Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Can AFCB finally get the better of Chelsea?

Chelsea may have been stretched with injuries, but they are a top side and AFCB need to keep with them in this game and try and snatch something from the game if they can. While Conte has been annoyed with his lack of options, even a weakened Chelsea side is a lot for AFCB to contend with. Their cup defeat to Arsenal will have motivated them to do better and AFCB have to fight for everything now.

AFCB go back to Stanford Bridge in search of three points.
Chelsea remain third in the league having beaten Brighton 0-4 in their last Premier League match. Another south coast match should have a similar outcome in Conte's mind, but Chelsea have been dropping points with draws against Leicester and Arsenal among their last three league matches. They are not finding scoring quite as simple as Man City and their options up front are limited when Morata is not on form or out injured. Whether Chelsea invest this January or not in a top class striker may be more important for their league placing than for the Champions League, but AFCB won't be hoping that Chelsea have to wait until the summer to pick up a star striker.

Too much focus is perhaps put on Eden Hazard when they do have an excellent and very deceptive font player in Pedro. Pedro picks up numerous goals with his movement and pace and he can be the perfect foil for Hazard on occasions.

The league cup match up at Chelsea showed that Bournemouth can take the game to Chelsea and Eddie Howe will no doubt be showing a lot of the second half play that they had against Chelsea in that game to examine what worked so well. That game was really the start of Dan Gosling playing so well in Bournemouth's central midfield, and now that Lewis Cook has also found more of a regular place in the team, I'm hoping that these two can really power AFCB to be stronger in this area of the pitch, where Chelsea feed balls forward to Hazard and Pedro.

I' m predicting 1-1 tonight but perhaps you are better at guessing how many corners there will be in tonight's game?

AFCB Away Form

Chelsea Home Form


Competition - Win a T-Shirt
Send in your prediction for how many corners there will be in the game, adding both sides's corners together, on a Tweet for your chance to win a Cherry Chimes T-Shirt. We will pick one winner if more than one fan predicts the correct amount of corners T-Shirts are adult size Medium or Large. It's free entry. The winner will be contacted after the match.

Send your No Corners Tweet for #CFC v #AFCB to @CherryChimes before 5pm am on Wednesday 31 Jan 2018.

Cherry Chimes' February Newsletter brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month. It's out tomorrow with special story - Is it time to have a clear out this summer?

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Rival Lines: Have Chelsea reason to be moody this season?

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Chelsea v Man City
Blogger Interview: Chelsea Daft

We might have been deprived of football for a bit but it is good to see that Bournemouth have a mid-week game against Chelsea and Chelsea Daft is ready to give us all an update on how the Blues are feeling before this match.

CC: Are you worried if Conté leaves in the summer?

CD:  If it comes to that happening then I believe that to be the biggest mistake of the Abramovich era, more so than hiring Rafa!

He is such a talented manager, one of the top three in the world and would be hard to replace.

CC: Do you think it is good for Chelsea to get more English players in their team having signed Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley?

CD: Yes I do. He bedrock/foundation of our success was built on key English players that formed the important core of our side.

CC: What do you think of the design for the new Chelsea stadium?

CD: I like it when we get to sit inside once built, but I do admit that the outside is a bit ropey!

CC: Alvaro Morata didn't play in the Carabao Cup Semi-finals against Arsenal. Has his form become a real problem?

CD: It has become an issue because of the points lost away at Arsenal for example when he should have scored in the last minute.

He has been brilliant since he arrived here but when he doesn’t score we need someone else to step up on a regular basis. Despite his cup goals, Michy Batshuayi doesn’t seem to be that man for Conte.

CC: There's talk about Edin Dzeko joining Chelsea. Would he be a better option than Batshuayi?

CD: Yes he would in my opinion because he suits the profile of he striker this team needs. He is someone who can hold the ball up as well as score goals and for the way we play that is important.

CC: Would it be good for David Luiz to leave the club or is he not the source of much of the discontent?

CD: I’m not too sure as it all seems to have blown over. If he remains unhappy then get rid as we don’t need another Diego Costa situation going on.

CC: Which game in the Premier league did you think Chelsea played best in so far this season?

CD: It would have to be the Manchester United game because of its importance. We’ve had some big wins this season but to get another one over Jose is always good! [Ed- Chelsea won the game 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on 5 November - Morata scored the winner]

CC: What were your feelings about the team after you went out of the Carabao Cup, were the just unlucky?

CD: Deserved it to be fair. Our problem this season is that there have been games when we haven’t turned up for a half here and there and that’s not good enough. We dominated the first half, made the mistake of sitting deep in the second which took the influence of Hazard away and lost the game.

CC: Do you think Nathan Aké should have been given more of a go at Chelsea?

CD: I do but it’s always going to be a difficult situation at the time as Conte found his system that led us to the title by playing the same three defenders. His move was right at the time.

CC: How do you think Chelsea will line up against AFC Bournemouth?

CD: As strong as possible hopefully:

Courtois, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill, Moses, Bakayoko, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso, Hazard and Morata

CC: I enjoyed the answers from Chelsea Daft - short and sweet. I do wonder why Chelsea have become a perennial team in one season unstoppable and another self destruction, but when they are all together they are one of the hardest teams to beat. I just hope AFCB catch them on a off day for once and Bournemouth have come close to having more than just the one win against Chelsea since they have been in the Premier League. Thanks to Chelsea Daft - catch up on more thoughts on Chelsea's players on the Chelsea Daft site.

Competition - Win a T-Shirt

Send in your prediction for how many corners there will be in the game, adding both sides's corners together, on a Tweet for your chance to win a Cherry Chimes T-Shirt. We will pick one winner if more than one fan predicts the correct amount of corners T-Shirts are adult size Medium or Large. It's free entry. The winner will be contacted after the match.

Send your No Corners Tweet for #CFC v #AFCB to @CherryChimes before 5pm am on Wednesday 31 Jan 2018.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Can Nathan Aké upset his previous employers?

It has been six months since Nathan Aké has joined Bournemouth permanently from Chelsea. His presence in this Bournemouth team has been immense and he can return to Stamford Bridge knowing that he has done extremely well since he left, but can he leave his mark in a game against his old employers?
Can Nathan Ake return to Stamford Bridge to upset his former employers?
I don't see why not. Nathan Aké was a big scorer in his first period on loan with the Cherries and while he has scored this season he has not been able to get forward with quite as much success. But he is very good in the air and he might fancy his chance against a few in the Chelsea side who are not the biggest.

It's in defence though that Nathan has really been effective for AFCB. He is often the last man at the back but does not get flustered when teams are breaking on him. He also has a good acceleration of pace that gets him out of trouble at times. He is like a smaller Ruud Gullit running about with his dreadlocks and I do hope he has his hair done in that dreadlock style as a reminder of another great Dutch player. Comparisons have been made before and you can read about more about the younger years of Nathan on this Daily Mail post.

Hs decision to leave Chelsea was a brave one in many respects. Chelsea still are the Premier League Champions and he will have known that while Bournemouth are a young club in the division they were not about to challenge for the title or even the top six. He has the drive though that I see in a lot of Bournemouth players who want to improve and coming back to Chelsea he may just be hyped up a bit more than any other game. I'd like to see him have a great game just so that he can get the admiration from the Chelsea fans as much as from the Bournemouth supporters.

Should Junior Stanislas start against Chelsea?

There were 62 minutes gone last Saturday week, when Eddie Howe looked at his bench and ushered Junior Stanislas to come on to replace Jordan Ibe. It underlined the faith that Eddie Howe has in Junior to be creative and find passes that other players can't and of course he did just that in getting a ball through to Ryan Fraser for Bournemouth's goal.
Junior Stanislas, Adam Smith and Jodan Ibe will have to
battle it out for the right sided attacking position.
For Stanislas it has been another injury ravished season. He must wonder what he has to do to play four or five games in a row. But did his performance against West Ham do enough to make him a good choice to start against Chelsea in the next game? Eddie Howe will certainly be asking that question in training this week and wondering if Junior is better than others to start on the wing. It's quite something that Junior can just come into the team and turn on the class so quickly having been out for a while.

It should be a good battle between Ibe, Adam Smith and Stanislas now to see who does start on the right. All three have their merits and while the left side has been very strong with Ryan Fraser in such good form it will be great to see the right side suddenly have more competition. The seniority of Stanislas might give him the edge, but his problem is that he hasn't been able to play regularly and what Eddie Howe would give for a Junior Stanislas that could play a full season at AFCB.

It will be difficult to suddenly tell Ibe that he should take a breather after he has done so well for the team while Adam Smith has been amazing in playing on both sides of the pitch to cover in the last few weeks. At least with the new 3-4-3 shape Adam Smith is likely to play in midfield, leaving Ibe and Stanislas to slog it out for the advanced position on the right. So does Eddie tell Stanislas that he has to show more in training before he can start? I don't envy Eddie this choice. But the person he decides to start against Chelsea on the right must surely be the player he most favours to do the job best.

Meanwhile, AFCB winger Conner Mahoney has joined Barnsley on loan until May.

Premier Talk
The Baggies have Sturridge and hope

Monday, 29 January 2018

Beating last year's points total - is it still on for AFCB?

I like the way Eddie Howe said this week that he is not thinking about the 40 point mark and safety, but rather trying to beat last year's 46 points. I would like to think that 40 points would keep any side up even with the closeness of the league this season, but is Eddie Howe being over optimistic to believe that AFCB can get another seven wins from their remaining 14 games?
The Cherries will need a stunning second half of the
 season to beat last year's points total.
Such a return would seem a little high as a target, but you have to set your sights somewhere. Having won six games out of 24 the second half of the season would have to be extra special to take AFCB over 46 points, but not impossible I hear you say. It does not leave much room though to drop any points in games apart form against the top six sides. Bournemouth do have some virtual six pointers at home and if they win games against the likes of Stoke, Newcastle, WBA, Crystal Palace and Swansea they will be in a strong position. Win only half of these games though and it will be a matter of scrambling some draws from other fixtures.

On the road AFCB have been okay without upsetting any of the top teams away from Dean Court. It's something that makes all the difference when you get an unexpected three points and of all the teams that Howe might want to play of the elite, I'd say Chelsea are a pretty good pick at the moment. We'll see how they get on this week on that game, but AFCB could do with taking a bit of pressure off of their home games. While the home form has improved, there is no guarantee it will hold up if things start to fall away in February.

I think February's games have the potential to put one foot of AFCB into next season, if they can win them all and I'm sure that is what Eddie Howe sees. The three games are what you'd call winnable against Stoke, Huddersfield and Newcastle and nine points now would set the Cherries up well for attacking last season's total. It's all speculation though and Howe must also recognise that they could just as easily lose those three games. So I'd say this next few weeks is the make or break part of the season for AFCB and everyone has to be fully concentrated on the games which are starting to run out now.

If Afobe were to leave AFCB would be light up front

There has been fresh rumours about Benik Afobe not to Cardiff but perhaps Watford, according to Hertfordshire Mercury. While Benik has been falling down the pecking order at Bournemouth I suggest it is not an ideal window for him to be considering a move either for himself or AFCB, but it is perhaps worse for AFCB than Afobe if a late bid did come in.
Is Afobe looking to walk away from AFCB or will he last until the summer?
It is not that Benik has been in great form. Bournemouth simply don't have a of of strikers with Jermain Defoe out of action, Lewis Grabban expected to depart. Moreover, Josh King and Junior Stanislas are rarely available for more than three or four games at a time and Lys Mousset is really only just beginning to get used to the Premier League. There is in short a problem if Callum Wilson were to get injured, heaven forbid.

For Afobe I can see the attraction of a fresh start. He simply is not in the picture at Bournemouth for most of the time. But a move to a club like Watford would be a good new beginning for him and he would not have stepped down a league. Whether he would suit Watford any better than Bournemouth is the question he might have to consider carefully. Is a move for him to Watford dependent on Troy Deany getting a move out of the club?
AFCB would need to act fast of they did think Afobe was outbound. Finding a Premier League ready striker that would fit in well with the Cherries style with just a couple of days left in the window is not something that the Cherries would be keen on. They would have to pay top dollar and Howe probably considers it essential that they keep Afobe. Still, it could force them to try and enter the race for another young goalscorer that could possibly move like Moussa Dembele at Celtic or Ryan Sessegnon at Fulham.

But say a bid came in for £12m, some £2m more than what AFCB are thought to have payed for him. That would be very tempting come next summer, but right now it would present a problem. It will be intriguing to see if Cardiff City or Watford are really willing to start a bidding war for an out of form striker. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Begovic is at the top of his game

I was as optimistic as any fan when Eddie Howe decided he would target Asmir Begovic to come to the club. It had been a few years since I had remembered Begovic playing for Stoke and even longer when he was at AFCB for a while, but I knew he wasn't a bad keeper. What he was doing on the bench at Chelsea baffled me but I still thought it might be a gamble making him the Cherries' number one, as Arter Boruc had still won player of the season last year, even if we knew he would make the odd mistake himself.
Begovic can look forward to trying to keep Chelsea out at Stamford Bridge this week.
When Begovic started to play for Bournemouth as the number one he wasn't exactly amazing. The goals were going in against  WBA and Watford, but at the wrong end. Having a new keeper might not have been all of Bournemouth's problems but it was an additional thing that the team had to get used to at the start of this season. But Eddie Howe kept faith in Begovic and a few clean sheets started to come. But the saves that he has started to make since November have suddenly shown Begovic is a complete keeper. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the Cherries have one of the top 10 keepers in the league and that is not bad company when you are talking about De Gea, Ederson, Pope, Pickford, Lloris, Courtois, Gomes, Schmeichel and Butland. Arsenal fans might be getting a bit annoyed right about now!
What I like about Begovic now though is that he is coming off his line earlier and catching the ball from crosses. The match against West Ham also saw him stop Arnautovic more than once with his quick thinking and his decisive decision-making. The reaction save in the first half was as good as I have seen from any keeper and while Begovic has not kept as many clean sheets as he might, the gap now between him and what we have seen from Boruc has suddenly grown into quite a big gap.

What can Begovic do better? Well, I do want to see those clean sheets and I think his kicking can still be a bit ropey at times. I suppose he is similar to Boruc in some one these respects, but there is no doubt at the moment about who is number one at AFCB and I just would not have thought that at the start of this season. 

Of course, he will want a clean sheet against Chelsea above all other teams so let's see what he can bring to AFCB for this next match.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

How did a guy from Toronto end up following AFCB?

Peter has generously given me the floor again, and I would like to describe my journey from soccer agnostic to a shirt-wearing, scarf-clad, plan-your-day-around-the-game Cherries fan.
Dean Court is perhaps just a little different to
being in the Yankee stadium, but we still love it.
I inherited my sports fan gene from my father. Growing up in Montreal, the legendary Canadiens were the pre-eminent choice. But baseball, Canadian football, and golf were all a close second. I was taken to Canadiens’ games, Yankee Stadium, the CFL Alouettes and the Canadian Open all by the age of twelve.

But soccer had very little currency in Montreal in the 1960’s. As time went by, I would have a passing interest in the World Cup (Italian heritage - not so great this year!), and an occasional look-in on the Premier League in the early days of David Beckham and later Wayne Rooney. There were very few televised matches, perhaps the FA Cup, and of course Manchester United had international cache.

My wife has family in Dorset and Kent, and made regular family visits over the years. But, for a Canadian boy, holidays meant beaches and warm sun in February, and to be honest, family visits to folks whom I had never met were not high on my list.

But that changed in 2012. The London Olympics were getting plenty of promotion, and while I was not that keen on the actual games, the London historical sites started to look very interesting. As a compromise, we planned a three-day stop in Bournemouth to see her cousins, and then up to London.

Her cousins, Barrie and Hazel, were amazingly welcoming. It was like I had known them for years. I had a great time, and in one of our travels, I asked Barrie rather innocently if Bournemouth had a team. Yes, he replied, but they were not very good. Not much more was said.
Barrie, my wife Bev, me (in ball cap) and Hazel near Mudeford in 2012.

We returned to the UK in 2014, and visited Bournemouth as a prelude to a trip to the Ryder Cup. Barrie had had been ill, but was as affable as ever, and when I again asked about Bournemouth, he replied that the side was much improved. Unfortunately, Barrie passed away soon after we returned to Canada, so he did not see AFCB reach the Premiership. And I was completely unaware of the magnitude of the Cherries’ progress.

TV coverage of the Premier League had become extensive here by 2015, and I started hearing about this Leicester side who was making a mark. I tuned into a game around Christmas, and then saw a listing – what’s this, is that the same Bournemouth? I checked it out. Pundits were saying that what Bournemouth was achieving was the story of the year, if not that Leicester was an even bigger one.

I was hooked immediately. The swashbuckling attacks of Andrew Smith, the steadiness of Adam Surman (took me a bit to get the names straight!!). What was the tragedy involving the supremely energetic Harry Arter? Cook and Francis, such stalwarts. The unpredictable Boruc. The articulate manager, some saying he is the future of English football. Why are they called “the Cherries”? Where is Vitality Stadium (even more memorable when I realized that I had been pinged by photo radar very near there). I couldn’t get enough information, and Saturday morning golf was delayed until after the AFCB game. I remember the day, not two years ago, that Vitality Stadium rang with the chant of “We’re staying up”. Still get shivers.

Now I live and die with every goal scored, every mistake, every transfer rumour. We have nothing like a relegation fight in pro sports here, so even non-Bournemouth games are watched with interest (how could Liverpool lose to Swansea?).

Because of the Cherries, I get to think of Barrie and Hazel every day. I can visualize the pier, the gardens, nearby Christchurch, Poole, Wimborne. Barrie was, in your terms, “a good bloke”. I wish I could tell him about my new-found passion. But Hazel knows, and she promises that I would have a place to stay if I ever come across a ticket. Up the Cherries!

You can contact John Lanari at e:

Thanks again to John for writing another article and sharing his love of AFCB with us all. If you are reading this and are also overseas AFCB fan, let us know your story - I know we have a lot of readers in Cyprus, USA, France and Italy especially.

In other news, it was not a great evening for Sam Surridge and Yeovil against Man Utd but Sam played some 80 minutes in the 0-4 FA Cup match. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

Bournemouth 28th richest and climbing

It just may be that AFCB are doing something right with their vision of where the club needs to go. Looking at the Deloitte football money league, as shown by the Daily Mirror. It is a fist appearance in the top 30 for AFCB but they have also been valued by Brand Finance as the number 26th best football brand. It's quite a rise from the days of the buckets and coins which made me wonder if any club cloud do s well today if they wanted to climb the football period?
Not bad going for a small town football club in Dorset.
I believe a lot of factors came together to help Bournemouth's rise. An inspirational manager, a chairman who was willing to risk his house to keep the club going, players who would play for nothing and a loyal fan base that didn't want to see the club die. By being on the edge of existence it built a special bond between players, staff and fans and the climb has been absolutely magnificent despite a few years when stability took precedence over promotion.

I look at clubs that have tried to come form either further down like Crawley Town, Burton Albion, AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood, who have not been league clubs for a long time, but have risen up the divisions and in Crawley's case fallen back down and I think some of them may be missing the odd ingredient that AFCB had to just get them that bit further. A Russian multi-millionaire was no doubt a big help and you can't dismiss the money factor as AFCB did not find it easy to compete on a level financial field with Championship clubs, so the did break the financial fair play rules. But perhaps that is the only way that clubs with small fanbase can compete?
Now that AFCB are in the Premier League their stock still seems to be rising and with a new TV deal just around the corner and perhaps another top 10 finish AFCB might be able to climb a bit higher yet.

Federici may still get his move to Forest

Adam Federici has been seen in the last few weeks warming up with the other Bournemouth keepers before Premier League games. He is now fit and ready to play and with goal keeping duties already well served with Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc installed as the Bournemouth regulars there is little reason for Eddie Howe to keep hold of Federici anymore and Nottingham Forest are still said to be interested, even though they have had a change of manager.

Federici is ready to resume his career.
Aitor Karanka, who replaced Mark Waburton, in January is going to be considering his options at Nottingham Forest and if a goal keeper is still his main concern then he will surely look at Federici if he is aware of how close he was to joining Forest at the start of the season. Federici has not played a massive part on the field for the Cherries since he signed from Reading, but he has been a massive part of the team when it came to training and being around other players. If Artur Boruc had not been ahead of him, Federici might have built up more of a bond with AFCB fans, but I expect when he does leave it will not be a huge loss for us.

What I did like about Federici is that he never said much in the press but kept himself to himself and did his job. The fact that injury robbed him of some of his playing time is not anything he could do much about, but he will certainly get lost of games if he does go to a Championship side.

Keepers tend to get better with age they say, so 32-year-old Federici might find his next challenge is one where he plays some of the best football of his career. Given the choice between a Championship team and playing third fiddle to Begovic and Boruc, I'm sure Federici will want to move in this window.

In other news, the Spurs home game has been moved to Sunday 11 March at 4pm.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Steve Cook has his game back

The role of Steve Cook might have been overshadowed a little this season in what Nathan Aké has added to the team, but I think Nathan's arrival at the club has been good for Steve Cook and could help to to be a better player. It has meant that Steve has had to play more on the right side of centre midfield when Bournemouth play four at the back, but of late he has been able to play a very central role when AFCB choose to play with just three men at the back.
Steve Cook has found form this winter.
It's somewhat of a shame that it has taken time for Steve Cook to just feel comfortable in the team again. Clean sheets have been a problem with the Cherries only achieving four this season and Steve has missed out on a few games which he was not used to. He was one of the best players last season and I think we saw him getting back to his best against West Ham. He handled Marko Arnautovic particularly well and had to use his strength as well as get his positioning right to hold the West Ham man at bay.

His part in West Ham's goal won't have pleased him. He did miss the first header and Nathan Aké didn't win his header either. So it wasn't all perfect, but Steve certainly got his foot in on several times to stop breaks, and he also played a part in Bournemouth's goal when he slipped a pass to Stansilas, despite being under great pressure at the back.

Steve has also managed to find a goal streak in him again and his goals against Newcastle and Brighton have given him more of a boost to know he is contributing to the team and not just defensively. Despite this good form, I don't think we have seen the best of Steve Cook and Aké yet, and if they can play the rest of the season together we might just see them get better at keeping clean sheets, which should be their number one aim.

Has interest in Bournemouth striker disappeared?

It  has been almost a month since Lewis Grabban was recalled form his loan at Sunderland and yet he has not been able to play a game for Bournemouth or find another club yet in this window. That might seem a big issue at first glance if Lewis wants to be playing somewhere, but with Bournemouth's current situation with Jermain Defoe still in a protective boot for his ankle, would it be such a bad idea for Bournemouth to hold on to Grabban for a little while longer?
Is Lewis Grabban an unwanted player?
I reckon Grabban wants a move more than anything and he has proved that he is a good Championship player during his time at Sunderland. But that has not gotten him anywhere yet and it does seem rather strange when Cardiff have been after a striker and are pushing for promotion. The asking price might be around the £5m to £7m mark, but his wages would not be at the top of the scale in the Championship.

But if Lewis does remain on the shelf, should AFCB try and get him to a level where he can come off the bench for the Cherries? I personally feel that if he can't be sold and can't find a loan club, then there is little harm in seeing if he can be of use to Eddie Howe. If he scored the goal that kept Bournemouth up this season then he might even receive some praise from AFCB fans who, let's face it, were none to interested when he was resigned from Norwich City.
Some will say that he would only be taking a place away from Lys Mousset or Benik Afobe but these two players might actually find something else in their game if they suddenly found that they were no longer getting on the bench anymore. If AFCB also can't sell Grabban but could find a buyer in Afobe, would it be such a worry to keep Grabban until May and pocket the cash for Afobe?

Lewis needed to go on loan at Sunderland to get his confidence back and prove to himself that he can still score goals. He has done that now, and even if the Premier League is difficult for him to be as effective, if he is as good as other forwards AFCB have on the bench he may yet have a role to play.

In other news, AFCB are said to be keen on Brentford centre-back Chris Mepham, according to West London Sport. Jack Hendry is also a centre-back that AFCb are said to be interested in say the Dundee Evening Telegraph.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Is it time to stop time?

I have kindly been asked by John Lanari, who is an avid fan of AFCB and Cherry Chimes, if he can write a few afternoon articles on Cherry Chimes. So, I'm letting him have his say for a few days, and giving you all a flavour of how a Canadian fan views AFCB and the game over here. He starts with a view on  the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, which we have heard will be in place at the FIFA World Cup this year and with sponsorship!

As a North American sports fan who just really discovered football in the past few years, I can readily see what causes all the passion and intensity. I have become an avid AFCB supporter (hopefully I can cover how that came to be in another article, with Peter’s approval!).

Time out!
North American sports have become marathon events. Hockey and basketball games run to 2 ½ hours, American football over 3 hours – all before any overtime. Much of this is due to commercial television, and some because of the ever-extending use of video replay. All use stop time, so the clock stops while play is out. Premier League Football is such an efficient alternative, under 2 hours, continuous action except for the break at the half, and you get a result. So, I am reluctant to suggest anything to lengthen proceedings.

Stoppage time is of course part of the fabric of the game, and always produces a momentary frisson as we learn how much time we will have to capture a tying goal or defend a win. However, one aspect of football time is the wasting of time. We see it often – the underdog or away team has worked valiantly to earn a point on the given day; a point that might just keep the team up when the season is done. It is late in the game so now the fun begins.

> A player substitution is made. The player being substituted always seems to find himself at the furthest point of the pitch. He meanders back to the bench, saluting his fans in true gladiatorial style, pausing to occasionally trade words and handshakes with teammates along the way. Opposing players (behaving much like the early humans at the beginning of 2001, A Space Odyssey) jump up and down around the referee, who makes a grand gesture of pointing to his watch to indicate that he has it under control. The opposing manager meanwhile is berating the fourth official to get on with it. A gentle shove of the departing player may occur, further extending the pause.

> A player is down on the pitch. The medical staff comes on. Once again, the histrionics occur.

During such situations, particularly in the second half, wouldn’t it be just as easy to stop the clock until play is resumed? This would not eliminate stoppage time per se, but simply remove these obvious events from the equation.

VAR, should it take root, will also bring about additional breaks in play. In the recent FA Cup game between Leicester and Fleetwood, VAR was used on three noticeable occasions in the second half. Referee Jon Moss conferred with the VAR official on a ball which travelled over the end line (correct call on the field), a possible hold in the penalty area (not given), and an offside call on a score by Iheanacho (reversed, for the first VAR goal awarded). Reports are that play was stopped for 69 seconds on the offside review, so add 20 seconds for each of the other calls and that is nearly two minutes of playing time. I saw no evidence that stoppage time was increased by the two minutes lost. Again, why not just stop the clock during reviews?

Opinions on VAR have been all over the map, and is not the subject for debate here. All I will say, again from a North American standpoint, is that once introduced, reviews in all sports have been broadened to include more and more plays in the objective to “get it right”. So, if it does get introduced in the Premier League, I can only hope that its use will be contained.

When stoppage time works for you, it’s a great thing – e.g. our win at Newcastle early in the season. When it works against you, it’s horrible – e.g. our loss to Manchester City in the 97th minute. It will always be part of the game. But the judicious use of “referee’s time out” in the situations mentioned might just make for greater certainty.

You can contact John at e: He particularly wants to fond more AFC Bournemouth fans in Toronto if you are out their reading this.

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Can Bournemouth think about mid-table safety?

Bournemouth sit three points above the relegation zone in 12th place in the league, but if you think they can start thinking of not having any concerns about relegation you should think again. It is more positive for the team to concentrate on trying to just think about winning games and if they can perform well the rest will take care of itself. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that AFCB could even equal last season's ninth place finish or be struggling to beat the 16th place they achieved in 2015/16.

AFCB are not anywhere near safe in mid-table.
The scary thing is that one defeat puts AFCB right back in the clutches of Southampton and looking at the teams in the Premier League there is very little between in terms of quality between the 20th and 9th place team. Bournemouth could finish in any place in this mini league and they can't afford another poor run of games. If AFCB had not have beaten Everton and Arsenal of late they would have been bottom of the league.

Of course, the pressure will start ramping up on those who are in the bottom three whenever they fail to get a win now. But Bournemouth have to ensure that now they are above that zone that they at least get a draw against those trying to catch them.

Bournemouth's form is going to be reliant on who is available and considering that so many players have been unavailable at times this season it is fingers crossed time that they don't pick up any more problems. Not being in the FA Cup has reduced the number of games and should make the squad stronger for the run-in. It may not seem right, but the FA Cup doesn't really matter in the context pf Premier League survival.

If Bournemouth were to beat Chelsea in their next game they might well start to dream that a little more could be possible out of this season. I guess we should be pleased that we have had a exciting season so far, but I bet Eddie Howe would like it not to be as exciting in the run-in, as mid-table boredom or safety doesn't really exist at the moment.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Fraser is trusting of his left foot

In my suggested team selection for the West Ham game, I thought Ryan Fraser might have been dropped. I didn't know at what stage Josh King was in his fitness, but I felt that Ryan had played a lot of football and might be the one who needed a rest after the cup exit against Wigan.
Fraser is a man AFCB need to keep giving the ball to.
But fair play to Ryan. He came out again and took quite a battering from West Ham who are one of the more physical teams. He belies his small stature and is a powerful player when he is in full flow. Ryan has started to play more and more on the left side now and I expect Eddie Howe has wanted to improve the youngster's left foot as well as giving him the option to cut back inside on his right. The left footed finish against the Irons was firmly hit and it's good that Fraser trusts himself to shoot with either foot. It does give him the chance of scoring more goals and only Callum Wilson has scored more goals than hi in the team this season.

Ryan Fraser has become more than an impact sub this season and I'd say his game has probably come on more than most others. He seems very keen to train as hard as he can and get the extra hours in with Eddie Howe which is commendable and it's high praise indeed that Eddie believes he can become Bournemouth's Scottish Eden Hazard. I guess Hazard is as good a player to base his game on as any, and if Fraser can get to that kind of level I'd have to say he would have become the greatest player ever to wear red and black.

Such is Ryan's determination to improve that I can see him doing it. I don't think he wants to play anywhere else than on the south coast as he has benefitted so much from being part of AFCB's great story. He could well start writing a few new chapters though and this time he could be making goals that don't just earn points against West Ham, but could start taking points off the top six, which is where Ryan should be trying to take his game to now.