Tuesday, 11 April 2017

What do Liverpool and Chelsea games tell us about AFCB?

The analysis of the matches against Liverpool and Chelsea point towards a Bournemouth side that is able to compete against the top sides now, but there may be some way to go before the Cherries go into such games playing as comfortably and in control of the ball as they can against some of the lower tams in the division.

It was clear that Eddie Howe instructed his side to stand off of both Liverpool and Chelsea to some extent rather than always engage them in areas of the pitch where he felt they would get ball threaded through them if they pushed up to far. The pressing game was certainly less evident for Bournemouth in these matches, and yet even Harry Redknapp admitted in his commentary for BT Sport that AFCB aren't as used to playing in this way when they are not full out on attack for 90 minutes.
AFCB are still looking for that win to make it to safety.
The number of goals that AFCB had been conceding in January through to March this year probably encouraged Eddie Howe to think differently about how he should approach the away game of Liverpool and the home game against Chelsea. While the Man Utd match away had been very much a combative performance, AFCB needed to find the right pass at the right moments when Liverpool over played their possession football at Anfield. But it was never going to be as end-to-end as we had seen earlier in the season at Dean Court between these sides. That had been embarrassing for Klopp and his side and they knew Bournemouth had players that could hurt them. But going defensive against an AFCB side to protect a lead is asking for trouble. Klopp will add that to his notes for the next meeting.

Chelsea though were able to relax further when they went 1-3 up. But before then the early 0-2 scoreline almost seemed like it had been gifted to them. Howe was not so impressed with this first half even though the team showed again it can get back into games when it makes a poor start. AFCB are still not as clinical as they might be in front of goal and while Afobe came extremely close to scoring, these are chances that the best teams are sticking away more often than not.
There are still some short comings for AFCB, whether it's watching the line at the back when early balls are fed through from midfield, or even deeper back to attackers, and free kicks are golden tickets to the Chelsea's of this world, who have the quality to take games away from sides who otherwise put on a good account of themselves.

The match against Spurs is going to be no easier, but there should be a sense that many things are being done much better by AFCB against the top sides. We have not been seeing the five goal thrashings of last season, and the players know they can have good games against the top sides. But what Howe continues to see as being most important is getting the first goal. Against Liverpool it was a big step in helping them put Klopp's side off their game for much of the first half, while against Chelsea a 0-2 head-start for them makes it always a very difficult afternoon.

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