Friday, 30 November 2018

Fraser v Sterling - battle of the wingers

Both Ryan Fraser and Raheem Sterling are having unbelievable seasons. The quick men might well be the players that decide the match up at the Etihad on Saturday. While both men sit at the top of this season's assist list, the ability of Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth to keep pace with Sterling who can make assists for a star studied team is really remarkable.
Fraser and Sterling are the goal makers.
Bournemouth fans know exactly how good Ryan can be and his great energy to get up with play when Bournemouth are making breaks and looking to counter on teams. What has come along for Ryan though is his decision-making. There has been a lot less hesitation about what to do when he is attacking, and his more direct play to get up and create chances has led to a crop of chances and penalties for him and his team-mates.

But Bournemouth will have their own problems in dealing with City's winger, Raheem Sterling who seems to save his best performances for the Cherries. Keeping him off the score sheet at he Etihad has been a real weak point for AFCB and to keep a clean sheet against this City side would need AFCB's best performance of the season.

While Raheem has a few year's more experience than Ryan, I can see Ryan looking to see how he can make decisive runs like Sterling to cut teams open, and while both players are looking to improve on their finishing, I would say they are among the most exciting players to watch in the Premier League.

How great would it be for Fraser to come off the pitch on Saturday with Pep Guardiola saying that Scottish kid run us ragged today?

Rival Lines: City Watch

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Rival Lines: Man City watch - "We are sweeping most teams aside"

Rival Lines
Match Preview: Man City v AFCB
Blogger Interview: City Watch
Twitter: @City_Watch

This week I had a talk with Dean at the City Watch website and tried to find out how confident he was of the Cherries getting pushed aside by this strong Man City team. City's players look motivated and keen to extend their gap at the top of the table, but perhaps having played in mid-week AFCB can find a chink in Man City's game. Here is what Dean thought.

CC: Do you feel that wins are coming easier for Man City than last season in the Premier League?

CW: I'd say so – just a little. It's easy to forget that City had a lot of late goals to snatch wins last season (Sterling especially prolific at doing that!) but are just sweeping most teams aside this time.

CC: Should Man City be judged more on what they achieve in Europe this season?

CW: It's high time City did a little better in Europe with semi final a minimum aim, so it has to play a part. Winning it requires talent and a lot of luck – so I don't think winning it is everything but they have to be there near the end. Winning the Premier League twice in a row (not done for 10 years) would surely be a great achievement also!

CC: Has Pep Guardiola done anything that has surprised you this season?

CW: Guardiola is constantly making tactical changes that surprise us – and because they surprise us so much, they're almost unsurprising! I wouldn't say he's done anything very out of character though.

CC: Raheem Sterling has signed a new contract. Is he the most improved player at City this season?

CW: It's between Sterling and Aymeric Laporte – but I'd say Laporte. Sterling was amazing last season – look at his numbers! As an overall player he has improved but Laporte has gone from seriously good to world class so I'd put his improvement at the top of the list.

CC: Do you expect City to buy anymore players in January and if so in which positions?

CW: Guardiola has said NO signings despite a new defensive midfielder being needed. City are close to signing USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen though - so it looks like they will spend but unless Pep was lying then no major signings.

CC: What players are currently injured for City?

CW: De Bruyne, Mendy and Bravo are definitely out. Bernardo Silva, Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus missed Tuesday's draw with Lyon but Guardiola sounded very hopeful they will be back to face Bournemouth.


CC: How well is Mahrez fitting in at City?

CW: He started slow – then really improved and has now settled in but is still having the odd stinker. I'd say he is still a WIP (work in progress) and inconsistent, but overall has improved since his early games.

CC: Leroy Sane has begun to get some starts, do you think his call up for Germany has given him fresh impetus?

CW: Missing out on the World Cup seemed to have an effect on Leroy, then Guardiola didn't use him much in the infancy of the season. Now he's really performing most weeks and absolutely devastated West Ham last weekend! He looks motivated.

CC: Are City fans thinking of only of the Liverpool home match as the game that could pretty much seal the title, or do you see Spurs and Chelsea as still being in the title race?

CW: I don't want to sound too overconfident - but I can only see Liverpool challenging at this point. They are stubbornly persistent in keeping up. Chelsea are good but Morata is an average forward and their results have become inconsistent. Spurs are missing squad depth and should've spent last summer.

CC: Man City played Lyon this week before playing AFCB, so what line up do you think Guardiola will pick to face Bournemouth?

CW: My prediction is, assuming the three injured come back: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Laporte, Delph, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus

City play Watford a few days after so Guardiola has to make some changes.

CC: What is your score prediction for the game?

CW:  Looking at the head-to-head, it's hard to look beyond a City win despite Bournemouth's improvement and impressive league position. I'll go 3-0 to City.

CC: There is no doubting that City are strong favourites to beat AFCB at the Etihad. I can see why Dean fancies their chances of a 3-0 win and thank him for his answers. What we don't know is how much a win for AFCB could do for their season? It is pretty unthinkable, but those are the kind of odds that AFCB have always liked. Do take a look at City Watch for the latest news on Man City.

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Cherry Chimes' December Newsletter brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month. It's out tomorrow with special story - The Cherries are ripe for picking.

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Thursday, 29 November 2018

Enjoyment of the game is what AFCB need to recapture

This week it would be easy to get hung up about the indifferent run that AFCB have suddenly found themselves on. But to take on probably the best team in the Premier League, Bournemouth need to enjoy the moment and acknowledge that they have a great chance to do something special in this games.

If Bournemouth can get on the training field and take encouragement by what they do this week rather than looking back, AFCB might find that their positive approach to the Etihad stadium could pay off. While the Cherries have never got close to Man City in an away game, they nearly took a point off them last season at Dean Court. 

Some of the verdicts on AFCB are still out. They may be among some of the best of the rest, but have they got it in them to really go into a game like this against City with the belief to shock the rest of the league. The players have to feel and sense that they are going to cause an upset for one to happen. I didn't feel that from the players when they were chasing Arsenal shirts last weekend, but a win against Man City would not only make up for that but it would make AFCB the talking point for several days.


Bournemouth have already had a lot of good press and have seen their players linked with possible moves, but if they can't beat the top teams then it is arguable that they are not yet ready to step up a level. In many respects, AFCB fans would be happy if the squad stays together. However, if the players can forget about the table for a moment and about the season as a whole just to concentrate on this one-off game and enjoy it for what it is, they might surprise themselves in what they can achieve.

If the players have faith in one another and go out to enjoy the game. They will be in a much better place to try and get a positive result.

How do AFCB stop Man City?

There is no easy solution to figuring out how to stop the creative play of Man City. Every team that has tried so far this season has come unstuck apart from Wolves and Liverpool, and City are scoring goals for fun at the moment.
AFCB have to be brave to hold off Man City.

We can look at the City side and see that even when they have players like de Bruyne and Mendy out ,they still have the reserves of international quality to fit snugly into the same system. Looking for a weakness is very difficult. So Howe may be less concerned with what he can do to combat the skill and technique of some of the world's best players, but  might instead just concentrate on what AFCB can do when they do get the ball.

Playing three across the centre of midfield may be the way Howe approaches this match. While Jefferson Lerma is out, Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook look like certain starters, but Surman could also be used to add more of a defensive structure to the midfield. Lerma would have been the perfect weapon against City as he breaks up play well. Without Arter, Bournemouth don't have another such player. Some have suggested Aké could be played in midfield and I wouldn't mind that idea, as Aké does read the game so well and can sense danger quickly.
With one playing up front it is a hard workload for the striker, and even though King is back and could play as a loan striker, I suspect that Howe will want to play two strikers in this game. Giving Man City something to think about is a plus point. and Bournemouth lplay best when they try to express themselves.

Whatever Eddie Howe tries, he knows that this is a one-off game that will be like no other in the Premier League for his players. The fact that Man City have had a couple of draws means they don't always find top form, and a defeat is likely to come at some point. Bournemouth's players should be looking at making it as difficult a game as possible for Guardiola and who knows they might be the ones to tumble the City home record with a bit of good fortune.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

How do Bournemouth start getting over the line?

The recent defeats for the Cherries have left a disappointing cloud over such a great start to the season. But if anyone knows how to get Bournemouth out of a dip in results it is Eddie Howe. From the post-match interviews, I get the impression that Howe is not going to dwell too much on the result against Arsenal, as there are so many games in December that will either keep Bournemouth in the top 10, or have fans thinking about the teams trying to get on even terms with the Cherries.
How to get back to winning ways?
Scoring first has suddenly become more of a challenge and it is no coincidence that when Bournemouth have not scored first they have found it more difficult to get something out of the games. It did appear that Bournemouth had set themselves up well for a recovery in the second half against Arsenal, but there was not enough quality in the last third to get in front.

The change in formation in the second half with the substitutes started to bring some opportunities but Arsenal were the stronger team. Eddie has to work out away that his team can get the edge in these close matches without making a fatal mistake. We have seen it against Man United and Arsenal, and yet a draw in either game would not have been unrealistic looking at the performances.

How to get over the line is the conundrum. Bournemouth have the fire power on the bench to do more than they have before to win games, but perhaps better use of Mousset and Defoe in particular is something that Howe has to start considering when the games are in the balance. There is an understandable reluctance to take Callum Wilson off in games, but it would help the confidence of Defoe to start getting some minutes in the last quarter of games.

Josh King can net over 15 goals this season

Like many Bournemouth fans, I was pleased to see Josh King's name on the team sheet for the Arsenal match. He works incredibly hard and is like having an extra man on the pitch. He has not had much time to train, but he has not lost his knack of scoring great goals.
King is hungry for more goals.
To score against Arsenal is usually the reserve of Callum Wilson. The ball didn't really fall for Callum though in this recent match like it did for Josh. What I was impressed with is that when Brooks made the pass to set king up for Bournemouth's goal, it was clear that King was going to hit the target. King just thrives on being given the ball early and has confidence that he can make a shot that will make the keeper work.

While Bournemouth have scored in their previous match against Newcastle and Man Utd, the team needs both King and Wilson to be getting among the goals if AFCB are going to get into the top 10 this season. I don't see either Callum or Josh minding too much who is top dog if they both get over 15 goals or more this season. I would expect Josh to may be get there first though, if he remains on penalty duties. One stat that Josh now has with this latest goal is 35 Premier League goals in his four seasons which is 10 more than any other AFCB player and yes, Wilson is next on 25 goals.

While the team lost against Arsenal, Josh's personal game was fairly strong. He didn't do much wrong all game and he can take that into the Man City game feeling good about himself. The rest for the last few weeks could also do him and AFCB a lot of good with the heavy month of December now ahead of the players. These games can certainly put Josh well on the way to his goal target for this season.

Daily Mail Fans' Verdicts: AFCB v Arsenal

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Small margins are costing AFCB

Eddie Howe spoke of small margins costing the Cherries against Arsenal. There was not a lot in the game, but it was Arsenal that found the cutting-edge to win the game. The second Arsenal goal was perhaps the one that was most preventable, but the clever movement of Arsenal opened the space up for Iwobi and a who played Aubameyang in for the winner.
AFCB were out thought with a quickly taken free kick.
On another day, Bournemouth might have held out for a draw or even a win. The thickness of a post and the disallowed goal for David Brooks hurt the Cherries. While Eddie Howe commented it was the luck that just didn't fall for AFCB, there has to be a bit of annoyance knowing that Brooks' goal would have stood if VAR has been available.

The thing that Howe can take out of playing Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal is that only Chelsea have won by more than a goal against AFCB, and Bournemouth have scored in two of the three matches against these top six sides. The gap is perhaps closer, even if Bournemouth have had wins against such teams in the past, when they have snatched wins, despite having to defend for large parts of those games.


Losing to Arsenal by a single goal is no bad performance. Bournemouth have to try and take the positives from these defeats into their game against Man City, which will be the ultimate test. If the luck suddenly returns for the next match, Howe won't be complaining.

Lerma shouldn't worry about his own goal

Jefferson Lerma has a week off now having picked up his fifth yellow card against Arsenal. He will be a big miss against Man City, but a rest might do him well having had a heavy schedule since coming to AFCB. What I hope he does not do is reflect on his own goal too deeply.
Jefferson was trying his best to defend when he scored Arsenal's oopening goal.
Lerma was unfortunate to steer his attempted clearance so precisely past Begovic in the Bournemouth goal for Arsenal to take the lead. I could not believe how well he connected with the ball and blasted it past Begovic. It was the kind of thing that you might expect to happen in training, once in a while, but in match situations you don't often see own goals hammered past your own keeper often.

Arriving late in the box is often seen as a good thing for attackers, but for defenders it cane lead to more problems with deflections and attempts to make a block. Lerma might easily have saved the day rather than score nine times out of 10, but he would probably have been impressed with himself if he had finished like that at the other end of the pitch as it was such a well struck shot.

At the end of the season, Lerma's goal will be one that the team look back on and will probably tease him about it. It would be too raw to do that now though. Jefferson gives everything in games, and it was great to hear the home crowd getting behind him. His performance was unaffected by the goal and he almost made up for it in the second half when he hit the post.

Hopefully, Lerma just relaxes by watching videos of Huddersfield Town and look to see how he can impose himself in that game. I wouldn't be surprised if we see an even bigger performance from him in that match, but hopefully no more own goals!

Monday, 26 November 2018

No magic comeback against the Arsenal for Cherries

Bournemouth have often been praised for their comebacks at Dean Court. There was the possibility of another on Sunday against Arsenal, having already got the score back to 1-1, but the second half against Arsenal did not build to a big finish with Bournemouth grabbing a late equaliser and perhaps the energy just fell away a little in this big game.
Eddie Howe looks back on a home defeat.
While Bournemouth have only had one success against Arsenal in previous Premier League meetings, this match was an opportunity to land three points or at least a draw, when looking at the players Arsenal sent out onto the field. Looking at no Lacazette in the team, and Ozil on the bench, AFCB's players should have been excited at the prospect of a win, but they didn't have quite the same tigerish attitude to get at Arsenal like they had done with Man Utd.

Still, Bournemouth battled and tried to take the fight to Arsenal. Lerma was everywhere and yet his energy didn't rub off on others. While Begovic looked fairly comfortable, he couldn't do anything about the goals that beat him. It would be down to AFCB's attackers to get something from the game, but I felt both Wilson and Fraser had relatively quiet games by their standards. Perhaps that is to be expected after the busy weeks that they have had on international duty, and something that we are going to have to get used to as fans.

Mounting comebacks takes a lot of effort, and I wondered if Stanislas would be the man that would add that spark when he came on. Junior couldn't deliver a hefty blow though this time even if he might have done right at the end, or with an earlier chance when he couldn't sort his feet out quickly enough to hit a powerful shot.

Bournemouth kick themselves in 1-2 Arsenal defeat

Match Report
AFCB 1 v 2 Arsenal
25 November 2018
Attendance: 10,792
The two teams come out on to the pitch.
Bournemouth were left feeling sorry for themselves again as a Jefferson Lerma own goal and an Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang second half winner condemned Bournemouth to their third defeat in a row. The Cherries have not taken any points off the three top six sides they have played this season, and this defeat was somewhat self-inflicted with Lerma's opening goal at the wrong end. Yet, Lerma was Bournemouth's best player for me and had one of their second half efforts from Stanislas, Daniels or Lerma have beaten Leno in Arsenal's goal it would have been a fair result. Bournemouth's luck seems at a low ebb at the moment and results that were coming thick and fast have disappeared of late.

AFCB and Arsenal get ready to play.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

Eddie Howe made three changes with Ibe dropping out of the squad and Adam Smith unable to play for three months, while Lewis Cook was moved to the bench. In came Josh King, Dan Gosling and Charlie Daniels.

The first half began as might have been expected with Bournemouth using Callum Wilson and Josh King to attack the heart of Arsenal's defence. Jefferson Lerma was quick to block Mkhitarayan's early shot, while Bournemouth's Josh King over hit his first cross.

Simon Francis did well against Kolsinac and enabled Brooks to stretch his legs before Wilson won Bournemouth's first corner on seven minutes. Brooks and King then played a one-two that put Brooks through and while he burst the net, the offside flag went up.

Francis made a poor pass from defence and Lucas Torreira benefited only to see his shot come off the post on nine minutes. Torreira wide from the right side of Bournemouth's box as Arsenal began to get some sighters.

The Cherries were looking good going forward with Fraser finding Wilson, who had a shot blocked. Brooks tried his luck on the left with Daniels, while Lerma was getting strong tackles in on Mkhitarayan in the middle.

With Arsenal coming forward Rob Holding's aimless pass which ran out of play had Bournemouth fans cheering. Kolsinac was getting crosses in and Iwobi made Begovic make a low save on 21 minutes. Kolsinac had another cross pushed over the bar by Begovic, but Aubameyang fired over from the resulting corner.

Papastathopoulos' foul on King received the first yellow card. Brooks took the free kick rather quickly and it had to be retaken with Fraser then pulling a save out of Leno.

Arsenal's next attack with Kolsinac down the left made the break through when Lerma rushing back connected too well with Kolsinac's cross volleying it straight past Begovic for an own goal on 30 minutes.

Bournemouth recovered with Francis sending King up the right and forcing a corner. Arsenal were looking to break again though and Begovic had to make another save from Iwobi.

A free kick on King gave Fraser another chance to deliver a cross in the box saw Aké head just over the top right corner of the goal. Bellerin was testing Bournemouth's left side and his pull back was headed out by Francis before Mkhitarayan shot over. The Arsenal number seven had another low shot saved by Begovic.

A minute of added time played into Bournemouth's hands when Wilson burst up the left and crossed to Brooks who then passed on again to King who fired straight into the top left corner of the goal to make it 1-1.
Second half
Bournemouth attacked from the start with Brooks putting in a cross that Leno caught.  Fraser went down in the box but no penalty was awarded. 

Nathan Aké picked up a yellow card for fouling Mustafi before Arsenal won a corner. A great cross from Fraser then saw Brooks and Daniels come close to making the final connection but the ball zipped away just too quickly.

Torreira had a shot deflected for a corner as Arsenal regained the initiative. Arsenal started winning corners. Aubameyang could only shoot over from the corner.

Josh King battled well in the corner before Brooks tried to shoot across Leno who saved the shot.

Arsenal then retook the lead when Lerma had made a foul on Mustafi and was carded. The ball went out to the left and a deep cross from Kolsinac found Aubameyang free to stab in at the far post - 1-2.

An Arsenal break left Aubameyang in the clear and putting Torreira in with a chance to shoot but Begovic came out and the Arsenal player missed.

Bournemouth kept plugging away with Fraser having a shot held, before Brooks was subbed fir Stanislas and Lewis Cook replaced Gosling on 73 minutes.

Kolasinac could have increased the lead but could only hit the side netting. Arsenal then subbed  Torreira for Guendouzi on 79 minutes. 

Stanislas was presented with a great chance to score when a Daniels cross landed at his feet near the penalty spot but the shot was weak and right at Leno.

Arsenal took Iwobi off and brought on Ramsey for the last 10 minutes. Bournemouth weren't finished yet though and a speculative shot from Lerma crashed against the post from 30 yards out.

Another Bournemouth attack followed with Stanislas on the right bearing down on goal, but he could only shoot at Leno with Wilson following in and colliding with Leno.

A corner taken by Fraser then saw Daniels go close with a header that deflected up and Leno just kept out topping it round the corner.

Arsenal brought Nkeitah on in added time fro Aubameyang. Bournemouth's last chance came when Mustafi fouled Wilson on the D. Stanislas took the free kick after Daniels had tried in vain to force himself into the wall. The shot went well over and the final whistle was blown.
Another home defeat 1-2.
Bournemouth had their chances to get points from this game. Arsenal didn't play all their big hitters and perhaps Bournemouth didn't quite have the belief that they needed to go and play without any fear of defeat. The goal by Josh King at half-time should have fired-up the team for the second half, but it was a rear-guard reaction for the second 45 minutes, even if the Cherries had some chances on the break. It was another what might have been. Had Brooks' first half attempt been ruled onside, it could have been a very different game. Now Bournemouth have to regroup again and find that early-season freedom of play which we see in parts of games but not for the full 90 minutes.

AFCB subs: Boruc, Mings, Gosling, Stanislas, Surman, Mousset, Defoe.
AFCB Ratings
Begovic 6, Francis 5, Aké 6, S Cook 6, Daniels 6, Brooks 7, Gosling 5, Lerma 8, Fraser 6, King 7, Wilson 6

Ref Watch - Craig Pawson: 1/10 Not sure what he was doing half the time. The players and crowd had no confidence in him.

Leno, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Holding, Bellerín, Torreira (Guendouzi 79), Xhaka, Kolasinac, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi (Ramsey 80), Aubameyang (Nketiah)

Arsenal Subs
Cech, Elneny, Ramsey, Özil, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Nketiah

Sunday, 25 November 2018

AFCB can set up a win in the first 45 minutes against Arsenal

Arsenal have an unenviable record of not being ahead in any of their Premier League games by half time and yet they have managed to rack up seven wins from their 12 matches, and have only been beaten by Chelsea and Man City. Unai Emery has shaped Arsenal into a team that relishes a fight back, but their slow starts could be their undoing against AFCB.
Arsenal were beaten 2-1 last time at Dean Court.
Against Leicester, Arsenal managed to win having gone a goal down but they could only muster a draw against Wolves having conceded first. Even Fulham, who Arsenal swept aside 5-1 went into their match level at half-time. So if Eddie Howe can engender his players to come out with the kind of start they made against Man United, in their last home match and take their chances, Bournemouth could find themselves out of sight by half-time against Arsenal.

Catching Arsenal cold is surely what Bournemouth will aim to do. For all the praise for the way Aubameyang has been scoring goals (seven so far) and the forward play of Ozil (three goals) and Lacazette (five goals), there is a weakness about Arsenal's defence, which has let in 15 goals, only one less than AFCB. Arsenal have also only managed two clean sheets. Kolasinac has come in for most of the criticism, while Petr Cech has been replaced by Bernd Leo in goal. The midfield performances of Iwobi and Xhaka have also not found top gear this season and with big games for Arsenal to play against Spurs and Man United next, the Bournemouth match is perhaps a last chance for some of these players to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be starting in a Unia Emery team.


So Arsenal come to Dean Court with confidence in going on an unbeaten run, but knowing that they have found defeats when they have played other teams in the top six. Wolves gave them a scare in their last outing on home turf and playing away at AFCB is likely to be a bigger test for Arsenal. They also pay Bournemouth at perhaps a moment when Eddie Howe is desperate to get back to winning ways after the Cherries' recent defeats. 

Possible AFCB line up
AFCB Subs: Boruc, Mings, Gosling, Surman, Ibe, Stanislas, Defoe

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Bournemouth's start will disappear if they can't get points off the big teams

The Premier League table will close up pretty fast for the Cherries if they don't start to build on their points total with some results against the big teams. It doesn't get easy for Eddie Howe having to plan a way to beat two of the top six in consecutive games, but that is the level that AFCB are now at. Beating Arsenal is no longer such a massive hurdle but a game that the Cherries can go into with some belief after their start to the season.
The start of the season is over, can AFCB build on their good start?
We have seen some great performances by some of the players that have been away on international duty like David Brooks, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. Bournemouth's players are now starting to look more at home in matches against top quality sides, and for them to keep improving they now need to show they can take their A game to the best in the league and beat them.

While individuals are doing well, AFCB have been kept in check with their last two results. This is now a much bigger game for the players to get back on track. It would reassert the belief that they can get a result against any team. The cushion that AFCB had over the other clubs in the top 10 has been diminished. If they can keep pace with Arsenal, Spurs and the like it would be unexpected, but I believe it is possible.


The gap between the best teams and AFCB is financial, historical and in the fanbases. But on the field the gap is only as big as the players want it to be in the heads. They have to play the game against Arsenal like they are playing a cup final. These are games that should be easy to get excited about, and they can only truly be enjoyed if the Cherries can get a win and add to the good start that they have made.

AFCB TV match preview

Arsenal Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Arsenal press conference

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Try and guest the correct score for Bournemouth v Arsenal and Tweet your answer to @CherryChimes before 8am on Sunday. We will pick a winner from those who predict the correct score.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Will AFCB's left side be able to cope against Arsenal?

The injury to Adam Smith has given Eddie Howe a moment to consider whether to bring in another player at left back or to abandon four at the back and play again with a back three. There has not been much time for Charlie Daniels or Diego Rico to get games in and against Arsenal Howe will need to know that the left side of the defence is up to the job.
Will Daniels play left-back or wing back?
While new recruits David Brooks and Jefferson Lema have had good runs in the first team, it has not been easy for Diego Rico to have a similar impact. Rico's last outing was against Burnley when he was hauled off at half time, having been given the run around by Lennon. Considering that Arsenal's wing play will be a step up again with Mezut Ozil perhaps on the right, Diego may find he has some way to go before coming into Howe's thoughts again. But he must try and show in training that he can battle Charlie Daniels and show he has what it takes to get crosses in and fight for a place.

Daniels is also under pressure having missed a few games and the injury to Adam Smith may not be a simple ticket for him back into the starting 11. Against the best teams it has been helpful to play three centre-backs and Daniels may find that his best chance of playing is as a wing back in a five-man midfield. I think this role suits Charlie more than being an out and out full-back, as it is the attacking side of Daniels' game that has always been his best attribute.

Keeping the likes of Ozil out of the game is also going to depend on AFCB's left wing-back tracking back, Daniels is going to have to be on his game if he is selected.