hard for Jack to pick up  everything that Eddie Howe wants him to do immediately, and I think there is a good balance to the side at the moment and the opposition is made to think twice when they see Jack coming on late on in a game for Bournemouth. 
The other point is that Jack will be eager to do his utmost to get back into the side and we have seen him raise his game in the last few sub appearances. At some point, I'm sure Eddie will give him another start, but the standards that are being set by Wilshere's team-mates is very high at the moment and the King-Afobe partnership is working well, so there should be no hurry to change things at this point.

At least with no England call up Jack can spend a bit more time with the Bournemouth squad and the more he likes being with his team-mates, the better I'm sure he will play with the Cherries.

Eddie Howe is among the six contenders for Manager of the Month - vote here!
Josh King and Artur Boruc are also in contention for Player of the Month - vote here!

Friday, 24 March 2017

How high can the Cherries finish?

The test now for the Cherries is to finish as high as they can to gain funds for development of the squad and facilities at the club. If we look back to last season and see where the team was as we came round to the first match in April, the Cherries had already played 32 games and were considered safe with 38 points, but this season the matches are slightly behind with 29 games played. AFCB might wish to beat last season's total of 42 points, but is it realistic for the Cherries to gain another 10 points?
The Cherries still need a few more points.
Well if AFCB stay on their current course of gaining an average of about a point per game they will just scrape about 10 points to give them a total of 43 points! Would that be considered  good value for what was spent last summer? Some would say it is hardly progress but more like stagnation, and yet I think the second season was always going to be more difficult as teams would know much more about how Eddie Howe[s team likes to attack. Of course the Cherries have not got the points they need yet and any forecast of where the Cherries might finish is just that. However, the total is unlikely to be much different from last season and yet I'd expect most fans to accept that as being acceptable, even if not as good as we might all like.
Broom Hill Garden Buildings

The Premier league finances though are given out to final position places and whether a low 40s point score will get the Cherries a better finish than the 16th place of last season is quite possible. At the moment they sit in 11th with only Leicester and Watford with a game in hand that could see them overtake the Cherries. So with five points ahead of 16th placed Crystal Palace, the Cherries go into their last batch of fixtures knowing that they can reach some of their pre-season targets. At this stage of the campaign I'd say that is pretty good that they are still in sight of those aims.

The upcoming fixtures may be the hardest run of games that the Cherries have had and yet it is the lower positioned clubs that have been harder for the Cherries to get points from and AFCB will need a good run in April if they are to beat expectations and end the season in top half - that would be something worth celebrating in my view.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Missing Arter did not slow Cherries progress

One look at the team sheet last Saturday might have had a few fans fearing that AFCB were going to be stretched when the ever energetic Harry Arter was missing from the list. Still, there was no reason to get too stressed though as AFCB had an able and ready-made midfielder to do an excellent job and I'm among those who believe Dan Gosling should get more appearances than he does.
It's been good to Dan Gosling get some games. 
The job Gosling does often goes fairly unrecognised any yet he hardly ever disappoints. It was a compliment to how well he played that Arter was nit missed. Dan stuck his foot in to win challenges and was excellent in his passing. It showed a lot of what he was thinking as well when he saw a good shot from distance saved by Fabianski. He was gutted not to have scored and I tend to feel that he almost thinks he has to score to keep his place in the side.

While Edie Howe likes to play Surman and Arter when he can, there can't be much to choose between the three players. Eddie likes to play a system that sees Surman start moves off more often than not while Arter is the greyhound who chases down everything. But what we have with Gosling is an intelligent player that finds pockets of space and is usually available to take a pass. He reads the game very well and while he might not appear to dominate a game, he does influence the way others work around him and I thought some of the play with Adam Smith and Ryan Fraser was much more powerful when Dan also got involved.
In many ways, AFCB are really lucky to have such a talent to draw upon. He could fit into many Premier League sides and when you look at his stats it comes as a bit of a surprise that he has played in 23 games this season, 12 of which have been sub appearances. Last season it was 34 appearances and only six as sub. So I guess I might be on the right lines that Gosling has been used more sparingly than he might have this season.

In other news, I was sad that Ryan Fraser had a knee injury and did not make his full international debut for Scotland yesterday, but he has plenty of time to make his mark.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bournemouth's back four stood up to the Swansea challenge

There was no place to hide for Bournemouth's back four against a Swansea City side looking to halt their slide back towards the relegation zone. Paul Clement was satisfied that the dead leg that Llorente had picked up against Hull City was fine to play on and Steve Cook and Simon Francis immediately knew when they looked at the team sheet that this would be a tough afternoon for them.

The Cherries find some defensive qualities.
The Swansea attack would also have Gylfie Sigurdsson on the wing and he was perhaps the most active player they had going forward, but even he had few chances to make Artur Boruc get his shirt dirty. The only reason for that was the excellent closing down by the Bournemouth players and their determination to stop the crosses coming in. The back four managed to keep the clean sheet in large part because Surman and Gosling were winning the second balls in midfield and along with Josh King they were excellent at robbing Swansea players of the ball.

There were still times when the heart missed a beat with Boruc and Steve Cook both going for the same ball and neither of them making a good contact with it. Why they don't always shout for the ball in such situations is staggering when most of us can remember to do that from the school yard. Still, AFCB had some luck in this game and there was also a real intent to keep a clean sheet.
Broom Hill Garden Buildings

Some of Simon Francis' tackles did make me think that he was a second away from a yellow card or even a red if he was going to keep going in with his sliding tackles and the studs showing, but he managed to always win the ball which was just as well. Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith were also managing to press up field while getting back well when Swansea had a break on.  It all meant that Boruc only had to save a few shots from distance and it is hopeful that AFCB can continue to defend like this in future games.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Afobe and King are looking very strong together

The calls for Afobe and King to play together have been loud at times and while Callum Wilson has often had first nod, there is a message that is coming through from the pitch that the partnership of King and Afobe is a profitable one. The main reason I see for this is the work rate of Josh King who is like a busy bee in his desire to get on the ball to hurt teams.
Afobe was unfortunate not to have two goal to his name against Swansea.
I said last week that Afobe would score goals and Benik has been lacking in confidence, but will now see that his persistence is coming off. The first goal against Swansea was taken away from him because of the deflection, but just for him to see the ball hit the back of the net is the boost he needed. Benik did make himself available when AFCB had the ball in the box on the day and he might have done better with his finishing at times. The second goal though was extremely well taken as Benik had almost lost his balance, but kept his cool to aim at the foot of the far post.

It's the partnership that I'm particularly interested in. Josh King does not mind to play Benik in when he is on the last man and when he sees a killer pass he has made it as easy as he can for Benik. Benik himself has been concentrating more of hitting the target from what I can see and although the power is sometimes reduced in his shots, just making the keeper work is going to bring rewards in some games.


With King playing in behind Afobe, there is the chance for King to come back and win balls in and around the midfield and he picks off players so well that it is probably King's strongest position. I have also said that Howe might consider that he needs to build the side around King if he is going to be the man that he always now looks to start. I see every need to get the best out of Josh and if that means playing Afobe in front of him in the number nine slot, then so be it. Of course, that is a hinderance for Jack Wilshere, but I also believe Eddie Howe has one eye on next season and what's best for the overall development of the team.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Back-to-back wins have made life more comfortable for the Cherries

The Premier League table certainly looks a lot more healthy for the Cherries than it did before their recent two home fixtures, but back-to-back wins for the first time in a year have propelled the Cherries back up the table to relatively safety. It is the home form that has been especially impressive this season, unlike in 2016/17 and the Cherries we must remember are still learning to play in this league and are gaining experience all the time.
The Cherries are on the move up the table.
There has been a good atmosphere at Dean Court and this must have helped the team. It was like a carnival on Saturday with the players from 1986/87 coming back to see the crowd acknowledge their involvement in getting the Cherries promoted some 30 years ago. It is today's players though that make the headlines these days and to see the sudden improvement in results is very satisfying as thoughts turn not to staying up but how many more points can the side get?

It must have been baffling for Eddie Howe to ponder why the back-to-back wins just have not been coming in the last year. The fixtures are varied enough to provide times where you are not playing the top six every week, and no team faces a run of three or four away games in a row, so there is ample opportunity to build on results. It just hasn't happened though as the inconsistencies and individual errors have held the team back. 

Now there is a short break when AFCB can re-charge their batteries to see if they can go on a run, and while the first test will be a South Coast derby, this will add even more spice to the players' desire to keep the run going.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Afobe hits form to sink Swans 2-0

Match Report
18 March 2017
AFCB 2 v 0  Swansea City 
Attendance: 11,240
The teams are led out.
This was a vital victory in the Cherries' campaign and the 2-0 scoreline did not reflect how nervy and tight this match was, particularly in the first half an hour. Still, Swansea City found it hard to create any clear openings and when Benik Afobe saw his shot deflect off Alfie Mawson on the half hour, the Swans began to drop from their high pressing game. Bournemouth took an even firmer hold of the game in the second half when Afobe again broke through and on the angle slipped the second goal past an unprotected Fabianski. The Cherries could have made it an even bigger win, had Jack Wilshere hit his injury time shot to either side of the Swansea keeper, but the importance of the win was certainly noted by Eddie Howe and the players as they celebrated at what looks increasingly like a third season to come in the Premier League.

It's a six pointer all right.
What kind of Swansea would turn up?
The Cherries made an enforced change with Harry Arter unable to play a part in the game with his calf injury, so Andrew Surman started in midfield as his one-match suspension had been served. AFCB also had Lewis Cook brought into the subs bench ahead of his U20 England squad call up.

More pictures can be found on Match Day Gallery.

Broom Hill Garden Buildings

Swansea sought any advantage they could by switching ends at the start, but it was the Cherries that had the early pressure with attacks coming down both wings. Josh King was the first to fire high and wide.

A Bournemouth corner soon followed but Fraser over hit his cross. Simon Francis managed to get caught in possession by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Swansea put a good free kick in that was only just to high for Alfie Mawson.

The Cherries were getting Ryan Fraser on the ball early and he took aim on nine minutes, hitting his shot narrowly wide of the left post.

Both teams were pressing high up and tried to force errors at the back. A quick Swansea throw for the right was headed on by Llorente and gave Sigurdsson a half volley chance that he hit too high.

Another attack from the right saw Francis win the ball back for the Cherries and Fraser put in a curling cross that Afobe headed just wide with a diving effort.

Swansea were defending well with their two lines and Surman at one stage had his arms up asking Bournemouth players to find space out wide, when they had all been sucked into the middle and he couldn't get a pass away. 

Referee Mike Dean was letting rather a lot of fouls go unpunished with any cards, and Gosling was on the end of a sharp challenge from Jordan Ayew. Steve Cook came forward and made a crafty chip for Daniels to chase but he just ran out of pitch before he could cross.

Adam Smith then made a foul on Swansea's left wing and the free kick almost brought the first goal, as Josh King's defensive header just skimmed past the far post with Boruc a bystander.

A corner for Swansea led to Tom Carroll having a shot blocked by Pugh and any calls for a penalty were waved away.

AFCB's first goal came after Gosling had had a shot blocked by Ki Sung-Yeung. King and Pugh made a good one-two and King was about to pick the ball up again, when Afobe took it off his toe and ran with it to the D when he hit a shot that deflected off Mawson and left Fabianski stranded as the ball past him to his left.

Swansea were down, but AFCB were giving them rather too much hope that the lead was fragile at times. Steve Cook and Artur Boruc went for the same ball and Boruc flattened Cook and had to quickly recover the ball that had escaped them both in Bournemouth's box. Cook was left rubbing his back, but the lack of communication between the two players was worrying.

Sigurddson then had a shot from 30 yards or more out that Boruc scrambled away to his right for a corner on 36 minutes. Ki Sung-Yueng finally made the referee get out his yellow cards after Fraser was sent flying. Adam Smith's free kick was fairly central following this, but he hit it right down the keeper's throat.
One up at the break.
The 1987 brigade.

Second Half
Swansea came out trying to get back on terms with the Cherries with an early cross from Sigurdsson missing everyone.

The Cherries started to get back on top though with a free kick for a foul on King. Gosling took a long shot that was saved well low down to Fabianski's right. 

Swansea brought on Luciano Narsingh on the right wing and subbed Ayew on 58 minutes. Bournemouth were in the passing groove now and King had a strong shot blocked before Fraser saw his shot low to the right well saved.

Gosling was winning a lot of the balls in midfield and Bournemouth would just release Smith and Fraser on the right who were having a lot of success. Fraser also put in a fabulous tackle coming back on Sigurdsson.

Gosling and Surman then gave a free kick away for fouling Tom Carroll. This was Sigurdsson range all right but he hit the five man wall, much to the delight of AFCB fans.

Ki Sung-Yueng had a shot was deflected for a corner. Boruc then punched the cross clear. Ki Sung-Yueng then found he was to be subbed for Wayne Routledge to play on the left wing as Sigurdsson was moved to the number 10 role, behind Llorente.

Narsingh was doing well on the right wing for the Swans, but Daniels was doing enough to stop his run for a corner. Swansea's pressure resulted in Steve Cook volleying clear before Francis had to head away. Luckily Carroll could not keep his shot on target from range.

Gosling made a good interception in the middle of the park that King took up and passed to Afobe and the Cherries' front man steamed in on the angle, from the right side of the box, and kept his feet to finish clinically in the left corner, off the post, to make it 2-0 on 72 minutes!

Routledge brought a save out of Boruc before Jack Wilshere was introduced to let Fraser come off. Jack immediately caused problems and was fouled by Cork who was carded. Then Wilshere got in around the back of the Swan's defence only for King to see his header saved at the foot of the far post. 

Llorente was subbed on 82 minutes for Borja Baston, but Swansea just couldn't make any headway against Bournemouth's defence.

In added on time it was a great run from Wilshere that had AFCB fans wondering if this was the moment when he would score, but he fired his shot right into Fabianski's mid-rift. Meanwhile, AFCB eat up time by introducing Gradel for Josh King and Jordan Ibe for Marc Pugh. But by the time Ibe got his first touch the final whistle blow.

We like that 2-0 - a rare clean sheet.
Gosling shakes Paul Clement's hand.
A super day for the Cherries. The mood had been good all afternoon with the anniversary of the 1987 promotion well served by a walkabout by the players of that year taking to the pitch at half time and they would have been delighted to see Bournemouth's present day Afobe strike well and effectively to earn AFCB three valuable points. But the big statement was the clean sheet and the back to back wins at home. It underlined just how well the back four played and how well they were protected by Dan Gosling. AFCB also had too much for Swansea going forward with Fraser and Smith doubling up well and Josh King bossing the play in and around the Swansea box. This was a very satisfying win as Swansea had tried very hard to get something from the game and AFCB had stood firm, something that they have not always done from winning positions in games.
What a big result.
Happy days!


Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Fraser (Wilshere), Surman, Gosling, Pugh (Ibe),
King (Gradel), Afobe

Cherries' Subs
Allsop, B Smith, Cargill, L Cook, Wilshere, Ibe, Gradel

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Smith 8, Francis 7, Cook 8, Daniels 7, Fraser 8, Surman 6, Gosling 8, Pugh 7,
King 8, Afobe 8

Swansea City
Fabianski, Fer, Fernandez, Mawson, Kingsley, Cork, J Ayew (Narsingh), Ki Sung-yueng (Routledge), Carroll, Sigurdsson, Llorente (Bastón)

Swansea City Subs
Roberts, Amat, Britton, Nordfeldt, Routledge, Narsingh, Bastón,

Ref Watch: Mike Dean - 5/10 not always kind to AFCB Dean had a reasonable game, even if the cards were a bit slow to come out and we know it's always hard to get many decisions from him.