Monday, 5 August 2019

Steve Cook is back and so are the clean sheets

Steve Cook finally got a run out after his long-term groin injury on Saturday. To see him line up next to Nathan Aké again will have given a lot of pleasure to Eddie Howe who is still waiting for Simon Francis to recover from his cruciate ligament injury. The importance of Cook is not just that he is so familiar with being paired with Nathan Aké at centre-back, but the fact that he is a leader and the captain on the pitch while Francis is unavailable.
Steve Cook returns
Playing Olympic Lyons should be a step up from what the Cherries will face against Sheffield United next weekend. No disrespect to the Blades, but they are not a team who will be in the Champions League next season. While Bournemouth were at home, Howe would have expected Aké and Cook to have been really stretched against Lyons' forwards. But the good positioning and tackling of Cook and Aké helped the team gets its clean sheet. Cook was barking out the orders and choosing where the defenders stood when the back line needed organisation. It was what the players are used to and the players looked settled and comfortable with Cook back in the side.

The thing that fans should be asking though is whether Bournemouth are going to concede less goals than last season? If the central two defenders are lining up again for the new season can we expect them to be better because they have another season behind them? Is it really the central defenders that led to most of the goals against AFCB last season? Eddie Howe looks to be satisfied that he can rely on Steve Cook to be the best partner for Aké. While Chris Mepham will surely play some games and will provide competition, it's Steve Cook that Eddie has always wanted to keep hold of and being one of the consistent factors in Bournemouth's success, it is hard for Howe to change his view. Perhaps he feels that it is in other areas where the goals need to be stopped.

Perhaps he is right in that more protection is needed for Steve Cook and Nathan Aké in front of him, and that Philip Billing will help provide that this season. New signings at right- and left-back will give a changed look to the team at some point this season, but I believe we can expect Steve Cook to be the first name on the team sheet for Bournemouth next weekend, next to Aké with Daniels and Adam Smith making up a rather familiar back four. 

In other news, Harry Arter seems destined to go on loan to Fulham reports the Bournemouth Echo with two years left on his contract. More worryingly, Man City a are eyeing up a move for Nathan Aké, reports the Sun and Leicester could also be in the picture for Steve Cook's centre-back partner.

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