Sunday, 30 April 2017

AFCB break 40 points and send Sunderland down 0-1

Match Report
Sunderland 0 v 1 AFCB
29 April 2017
Attendance: 38,394

A Josh King goal just two minutes from time condemned Sunderland to relegation and championship football. It was far from a convincing display from the Cherries but by winning the game they also are likely to have secured their Premier League status for another season. It was far from a certain outcome though as Sunderland had numerous attempts on the Bournemouth goal that were thwarted mainly by the leadership at the back from Simon Francis, and the outstanding saves of Artur Boruc. Their were moments of beautiful passing football from the Cherries, especially in the first half, but it became a game of attrition and Benik Afobe was subbed after picking up a hamstring pull. AFCB will still feel that they can now start to celebrate if Swansea don't win at Old Trafford this weekend. AFCB did what they needed to and move up to 10th in the league.

Lewis Cook made his second start of the season replacing Dan Gosling in central midfield, while Jordan Ibe returned to the bench along with Brad Smith.

Sunderland made four changes from the mid-week team that lost to Middlesbrough. In came Koné, Love, Pienaar and Anichebe. Out went Cattermole, Denayer, Gibson and Jones.
The Stadium of Light.
First Half
AFCB kicked off in their blue away kit and had to retake it. Bournemouth were straight at Sunderland and quickly won their first corner. Daniels worked the corner with Fraser and fired in a low cross, but Steve Cook could not beat the defender to the ball.

Pugh was next to drive into the box and was blocked out by Koné for AFCB's third corner. Sunderland did then get into AFCB's half and Borini won a free kick against Daniels in the corner. 

But Lewis Cook led the AFCB breakaway. Adam Smith moved forward quickly on the right and fed the ball into King and he shot right at Pickford, for the first shot on target.

Love put a bad ball across the pitch which Fraser latched on to and set the Cherries up field again. Pugh then picked up another corner. Fraser's cross almost reached King and Sunderland were living on the edge.

Sunderland almost had a chance when Borini misaligned a volley on the edge of the box and missed the ball completely! Arter was finding Adam Smith on the diagonal frequently in lots of space. 

Afobe gave the ball away to Borini and Defoe was blocked before Borini hot a shot high at Boruc which he managed to keep out, but it was serving viciously. A good save from Boruc.

Josh King went down in the box in the 12th minute from a Koné challenge, but he did not claim for a penalty. Fraser put in a great ball for Daniels, who stepped inside O'Shea and could not quite get his shot away, but he was really close to taking the lead.

Sunderland's attacks were quickly being broken up and while AFCB had the possession, there was a danger that Sunderland might counter themselves. The big pitch was really suiting AFCB who were knocking the ball around with a fast tempo.

Khazri makes a run to AFCB's box and pulls the ball back to Defoe who shoots horribly wide. AFCB go straight up the other end up the left wing, but King unluckily hit his shot against the crossbar and far post. It was an ambitious bend on the shot that almost curled in. AFCB's best effort so far.

This was end to end now with Khazri firing a shot at Boruc that was comfortable to save.

The only surprise is that it's still 0-0 after 22 minutes. King is winning his battle with Koné and Arter puts in a big tackle on Borini. Pugh is taking advantage and shoots back across goal, but Pickford gets down to his right to make the save.

Defoe is hit long by Pickford, but fires a hopeful shot wide. Francis loses the ball to Anichebe and Defoe shoots and has his shot blocked. Calls for handball on Francis are turned down.

Afobe is next to get some injury attention after Koné caught him. It looks like Afobe's right ankle, but he is going to continue.

Sunderland have the ball in AFCB's box and Boruc makes a good save from Khazri with his feet and Defoe has a leg stuck out to try and flick the ball past Boruc, but it's right into Boruc's arms. 29 minutes gone.

Arter is picking up a lot of Sunderland's misplaced passes in midfield and Afobe comes close to turning O'Shea. Lewis Cook is then fouled by Pienaar. King holds off a defender and sets it back to Adam Smith who shoots on target from distance and it's easily handled by Pickford.

Lewis Cook tries to stop Borini, but fouls from behind. Lewis Cook gets a yellow card. It's a good position for Sunderland, but Khazri's ball in is headed wide.

Daniels almost causes problems with a clearance that goes across the box. AFCB will be disappointed if they are not ahead at half time as Sunderland are coming more and more into this.

AFCB are not quite getting it right in the last third with Ryan Fraser the latest player not to manage to pick out King clearly with a low cross and Sunderland clear.

Defoe gets closer with some movement from Borini, and Defoe's shot back across goal going just wide on 39 minutes. Pugh puts in a low cross for Afobe that is blocked and Kings shot is cleared off the line by Love.

Kings finds some space and Afobe sees his shot blocked by O'Shea. The long ball almost finds Defoe but Francis cuts it off superbly, picking the ball out from the air. Two minutes of extra time are underway.

Defoe and Anichebe just over run the ball in the box. Pienaar puts in a good cross but Daniels puts it out for a corner with a flick header. Great defending, 0-0 at half time.

Half time Stats
AFCB: Possession 61%, shots 7, shots on target 4, corners 4, fouls 5
Sunderland: Possession 39%, shots 9, shots on target 2, corners 1, fouls 3


Second Half
Fraser is quick out of the blocks and plays it down the line for King. His cross picks out Pugh on the far side, but he heads down and straight at Pickford. Pienaar catches King and gets Sunderland's first yellow card.

Arter gets caught in possession by Ndong, but Francis makes a great interception. Fraser goes down but Manquillo makes a fair challenge, no penalty. Pugh tries to pick out the top left corner but it glides just over!

Defoe puts in Borini and Boruc has to make a great save to his right. That was a match saver! 50 minutes gone and Boruc just kept the game level.

At the other end Fraser hits a shot from 18 yards low and at the keeper. Khazri fouls Adam Smith in the air.

The game has gone just a bit chaotic. AFCB try and take a free kick quickly and Sunderland get the blocks in, but it's last gasp stuff. Francis is fouled now. Steve Cook heads over.

Great tackle from Steve Cook at the other end on Khazrhi as he was about to shoot. Corner to Sunderland and Koné heads over. Good chance missed.

Sunderland sub Pienaar for Honeyman on 55 minutes. Afobe is down again and holds his right hamstring. He's going off and Junior Stanislas comes on after 57 minutes. Stanislas plays the number 10 role and King moves to the main striker position.

A quick through from Boruc to Stanislas almost has King in, but Stanislas hits his pass too hard.

Kings puts Stanislas in up the left and AFCB recycle the ball back to the right wing with King. AFCB keeping possession and Fraser tries to play King in but he is held off.

The pace has slowed a bit this half. Honeyman is pulling Sunderland forward though. 35 minutes to go here at the Stadium of Light.

Defoe on a run from half way is forced to pass to Borini and he holds the ball up in the box and comes out to put a reverse pass in for Honeyman and Boruc has to make a sharp save at his near post! That was close.

Francis concedes a corner. Sunderland are pushing for this goal. Boruc is fouled and gets a hand on the cross.

Adam Smith puts a deep cross in from the right and Pugh again heads over on 71 minutes. Anichebe is getting some attention now after Simon Francis caught him, as Anichebe bent his head down. Adam Smith is now bundled over by Anichebe.

There's a big argument with Arter involved. Both he and Borini are booked. Kharzi is now also carded.

AFCB have a corner on 78 minutes. Arte comes forwards and Fraser gets a cross in but it's cleared y Koné. Khazri is caught offside.

Pugh goes down in the box as he loses his feet. Arter is prevented from getting a shot away and Francis has to rush back to stop Defoe on the break. This is like a school park game.

Lys Mousset is coming on for Marc Pugh on 82 minutes. Sunderland only find Boruc's hands from their corner.

King goes down in the box, it is not given as a penalty. King was actually offside as well.

Khazri then goes down in Bournemouth's box with Francis and Adam Smith falling over him.

Sunderland have another corner, just five minutes left. Boruc has to make a good save as a shot is fired in from distance!

Defoe has a chance but it deflect off of Adam Smith for a corner. The corner is straight out.

Bournemouth are back in possession. Lys Mousett plays in Fraser and he crosses for Josh King to put AFCB 0-1 up on 88 minutes. It was calmly finished by King. The Sunderland defenders all got sucked into Fraser and it was simple for King.

The game was perhaps rather apt for two teams that have had trouble keeping out goals all season. They both attacked with everything they had and it was quite remarkable that there was only one goal and that it came so late in the game. It was not any easy win for Bournemouth and they will be pleased to have got over the line with three games to play, barring a Swansea win at Old Trafford. Sunderland fought hard and might have had better luck at times, as AFCB certainly rode their luck. Josh King will again be the headliner but the whole team will know that they did a lot of running in this game. The lure of a top 10 finish is now tantalisingly within AFCB's grasp, if they can finish the season strongly from here.

Pickford, Love, Manquillo, O'Shea, Koné, Pienaar (Honeymann 55), Ndong, Borini, Khazri, Anichebe, Defoe

Black Cat Subs
Mannone, Lescott, Honeyman, Embleton, Gooch, Januzaj, Djilbodje

Boruc, A Smith, Francis, S Cook, Daniels, Fraser (Gradel 90), L Cook, Arter, Pugh, King, Afobe (Stanislas 57)

Allsop, Mings, B Smith, Stanislas, Ibe, Gradel, Mousset

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 9, A Smith 7, Francis 8, S Cook 7, Daniels 7, Fraser 8, L Cook 7, Arter 7, Pugh 7, King 8, Afobe 6

Referee Watch: Stuart Attwell - 7/10 he let a lot of things go and could have given out more cards, but he managed to keep the players on the pitch and did not fall for any of the suggested penalty calls, which was the correct call.

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

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Saturday, 29 April 2017

King and Afobe aren't the only ones who'll worry Sunderland

The form of Josh King and Benik Afobe has shot the Cherries back up to 13th in the league and they have been a major reason for the club's revival in fortunes. In the early part of the season they did not get to play together, and it is some times intriguing to see how the side develops during a season.

While most Premier League teams have one leading striker, the Cherries have had to dabble a bit with different players to get the goals they need. This can be a strength when the goals go in from different players, but not being over reliant on one striker is something that AFCB have learned. Eddie Howe talked about momentum in his press conference before the Sunderland game and much of that is down to the goals of this pair.
Lys Mousset is not the main man but he certainly
could benefit if he got a few more minutes.
However, there is another young man on the sidelines who will be hoping to get more than five minutes on the pitch. Lys Mousset has the attitude of a greyhound wanting to be released form the traps. He has been used sparingly, and his frustration about missing a last minute goal against Middlesbrough was plain to see. He may not yet have the experience of some of the other members of the squad, but he needs to see his potential realised and while AFCB close in on safety, I'm hoping that Eddie Howe may actually start to give Lys a few more minutes. The ambition and energy that he brings to a game is very evident and unlike some of the signings who have not grabbed the crowd's excitement I think there is a real degree of not knowing how good Lys might be, and I don't even think Lys knows what he is capable of yet.

You don't throw an inexperienced striker into a game that could be so important for the Cherries league status though and Lys will have to see how the game goes. I see him as a player who knows now what Eddie Howe is looking for when he comes on, and I have a good feeling that he cane deliver, so even if Josh King or Benik Afobe come off in the last 15 minutes, Sunderland may find that Lys Mousset gives them just as many problems. If he could score the goal that saw the Cherries surpass 40 points, it would also help Lys to feel that he has really contributed to the Cherries season as well. UTCIAD!

Possible AFCB team
Boruc (GK), A Smith (RD), Francis (CD), S Cook (CD), Daniels (LD), Fraser (RM), L Cook (CM), Arter (CD), Pugh (LM), Afobe (FW), King (FW)

Allsop (GK), B Smith (LD), Mings (CD), Cargill (CD), Stanislas (RM), Gradel (LM),
Mousset (FW)

Friday, 28 April 2017

Has Sunderland's luck run out?

The mid-week defeat to Middlesbrough pretty well condemned Sunderland to the Championship and it come as quickly as this weekend for them. AFCB will be the club that have the first opportunity to relegate the Black Cats and whether the atmosphere is a bit flat up on Wearside we will soon know if they go a goal behind.
The Cherries could sink Sunderland on Saturday.
The prospect of going to a game to see your side relegated is never one of much joy and while Sunderland have good home crowds you might imagine that there will be a few pointed fingers as to why they have had such a poor season. Looking at the Black Cat's home form over the last five games, it is clear that scoring goals has been a big problem When the goals dry up for Jermain Defoe, they dry up for Sunderland. With just two goals against West Ham at home in the last five games, the Stadium of Light must seem a hard place to play for Sunderland as soon as they concede.

While Sunderland have not conceded the most goals in the division, they are at the bottom for a reason and five wins all season is only about half of what Swansea and Hull City have achieved. Whether David Moyes ever had the tools at the club to make a better go at keeping them up is not clear, but he will surely take some of the blame as he has not got a winning mentality through to the players. They have not won at home since playing Watford on 17 December 2016.

What chance of a Sunderland revival for this home game? Their fans will hope that they can at least see their team really have a go for it now as they are as good as relegated and might as well throw every thing at the opposition. They will probably play with less stress and more of a mood of trying to please the fans and in such circumstances it won't be a simple game for the Cherries. If the Black Cats have any luck they need to use it now. But I suspect that even now their board is contemplating life back in the championship.

Sunderland Home Form

AFCB Away Form

Other News: AFCB have signed new shirt sponsors Umbro and Artur Boruc has triggered a one-year extension to his contract at AFCB.

We Are Wearside says, "I'm looking forward to the Championship"

Rival Lines
Match Preview 
Sunderland v AFCB
Blogger Interview: We Are Wearside
Twitter: @WeAreWearside

I needed to talk to a Sunderland blogger this week, knowing that they would be likely to speak about anything else as long as it was not about football. I needn't have feared as Gary at We Are Wearside was more than happy to open up about the season that the Black Hats have been through and it didn't take us long to see who might have been trying to fool the fans on Wearside, but has come up short. This is a story of a brilliant young keeper, a fabulous strike coming to the need of the game and a manager who made more than one mistake. Sunderland never gave out a vibe of being a club that thought they would not be involved in a relegation battle, and without an Allardyce to save them it's been pretty hard going for their faithful fans.

CC: Do Sunderland need to make yet another change in manager for next season or do you need some stability now with David Moyes?

WAW: One thing that David Moyes does not bring is stability. It's true that the annual sacking of our manager was growing tedious, but we've picked the worst one to back in the long term. Moyes has destroyed all the foundations built by Sam Allardyce towards the end of last season, alienated fans, brought in terrible footballers and is the most negative and dour man I've ever seen at Sunderland. The reputation of bringing stability, getting the best out of squads, doing well on a small budget are all untrue the bloke is a fraud. So definitely another change is required!

CC: You had a good win against AFCB back in November and Anichebe and Defoe, who got the goals that day, looked a good pairing, but why have the goals dried up?

WAW: I think Anichebe's injury was untimely, he really did make a big difference when introduced. We went on a decent run after that victory, winning three of four matches, but managed to make our squad worse during the January transfer window. Then we approached each match with the mentality 'let's not get beat', forgot how to score and now we are where we are.

CC: Did you think Sunderland had turned the corner in February when you had a massive 0-4 win against Crystal Palace?

WAW: It was out of the blue and it did feel like perhaps something had clicked. Turns out it was just a mysterious anomaly.

CC: Jordan Pickford has been a bright star for the Black Cats - would you categories him in the top five Premier League keepers - who is he behind?

WAW: I'm biased of course, but Pickford is more than capable of becoming as good as anyone. The only thing he lacks when compared to the likes of Hugo Lloris is experience - and a good defence. We've seen some excellent goal keepers at Sunderland such as Tommy Sorensen and Craig Gordon, but Pickford is the best goalkeeper I've seen on Wearside. He pulls off some tremendous saves, commands his box, has sublime distribution and despite how terrible Sunderland have played he has the self confidence and presence of mind to maintain excellent performances. He'll move on to something bigger and better in the summer and I'll be really pleased for him when he does.

CC: Whabi Khazri has not played a lot of football this season, but is he one to watch in the future having seen how well he played against Watford?

WAW: I'm not sure there are many ones to watch for us this season and it's pretty much certain Khazri will leave in the summer. Only David Moyes will choose to leave his most creative player on the bench for six months. His first start against Watford and he did more in that time than the likes of Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj have done all season. Khazri was excellent last season when he first arrived too.

CC: Which have been the players that Sunderland have missed out on most this season because of injury and would you say the Black Cats have been unlucky n terms of injuries compared to last season?

WAW: We've really missed Jan Kirchhoff, he is a very talented football. Lee Cattermole and Victor Anichebe's lengthy lay offs have also had major impacts. I wouldn't say we've been unlucky though, injury crisis follows Moyes around like a dark shadow. I remember a Dutch fella from the Dutch national team describing his injury management as prehistoric.

CC: How much would you hope to get for Jermain Defoe and do you think it's fair he moves on at the end of the season?

WAW: We'll be getting nothing for Defoe as it's in his contract he can leave on a free when we go down. I really do hope a good club comes in and takes him back into the Premier League for a few years, doesn't deserve to be dragged down with us. Would fit in nicely at Bournemouth.

CC: You had a massive game against Middlesbrough mid-week, but did you see it just as a north east a bragging rights game?

WAW: Not at all, last night was another match of going through the motions. To give you an idea of just how miserable this season has been for Sunderland fans - we really can't even bring ourselves to care about matches anymore. I'd quite happily hand Bournemouth three points, if it means I don't have to drag myself to the Stadium of Light on Saturday!

CC: Sunderland have been in the bottom three all season so will it feel like a relief when this season just comes to an end?

WAW: Absolutely, to the extent I'm looking forward to the Championship! That is as long as Moyes leaves, I truly worry for the future of the club otherwise.

CC: What do you make of Borini's comments after the West Ham draw that togetherness has been a problem at Sunderland - are there many bad eggs in the squad and if so who?

WAW: Ironically I'd say Borini is probably one of them. I'm not sure if the squad is full of bad eggs as such, but it's clear that there is zero team spirit. Many of the players here this year were the same as last, where the team spirit was excellent under Allardyce, so it's just another cross to mark on the blame Moyes chart.

CC: How do you expect to line up against AFCB?

WAW: Pickford, Jones, O'Shea, Denayer, Manquillo, Rodwell, Cattermole, Ndong, Khazri, Anichebe, Defoe, an easy three points for the Cherries and perhaps confirmed relegation for us!

CC: Some good honest views from Gary and We Are Wearside. I am not sure how much the Sunderland board also need to look at themselves for the mess they have landed up in, after all they picked David Moyes. Their ability to pick a better fitting manager may not be anymore likely than me winning the lottery. But it's also about the players and some of them don't escape on We Are Wearside which has some interesting comments on Fabio Borini in the West Ham match report. When they get fed up of blaming each other though, it is the fans that will need to breath life back into their club. We Are Wearside is already puffing its cheeks!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cherries target of first away win 2017

While the Cherries have had some relative success away from home in getting draws at places such as Man Utd and Liverpool, it has not been the glorious sight of three points that we have seen yet in 2017 in an away match. Eddie Howe certainly won't want that wait to extend to next season, so he needs to get the Cherries in sharp form for the remaining away games, and Sunderland is undoubtedly the best chance of getting a win.

Then again we have seen AFCB struggle at times against the bottom teams away from home. It has been a source of headaches for Eddie Howe and it must be maddening for him that he has not yet managed to come across a selection that has worked more beneficially. Two up front is how he has headed into most of these games and with Afobe and King both scoring regularly it is strange that the away form has been patchy. We have to go back to defeat against Hull City to see that the teams at the foot of the table are willing to risk everything to win games now. AFCB were up 0-1 in just a few minutes in that game, but they fell back into protection mode and were blown away by the Tigers energy and desire. It was not the formation but the defence as a whole that was not functioning well.
Now Eddie has his regular defenders back and although Francis and Steve Cook played against the league leaders and Spurs, the two have not been on the pitch together when the Cherries faced Hull City, WBA or Everton. Whether the two central defenders can continue their recent run of clean sheets is probably the big question with Jermain Defoe lining up against them. It was Victor Anichebe hat was the problem at Dean Court though and Cook and Francis could not stop him on that day. They have to find a way of halting Sunderland's number 28 this time around.

Lewis Cook has his chance now

Eddie Howe has reminded everyone of what a good prospect Lewis Cook is going to be for the Cherries, although we have not seen a great deal of him this season it was important for the player to get his second appearance at home this season on Saturday. While there are several central midfielders that have been ahead of him in the selection process, he now has a clear path to play his part in the last few games.
Lewis Cook should get a start against Sunderland.
Can he make the most of it? 
The gentle way that Lewis has been introduced to the team will see him in good stead later down the road. He replaced the luckless Dan Gosling in the Middlesbrough game at an awkward time, just before half time. He rose to the occasion though with his great vision and passing, making the third goal for Marc Pugh with a superb switch pass out to the left wing. Now he has to continue driving himself forward and trying to have a similar impact in the next game as he is likely to be a starter now.

Lewis also played well against Spurs even though the team suffered up at White Hart Lane and it will be helpful to Lewis to have been involved in a game where he has come off the pitch a winner with team. He will be working hard now with Harry Arter to build up a good understanding and he will be looking to have a strong finish to the season.
Eddie Howe has said that Lewis Cook's attitude has been excellent despite not being picked regularly and that will have been a problem for a few of the players. Now Lewis is really needed though, as the number of central-midfielders has been further depleted with injuries. We could see a real problem if Arter or Lewis picks up an injury and a stand-in may have to play out of position just as cover. Bournemouth have a few utility players and it is likely that Brad Smith will be added to the squad just to add a bit more defensive back up, while Tyrone Mings and Junior Stanislas could probably also be used as central cover in midfield. Still AFCB are really stretched in that position now.