Saturday, 31 March 2018

Not much to choose between Watford and Bournemouth

The recent matches between Watford and Bournemouth have not seen many big wins. Last time Watford did beat the Cherries 0-2 at Dean Court at the start of the season, but there is little difference between the teams expect a goal difference of four as we head into the 32nd game of the season.
StrataBet data on Watford FC
The smart money could well be on the draw this weekend. StrataBet gives neither team a strong advantage and points towards a draw. Watford have an average of scoring 1.42 goals at home and the Cherries are averaging 1.52 goals in away games. Watford have conceded 56 goals this season at an average of 1.81 goals per game, whereas Bournemouth have let in 48 goals at an average of 1.55 goals per game.

The chances created is also very close. Watford have managed 317 chances form their games and have needed 7.93 chances to score a goal. Bournemouth have done marginally better in creating 327 chances but have not done as well at needing 8.61 chances to score a goal. So this would indicate that the Cherries are not as sharp in front of goal even though they could well create more chances.

The team selection will be intriguing for Bournemouth with injury problems for Adam Smith and Simon Francis. Howe could play Ryan Fraser at right back in a 4-4-2 system, but he could opt for three at the back and go on the attack with a 3-4-3 formation which could well suit the players he has available like Pugh and Fraser, who could play as wing backs behind a front three of Stanislas, King and Wilson. Ibe could also feature if Howe feels the three at the back can defend well enough against Watford's forward line.

If Francis is deemed fit, as has been suggested after yesterday's press conference, will Eddie Howe risk him from the start? Adam Smith's medial ligament damage looks to have ruled him out for four to six weeks.

Possible AFCB line up
AFCB Subs: Boruc, B Smith, Simpson, Surman, Fraser, Mousset, Defoe
Your chance to win a Cherry Chimes T-Shirt
Tweet your score prediction for Watford v AFCB to @CherryChimes to try and win a Cherry Chimes T-shirt. We will pick a winner form all the correct score predictions for the game. 

I'm hoping that Ray Wilkins also makes a fast recovery after being taken ill this week with a heart attack. Our thoughts are with him.

I other news, The Sun is linking Everton with a £25m move for Callum Wilson

Friday, 30 March 2018

Rival Lines: Chalobah or Aké - who got the better deal?

Rival Lines
Match Preview
Watford v AFCB
Podcast/blogger Interview: From the Rookery End
Twitter: @watfordpodcast

I was pleased to get back in contact with Watford's From the Rookery End lads who were keen to put me straight on a few things about Watford this week. I was unsure if they wanted Troy Deeney to stay, if Marco Silva was the best manager they've had in recent years and whether they were just glad to be playing at home after their recent results in away games. 

CC: Do you think Marco Silva was a good fit for Watford before the Everton approach?

FTRE: He certainly felt right at the time, although anyone would have felt right after the Walter Mazzarri tenure. We needed rejuvenating and the way Silva picked up Hull during their ultimately failed attempt to stay in the Premier League earned him many admirers. We moved fast in the summer to appoint him and that seemed necessary to fight off any competition for his services.

CC: What do you make of Javi Gracia - more than a stop gap manager?

FTRE: After the arrogance of Silva, the early impression of Gracia is that he is much more humble and grateful for being given the chance to manage in the Premier League. And whilst we understand the Pozzo model and are comfortable with it, I'm sure there are many Watford fans who would like to see a Head Coach who can settle into the role, make steady progress and play reasonably entertaining football - we don't ask for much!!!

CC: What's happened to Watford's away form in 2018?

FTRE: It's pretty fair to say it's dropped off a cliff. In fact the poor run started in December, by which time the Silva-Everton shenanigans were in full swing. It included throwing 3 points away at Palace in the dying embers of the game. And whilst Javi has markedly improved the home form, improving away performances has been much tougher. In his defence, having to go to the Emirates and Anfield as part of those travels would be tricky for any manager.

CC: Did you expect André Gray to get more starts at Watford this season?

FTRE: I've been a broken record regards Andre Gray on the From The Rookery End podcast this season. I expected Andre to feature heavily away from home, where defences would be playing a higher line, leaving space behind for him to exploit with his pace. It hasn't quite worked that way and the seemingly bizarre approach of Silva resting strikers immediately after they have found some form\hit the target hasn't helped him. Since Javi's arrival and the beast that is Stefano Okaka getting more game time, Andre's involvement has been minimal.

CC: Do you feel that Watford have under achieved this season after the start the team had?

FTRE: Just like the Cherries, Watford are currently sitting nicely in mid-table and that, at present, is a decent improvement on last season's 17th place. However, with the start we had and the points we've thrown away against the likes of Palace, Everton and Swansea, it's hard not to think about what might have been. Thoughts of having potentially chucked away a shot at a Europa League spot is still niggling at the back of the mind.

CC: Do you think Troy Deeney will still be at Watford next season? 

FTRE: If you'd asked me that question a few months ago I'd have doubted if he'd even be here now. Rumours were abound, as they have been for many transfer windows with our club captain and a move to WBA was high on the agenda. But that never materialised and once again Troy has shown his importance to the club with match winning goals against Everton, and of course, West Brom. You have to wonder at what point will clubs be distracted from chasing Deeney given their lack of success in prising him away from Vicarage Road. So maybe we'll seen him here for a few more seasons yet.

CC: Are there any young players at Watford who could be breaking through to the first team soon?

FTRE: Before the Pozzo era, Watford bringing players through their academy was a necessity as transfer funds were limited. These days, with a combination of the money available and the need to have Premier League ready players in the squad, there has been less focus on the academy. A vast injury list saw a few young graduates make first team appearances in the Premier League last season. Of those, left back Brandon Mason showed signs of promise. However, we are unlikely to see any youngsters challenging the current first team squad at present.

CC: Who do you think has the better deal - Bournemouth with Nathan Akee or Watford with Nathaniel Chalobah?

FTRE: Watford, but of course I'm going to say that! £5m (reportedly) is a lot less than Bournemouth paid for Ake and with the start to the season that Chalobah had, it looked like the Hornets had got themselves a bargain. However, the serious injury he suffered is a setback and there is a risk of course that he doesn't find that form again. I honestly feel Nathaniel would have had a great chance of making England's World Cup squad had he stayed fit and carried on the season is the same vein as he started. And it says a lot that as part of his rehabilitation, he has been training with the Three Lions during the international break. As for Nathan, well he is a player we know well of course and I completely understand the much bigger fee paid for him. He had two years of Premier League experience under his belt, impressed at both clubs and was so important to Bournemouth during his time at the club. All those factors raise the price tag of a player. From the outside looking in, I don't think Ake has let his high value affect him.

CC: Watford's top scorer is midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré on seven goals, so is there a particular striker you'd like to see come to Watford to boost the goal scoring next season?

FTRE: Finding a ready made Premier League goalscorer is a very difficult task and when you do, you're having to part with large sums of cash. So for clubs like Watford and Bournemouth it means taking a gamble. If we do sign a goalscorer in the summer, then in true Pozzo style, I'd expect it to be a bit left field and someone we may not know much about. This season, we've had goals from all over the pitch and had 15 different goalscorers in the Premier League. So we haven't suffered as much as you'd expect from just looking at how many goals our top marksman has.

CC: How do you expect Watford to line up against Bournemouth?

FTRE: Gracia has been fairly consistent at home. Expect him to start with a 4231 formation, but if the game is tight with Watford looking to make something happen then he'll likely switch to a 442 at some point in the second half to push on.

CC: What's you score prediction for this Watford v AFCB?

FTRE: We've been pretty well matched in recent Vicarage Road fixtures and I can't see that changing. A 1-1 draw.

CC: Which three clubs do you expect to go down to the Championship and who do you think will come up through the play-offs?

FTRE: West Brom are doomed. Stoke, whilst making themselves hard to beat have struggled to turn draws into wins when they've needed them most. West Ham must be worried with the state their club is in, however I have a nagging feeling that they'll get away with it and Huddersfield's less experienced squad will battle valiantly but drop into the bottom three. Going up in the play-offs? With Villa suddenly losing form and Derby looking a bit wobbly, I think our old mucker Slav and his Fulham boys will be victorious at Wembley!

CC: Well it's good to hear that From the Rookery End are relatively pleased with how this season has turned out. I tend to agree that a score draw is a safe bet for this game although Watford have only lost one of their last five home games which should really make them favourites I'd suggest. Some Bournemouth fans will probably be more than a bit glad that the club shelled out all that cash for Aké as he has been sensational, but it's good to hear that Watford are starting to get good value in some of their signings like Chalobah. If it is Fulham that come up I'll be among the first to buy tickets for the away game as you can't beat Craven Cottage for a good time. I am also looking forward to visiting Vicarage Road again and hopefully we can knock Harry the Hornet off his game!

Internet safety

In other news, IT Support Business (Itsb) recently held a Connect With Care session  run by AFC Bournemouth at St Katharine's CE (VA) Primary School in Bournemouth as part of Safer Internet Day 2018. Andrew Surman of AFC Bournemouth did a fantastic job of educating the children on internet safety. You can read more about it on the AFCB website. Itsb became an official partner of AFCB in 2017 - click here to visit their website and find out more.

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Tweet your score prediction for Watford v AFCB to @CherryChimes to try and win a Cherry Chimes T-shirt. We will pick a winner form all the correct score predictions for the game. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Keeping ahead of Watford is AFCB's next objective

Watford have slipped behind Bournemouth after the last round of Premier League matches, but they have won their last three matches at Vicarage Road including a 4-1 win against Chelsea. Keeping ahead of Watford will require a great performance form Bournemouth and having had a big lay off before this game, both teams will be energised to go at each other in what I predict could be a high scoring game.
Watford have been strong in home games so don't
read too much into their defeat against Liverpool/

Watford stumbled quite hard in their last match when they went down 5-0 to Liverpool. They found it impossible to defend at Anfield and losing a goal after four minutes put them straight on the back foot. Bournemouth will try and do something similar, but Watford will know that this is a game that they can win and they are no more safe than Bournemouth are.

Their best player this season has been Abdoulaye Doucouré, but last August it was Etienne Capoue and Richarlison that scored the goals that broke Bournemouth and all three players are likely to feature again for Watford in this match. then it was Surman and Arter that came off second best and it will more likely be Gosling and Lewis Cook that contend with Watford's midfield for possession on Saturday.

Watford have seen Heurehlo Gomes sidelined with a back injury and Orestis Karnesiz was in goal for the match against Liverpool. It is a big call now to see if Javi Gracia decides that Gomes needs to come back into the Hornet's starting line up. Tom Cleverly has also been a miss for them with a hamstring problem after the Stoke City draw in January.

So Watford might not be at full strength and AFCB will be looking to get a few of their injured players back in contention. If the Cherries can get three points in this one though then they can really set about last season's total.

Watford Home Form

AFCB Away Form

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Will Ibe start to fill his boots with goals now?

The form of Jordan Ibe has been pleasing to see. He may not have stayed injury-free all season but when he has played there has definitely been improvement this season and the goal he scored against WBA was his best to date which should push him on now to see if he can register a few more goals before the end of May.

Jordan Ibe has made good progress this season.
I think Ibe is one of those players that Bournemouth fans tend to quickly target when he does give the ball away or fail to get past his man. But it is his job to take some risks and to get that extra yard ahead of his opponent, so I don't mind so much if he does try a trick or two in the right areas of the pitch. Whether Ibe is going to become a better goal scorer or not may well depend on how much he is willing to risk trying to dribble past people to get into shooting positions.

The strike that he made against WBA was quite unusual to see. He hit right across the ball, and by doing so it added a big swerve that gave Ben Foster too much to do with the bounce in front of him. The shot kicked on and sped past Foster and into the net. What I found strange was that Ibe did not look to whack the leather off the ball but he hit through it in a controlled enough way to keep it on target. It does seem that he is finding out what works best for him and a strike from outside the box from him has been a rare event, but perhaps we will see more of it now.
I do like to see Ibe come off the wing and to come inside. He does open up options when he cuts inside and it allows other players to run off him and to receive the ball in attacking positions when he is on the move. But I also believe Ibe has much more to offer than what he currently is able to give. He is still developing and I would not be shocked if he becomes a much bigger player for Eddie Howe and eventually maybe for England if he can turn himself into a bit more of a scoring machine.

In other news, it was great to see Lewis Cook get 20 minutes in England's 1-1 draw with Italy. I believe his grandad will be a bit richer this morning!

Ask Fans match preview - Watford v AFCB

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Has the World Cup plane left without Callum Wilson this summer?

Callum Wilson did not get picked this time in Gareth Southgate's squad to face the Netherland and Italy and he and one or two others like Jermain Defoe and Glenn Murray may be smarting from missing out at the moment when a World Cup is right on the door step. But it will be just as important to see how players who have not been selected this time react in the closing Premier League games, as those who already think they are in the plane already.
Will Callum Wilson have a last minute say in an England call up this summer?
If Wilson can get on a run of goals he can only do himself good. It may be that this World Cup has just come six months to early for him and he has to sit it out. He can probably count himself unlucky if that is the case, but if Southgate only takes four out-and-out strikers there is not much room if we count Kane, Vardy and Rashford as nailed on choices.

Danny Welbeck has started to score goals at the right time and may be the favourite to be the fourth striker and the attacking midfielders like Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dele Ali and Raheem Sterling may help make it easier for Southgate to leave out alternative striker options, if he prefers to promote one of his attacking-midfielders further forward. Current indications are that he is willing to do this.
If such thoughts are how Southgate is viewing matters it is perhaps the next Euros that are a more likely target for Callum Wilson. He really needs to have a big season behind him going int a major competition and by not going to Russia it may actually be more of a spur to Wilson than, if he was on the plane, but didn't see any football. Whatever the outcome this summer, I am confident that Wilson will at some stage force his way into the national team and I can see it happening quite quickly, if Wilson can find his top form at the end of this season and at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Mings itching to get back playing

The club has revealed that Tyrone Mings is speeding up his recovery and is targeting the Liverpool away match in a few weeks time as a game where he could make the squad. That seems remarkable considering that Tyrone was not expected to play again this season and has not been on the training field yet with the other players. But it shows Tyrone's desire to play and to get himself in a position where he can contribute to the team.
Tyrone is on his way back.
I would like to see Tyrone get a full season of games and perhaps next season he will finally be lucky enough to go injury-free for 38 or more games. He was a record signing when he came to the club from Ipswich and as a defender he has the attributes to be a top player that could one day get international call ups, but I think next season he must break into the starting line up on a regular basis and perhaps force out some of the older players who should now be challenged for their positions.

Tyrone has in his short time on the field shown that he can keep players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his pocket. He is a tall player and I'm hoping that when he comes back he has also stocked up a bit more and will become a more powerful defender. Bournemouth don't have another player anything like Tyrone and I'd like to see him find his place in central defence as a leading ball player, as he can be the kind of player that will lead by example.
If Eddie decides that three at the back is a positive move for the team more often than not in the Premier League, then I would expect Tyrone to be a player that Eddie can't really ignore when fit. But it's games that Tyrone needs to show that he is ready to put a run of games together and progress himself as a Premier League player. I don't want to see him go out on loan as I think with Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels reaching their latter years, and Steve Cook and Nathan Aké as the regular central defenders, the addition of Mings as back three would be something that Howe has probably wanted to see for some time.

Cherry Chimes to camera - AFCB 2 v 1 WBA

Bournemouth are said to be tracking winger Scott Sinclair of Celtic, according to the Echo.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

AFCB are now in the habit of making money

Looking at the club finances for the period ending 30 June 2017, it was pleasing to see that AFCB managed to make a profit of £14m. The rise in staff costs have risen dramatically though to £71.5m when you consider turnover was £136.5m. So more than half of the money that comes into the club now goes on wages. It is right that the players and other staff are rewarded though for their abilities to keep the club in the Premier League, but I wonder what it means going forward to attract the best players to the club.
The coffers are starting to swell at AFCB.
Last summer AFCB only made three summer signings in Asmir Begovic, Nathan Aké and Jermain Defoe at a cost of approximately £30m. The salaries will have pushed that spend up further but it is always a challenge to keep spending within the club's means even when the Premier League's TV deals are bringing the club over £130m. It goes to show also how important it is for AFCB to finish in the top half of the table, if they can again to get the extra millions to make that difference which could mean an additional player or not depending on the club's finish.

The spending on players is only one side of the picture though and more progress has to be made with the academy and development of youth players if the Cherries are to grow as a Premier League club. It is simply not sustainable to keep splashing out on players, even if AFCB did great business to get three players for an average of £10m a piece last summer. Defoe was of course a free transfer but such deals don't come along often and Defoe's salary will be among the highest if not the highest I'd expect at AFCB. It is a balance of how AFCB want to spend their money for the good of the club and while players will always be the biggest cost, it would be pleasing if AFCB could start to be able to be a profitable club that is building its finances rather than just breaking even.

We don't know how long AFCB will be able to stay at this level and while it has broken the club transfer record last summer, it is prudent if it can remain competitive without having to do that every season. You can see why the issue over the rent for Dean Court was not a payment that AFCB could just allow to grow if so much of their cash flow was taken up in staff costs and to attract players the like of Nathan Aké Jack Wilshere and Jermain Defoe the club has to invest in competitive salaries. Once the new training pitch complex is built and the fan base can expand with a new stadium, AFCB will be in a much better position to build its long-term future. 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Bournemouth have to learn to play with expectation

The big sides manage to play with expectations every week more or less. For Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal it is nothing knew, but Bournemouth just are not yet adjusted to consider themselves as being favourites for a Premier League game. And yet against WBA, who had not win in seven games Bournemouth knew they were expected to win and the players found it hard to deal with that when they got on to the pitch.
AFCB fans have become used to seeing the Cherries
upset the odds. Now they want them to really challenge the
best over a season and put themselves higher
up in the Premier League.
WBA had some players that can hurt teams but Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondón should not have given AFCB players sleepless nights having played Spurs the week before. It was unlikely to be a pretty game and while WBA were bound to try and spoil Bournemouth's play by being physical and getting the ball forward quickly, it was up to AFCB to find away to compete and to be honest they struggled for much of the game.

Every game is a difficult match in the Premier League, and the fact that AFCB still could not keep a clean sheet against the bottom side in the league proved that. Yet, the Cherries have to start to believe that they are a team that is now established in the Premier League and as such to get the the next level and challenge for the top eight places they need to play with the pressure of expectation and not fear that outsiders as well as fans expect them to get a result.

The difficulty is that AFCB have enjoyed being the underdog all they way up the football pyramid and now that they are at the top table there are still many clubs in the top 20 who should beat AFCB if finances were all that mattered. But AFCB probably won't be perceived as a club that has real long term Premier League aspirations until it has built its new stadium and can attract a bigger fan base. AFCB are not so far away from doing that and if they can compete at the level where they can finish in the top 10 for the next couple of years the expectations may grow even further.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Is there a limit to what Nathan Aké can achieve at AFCB?

When England play the Netherlands on this Friday, there is going to be at least one AFCB player involved and we know that Nathan Aké is likely to play well, because we know just how good he is when he turns out on AFCB colours. The match will be intriguing for AFCB fans as we will be able to see Nathan playing for his national team and will see him working with different defenders than at Bournemouth, and he'll be playing against players we know very well.
Nathan will be playing against England tonight for Holland.
Nathan has already made his mark at AFCB. I will be surprised if he does not win at least one of the player awards this season, because he has that class about his play that is unusual for a central defender. He gets out of trouble when he really shouldn't and he carries the ball with a kind of elegance that befits a top player of a team that is even higher than AFCB.  Yes, he could play for a side like Real Madrid or AC Milan with no problem in my mind, but I'm just glad that AFCB have him for the moment and we can watch and learn how he progresses.

I have no fear that Nathan will get to the very top in the game because he has that natural ability and the honesty to try his best all the time. He can only benefit from playing for his national team and it is a shame that Holland won't be involved in the World Cup this summer. But for AFCB, it might be just as well that Nathan is not seen too frequently on the TV. His reputation is already growing and it is just a question of how much he can learn at AFCB to keep him satisfied. It was a brave move for him to transfer from Chelsea to AFCB and while outsiders will say he has given up the chance for silverware, AFCB have already got to quarter finals of competitions and might well get a bit further in coming seasons.

If Bournemouth are to succeed in future seasons it will be because they have been able to retain players like Aké who is a new generation of player for Eddie Howe to work with. He is among the best of his age and while I might not want England to lose to the Netherlands on Friday I know that I will enjoy watching Nathan Aké take the ball off a few English players.

In other news, AFCB have announced that the home game against Man Utd has been brought forward to Wednesday 18 April at 7.45pm. The match is also being shown on BT Sport.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Lewis Cook is on a fast-track learning course at AFCB

It is going to be a great moment if Lewis Cook is given a start against the Netherlands or Italy. To see a Bournemouth player in the England team who has not been a regular in the past is something special and even if Leeds fans will have believed that Lewis would get to that level no matter where he had played after Leeds United, there is some credit due to Eddie Howe and his coaching staff who have developed Lewis at just the right time to peak before this summer's World Cup.
Lewis could secure his place in Southgate's England this summer
if he has a good game in one of the next two friendlies.
Lewis has had to bide his time to get into the AFCB side and I wonder how easily he will find it to get some time playing for England. Gareth Southgate may well view Lewis Cook as a back up squad member rather than a starter in Russia but once Lewis is on that plane, nobody knows what could unfold for him of England.

The two internationals coming up will really signal how much Lewis Cook is in the thoughts of Southgate. If he does not play any minutes then AFCB fans may be despondent as to Cook's chances of getting on that plane, but we will not have been privileged to have seen what has gone on in training and it is the combinations of players that Southgate has to work on, not just seeing how the individuals operate in the team.

Lewis of course has played a lot of football with Dan Gosling and while Gosling has not been called up Jack Wilshere who was also at AFCB last season will be a player that Cook will be completing with. It may also be on Southgate's mind to see how Wilshere and Lewis Cook could work on the pitch and they should have a reasonable understanding already with the training they both did on the south coast last season, even if I don't recall them playing much together in the Premier League.

It must be a heart stopping moment for Cook when he does get told that he is going on. While you know you are ready for international duty having played at U21 level and having been in the senior squad before, it will be a special moment for him and I just hope it does come in this next week as then he has got it done and can concentrate on setting his sights on being a major part of Southgate's plans.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

It's important to have a free-kick specialist like Stanislas

I can't help but contrast the emotions between the last few minutes of the WBA game and the away game for AFCB at Leicester City. Rhiyd Mahrez absolutely shattered AFCB hearts up at teh King Power with his free kick and even when Bournemouth's free kick went in against WBA in those final minutes, it wasn't until after the match that I wondered what would that have felt like to a WBA fan?
Junior Stanislas hits the spot.
Our jubilation would have been met with desperation on the Albion front and Pardew's reaction to the Junior Stanislas goal said it all really for their club. I suppose WBA can hardly be annoyed about what Stanislas did though, because they gave him the opportunity by making a foul on Josh King in an area where Bournemouth could benefit. It is weird how in those last few minutes of games, the players don't do the simple things to keep opposition teams from having hope. Bournemouth had made a similar mistake up at Leicester.

But Bournemouth would have been no better off had Junior Stanislas not have been practising his skill at getting the ball up and over the wall in training. I had wondered if he might drill the ball low and underneath the wall as WBA are such a big side. He could see enough of the goal though to find a spot that would make it difficult for Ben Foster to get across, and to hit the shot with so much precision was amazing in those final moments, knowing that it could be AFCB's last chance.

Stanislas celebration was probably among the biggest celebrated goals of Bournemouth's season because it  was a massive three points that put a different complexion on AFCB's season. To lose or draw with WBA would have been disappointing and would have left Howe's side wondering if they would need to scrap in April to get at least a couple of wins, but now AFCB are close to the finishing line and one good performance would probably be enough now.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Going a goal down to WBA was a difficult time for AFCB

Watching Bournemouth play when they had just conceded against WBA after half time felt like just about the worst part of the season. I hate it when I don't feel the players are thriving in the atmosphere and to be fair there was a lot of gloom around the Vitality stadium, because the team just weren't functioning well at all against the bottom side in the league.
Bournemouth have an unwelcome habit of falling behind in games
Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook were not much of a factor as WBA were getting success from lumping balls over the top of them and Rodriguez and Rondón were superb at holding the ball up an bringing players like Livermore and Nyom into the game. Albion might not have been a team with a lot of confidence but they had the game in their pocket and watching Ben Foster take an age to make his goal kicks seems like a repeat performance of so many other AFCB games that have run out of steam as the pressure on the players mount.

I could not see how AFCB were going to turn the game around without the crowd picking up the noise level. The game needed a special moment before Albion sucked the life out of the game. I don't think WBA dragged AFCB down to their level. WBA were very effective at what they are good at and AFCB's little flicks and tricks just were not coming off.

It needed someone to grab hold of the game and get the players pushing harder to test Ben Foster. It may not worry Howe too much that AFCB found it so difficult to get past the WBA press in the first half, because the Francis substitution disrupted AFCB's game, but he should question why Bournemouth could not get their game going. The late comebacks are terrific to watch, but AFCB don't want to be in that position in every game and it will be good to see if the break in Dubai will help them to regain some energy and purpose in their Premier League season, which still needs better consistency to ensure AFCB do get a top10 finish.

However, AFCB are almost safe and that is a good achievement with seven games to go.

AskFans - AFCB 2 v 1 WBA

Daily Mail Fans' Verdict - AFCB 2 v 1 WBA

Monday, 19 March 2018

Daniels clearance was a huge part in AFCB's season

It could have been another Leicester story against WBA, having worked so hard to get in front of Alan Pardew's team. A last minute clearance from the line from Craig Dawson could have ruined the day again for AFCB, but Charlie Daniels made sure that even if Begovic was beaten, he was not going to let WBA score a second goal.
Charlie saved AFCB with his last minute clearance.
Clearing the ball off the line was as crucial as the goals scored at the other end. A point would have been something considering AFCB had been behind, but to get the three points was huge and has pushed AFCB to the edge of safety. Sometime defenders don't get the recognition they deserve but Daniels can be pleased with how he played and the final goal line clearance.

Charlie Daniels had been left out of the starting line up after his recent performances against Leicester and Spurs. It was probably just as well I thought having seen Allan Nyom flying down WBA's right wing in the opening stages of the game, but Daniels managed to make the right back defend a bit more as the game progressed and Daniels had a good game in general which must have pleased Eddie Howe.

Daniels may well find himself back in contention now for the next game as well with Simon Francis and Adam Smith struggling for fitness. But he has now been dropped for a game which should give him the motivation to watch that he keeps his match levels at the highest standards.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Bournemouth leave it late to stop it being Albion's day

AFCB 2 v 1 WBA
17 March 2018
Attendance: 10,242
Bournemouth faced WBA in a crunch match to
avoid being involved in the relegation scrap.
The cold air didn't disguise the feeling of nerves at Dean Court as Bournemouth's players set about the bottom side in the league. The fear of defeat was strangely growing in the first half with Bournemouth decidedly off colour and short of any tempo on which they regularly pride themselves. When Jay Rodriguez had a simple task to put Albion ahead on 49 minutes, there didn't seem anyway back for the Cherries. Even when Eddie Howe turned to Jermain Defoe, another comeback seemed unlikely against such a solid WBA defence, but Jordan Ibe decided to be adventurous and slammed in a shot from some 25 yards out, which Foster should never have been beaten by. The game was there for the taking and while Junior Stanislas has been disappointment often in free kick taking, he trusted in himself and his technique to find the top corner and the points were Bournemouth's!
Simon Francis would not last long in the first half which will be a worry for AFCB.
There were a couple of changes to starting line up with Josh King and Adam Smith coming into the side, while Charlie Daniels and Lys Mousset were on the bench. Marc Pugh was also back on the subs bench and Ryan Fraser, who had been a doubt for the game.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

There was no quick start for AFCB. WBA won the first corner but Chris Brunt hooked his cross out of play. Bournemouth couldn't get an attack going and Nathan Aké fell to the ground in a heap when going for the ball while Francis scared everyone by turning to pass back to Begovic with Salomon Rondón lurking. Albion pressed high and the Cherries found it difficult to make any progress.

Ibe couldn't get past his man and the momentum was with WBA when Rondón's header had to be well saved by Begovic on 10 minutes. A WBA corner followed before Bournemouth went close with a Wilson header and then a Gosling header that Foster needed to save. WBA came back with Rodriguez who had a long shot that Begovic saved easily at his feet.

Bournemouth then had a problem with Simon Francis stopping with a hamstring pull. Charlie Daniels replaced him on 17 minutes. Ibe then had a shot following a Bournemouth corner, but fired wide.

Foster was kept busy by Daniels who forced a save from the Albion keeper on 22 minutes. Nyom was bursting down the right frequently, but Steve Cook was making clearances when the crosses came into the box.

Albion were posing problems though with Yacob shooting over. Adam Smith was injured but was given a yellow card for his trouble as was Jake Livermore for starting a shoving contest.

WBA came forward again with Nyom's cross being picked up by Gibbs, only for Ibe to win the ball and roll it out of play, but the officials didn't see that and so he played on.

Another Bournemouth corner led to a Steve Cook bicycle-kick attempt that was blocked.

Meanwhile, Lewis Cook was finding it hard to get his passing game going. Stanislas won and took a free kick only for Foster to save it at his near post. 

The three minutes of added time could not go soon enough for the fans. It was a poor half and a 0-0 scoreline.
A pretty poor half in terms of quality.
Begovis was probably the busier keeper first half.
Second half
Bournemouth were out early but soon found themselves under pressure with Steve Cook blocking Rondón. Wilson then broke with Stanislas who saw his shot blocked.

The next WBA attack resulted in a goal as play went up the left and a deep cross from Gibbs found Rondón at the far right post and he out jumped Aké, leaving Rdriguez with a great chance to snatch the lead from the knockdown, which he did on 49 minutes.

The goal was not totally unexpected. It was just what happens when Bournemouth aren't functioning well.

Dawson fouled King to give AFCB a free kick. Steve Cook's effort then went over. Lys Mousset was then give the call to replace an injured Adam Smith on 57 minutes. It was Gosling's turn to give the ball away next.

Lys Mousset had a couple of blocked shots and Heghazi felt the full force of them in his lower half, but didn't get any sympathy from AFCB fans. WBA were slowing the game down now.

Jermain Defoe replaced Callum Wilson on 75 minutes. Stanislas then shot just over the bar from a free kick. 

WBA also made a sub taking off Jonny Evans and sending on Matt Philipps. It was then that Ibe found the ball on the left in some space and he simply took aim and shot from distance, which took Foster by surprise, and left him staring at the ball that past him. The ball found the bottom corner of Albion's net! It was 1-1 on 77 minutes and Bournemouth were some how back on level terms.

Defoe soon won a corner as the noise from the home fans ratcheted up a level. WBA subbed Chris Brunt for Sam Field on 82 minutes and Rodriguez was sobbed for Robson-Kanu on 86 minutes, before Dawson fouled King and was booked.

Stanislas lined up his shot and from 25 yards out on the left. He stuck this one over the wall and straight into the top left corner. Bournemouth had won it 2-1 and the players ran to celebrate with Callum Wilson, almost knocking him off his feet.

Five minutes of added time still had to be negotiated. A shot from Craig Dawson almost got through but Charlie Daniels made a great clearance off the Bournemouth goal line, from Phillips' header, just before full time was up.
Bournemouth condemn WBA to another defeat.
Teams don't often under perform and come out winners. Yet, Bournemouth have a knack of turning on the quality in the last quarter of games at home. This match was not looking recoverable and how Ibe found the net out of nothing is still not clear to me. While others had held back from shooting, he was willing to have a shot to nothing and it worked. But even when he scored and was named over the tannoy, as man of the match, I said to those next to me that he isn't my man of the match, as there will be a winning goal. Sure enough, Junior Stanislas completed my prediction and it was brilliant to see him finally score from one of his free kicks - and to be the winner - that must have been special for him.

Bournemouth pick up the three points.
AFCB Subs: Boruc, Daniels, Surman Fraser, Pugh, Defoe, Mousset

AFCB Ratings
Begovic 7, Francis 5 (Daniels 7), S Cook 8, Aké 7, A Smith 6 (Mousset 6), Stanislas 8, Gosling 6, L Cook 6, Ibe 7, King 6, Wilson 6 (Defoe 5)

Cherry Chimes' MoM: Junior Stanislas

Ref Watch: Graham Scott: 5/10 Graham was pretty anonymous for most of the game but called a head injury on Steve Cook quickly and was watchful of WBA's time wasting.

Foster, Dawson, Evans (Phillips), Hegazi, Nyom, Livermore, Yacob, Brunt (Field), Gibbs
Rodriguez (Robson-Kanu), Rondón

Myhill, Krychowiak, Phillips, McClean, Field, Burke, Robson-Kanu,