Thursday, 30 April 2020

Who will be AFCB's goal saviour?

The task of saving Bournemouth from relegation will fall heavily on all the players, but the biggest pressure will surely be on the strikers. They are the players that will need to score the goals to win games, and this time there is no second chance. Bournemouth either have the goal scorers or they will fall short.
Callum - this can be is moment.
The team will automatically look towards Callum Wilson as the main man. He has perhaps had one of his weaker seasons in the Premier League, but he is capable of getting on a goal run, and AFCB will need him to do just that when the games resume. Callum has been focussed when Bournemouth have been up against the odds in the past, but if he gets the goals to stave off relegation his value will rise significantly. I believe he has the ability to rise to the occasion, and if the team need anyone to be at the very top of their game when they do come back, it is Callum.

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While Callum will want to take responsibility for much of the goal scoring, Bournemouth will also rely heavily on Josh King and Ryan Fraser. The Cherries have not seen as many penalties as they might this season, but King needs to be practicing like mad not at slotting away those 12m shots. At least he can do that with a set of goal posts in isolation. Repetition is capable of making an task easier, and King like Fraser will want to get familiar with hitting the back of the net. It is worrying that Fraser has only felt that scoring thrill once this season, but he could leave AFCB having known he was part of the reason why they staved off relegation this season. It's going to be hard for Fraser just to snap into form, but he has this time to focus on the task and regain his belief.

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While we could see goals from Harry Wilson as well helping the team, it may be down to David Brooks to really be the secret weapon in the remaining games. While Brooks has hit great heights in the Premier League, he is still probably one of the players in our team that has had the least games against other Premier League opposition, 30 in all. Some teams won't have worked him out totally yet, and that could give him the advantage over others to get those all important goals.

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Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Will AFCB feel pressured to train soon with other teams already starting?

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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Will AFCB feel pressured to train soon with other teams already starting?

This week we have seen the likes of Arsenal, West Ham, Brighton and Spurs all deciding that their players need to start returning to the training grounds. But others like Watford's Chairman have said it is too soon, and the players that are able to train at their club's training ground are only able to do personal training on their own. Where does this leave AFCB?
Do AFCB have to start asking their players to come in to train at Kings Park?
TalkSport did a survey on club's positions and with Kings Park closed off to recreation it doesn't look like AFCB are easily going to get a go ahead to get back to their training ground. But will other teams gain an advantage by getting back in the groove earlier? They may do and it may make little difference, but once one looks like they are benefitting, other clubs will want to follow like sheep. I suspect Bournemouth will ask to start up training again, if more than half of the Premier League clubs are doing this.

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At the end of the day, nobody wants to get left behind, and the league is so competitive that the owners have to be seen to be giving their teams the best chance of having a good finish if the league resumes. Bournemouth might look most closely at the other bottom five clubs. With Brighton and West Ham already looking to start up their training, it may be thought that the Cherries wont want too many others around their league place starting up before them. Yet, the club may be more concerned with the teams they still have to play and how quickly they return, one of which is Spurs.


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Whatever AFCB decide it has to be what is the best decision for them and their players. The club has to see how much training the players are doing in self-isolation and whether they could do more if thy are in a big field, not far from their team-mates. Is it psychologically good to be around fellow players? Probably yes, but once players go back, they have to make sure they can do something worthwhile on the training ground or the players will soon tire of having to go in if they can't train fully as a team.

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In other news, France has postponed its football and major sporting events until September, effectively ending any chance for Ligue 1 resuming this season. The Bundesliga (Germany) is looking to start behind closed-doors in June and La Liga (Spain) is set to restart training on 4 May. Meanwhile, Fifa's Chief Medical doctor, Michel d'Hooghe, has also warned that football should not try to restart too early.

Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Is Jack Stacey ready to dominate AFCB's right-back position?

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Is Jack Stacey ready to dominate AFCB's right-back position?

While Simon Francis still has days when he is happy to fill in at his old right-back position, there is a new king in town and he is called Jack Stacey. Simon Francis may hope to still get games at centre-half, but his time of flying down the right wing are probably over. AFCB have adequate cover with Adam Smith and Jack Stacey, and now it looks like Jack Stacey is going to be the player to dominate at right-back for some time to come.
Jack Stacey can make the right-back spot his own.
I wasn't too sure about how Stacey was getting on when he first came to AFCB. He was stepping up two leagues and he had a lot to learn very quickly. But in recent games he has been pretty much outstanding, when he has played, and he has become an excellent first-time crosser of the ball, which is starting to bring him assists.

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Even so, Stacey has only made 12 league appearances this season. It has been a transition season for him where he has started to get used to the pace and physicality of the top league. Now he looks more in control and assured in his game, and his first thought is usually to try and get forward in support. Eddie Howe has already started to mould him into an attacking right-back, and the omens are good for Stacey to see further improvement.
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He reads the line well and is usually not the player to be caught out by keeping a player on side. His speed is good enough to get back when he has been caught out and he keeps things simple. Stacey is probably AFCB's best signing since David Brooks, and it demonstrates that Bournemouth can still find players in League One, and the Championship, who can take less than a season to step their game up to the top level.



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In other news, a night of celebration was epic to relive on AFCB's YouTube channel on Monday with the replay of AFCB v Bolton Wanderers from 2015, and the knowledge that Premier League football was pretty much guaranteed with just a game to play.

Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Is Stanislas a player likely to leave AFCB?

Monday, 27 April 2020

Is Stanislas a player likely to leave AFCB?

I have been a big fan of Junior Stanislas. I like his nimble feet and his desire to go at defences. But even I have to admit he just doesn't play enough games. and every season is a battle to get him fit. He is one of those players who just seems to be unlucky when it comes to injuries. At the age of 30 I wonder if Junior is going to be able to play out his playing years at AFCB.

Junior has made less appearances in 2019-20 than any other season he has been at AFCB.
This season Junior has managed six appearances in the league and of his four shots two have been on target. Stanislas is a player who is good at working the keeper, and that is why I think Eddie Howe has always been reluctant to let Stanislas go.

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Compared to the 2018/19 season though, AFCB haven't got much value from Stanislas in this current season. In 2018/19 he made 23 appearances, scored a couple of goals and was on the winning side eight times. There were 19 appearances in 2017-18 for hime and 21 appearances in AFCB's second Premier league season of 2016-17 when he scored seven goals. Even in the 2015-16 season, he managed 21 appearances and three goals.
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Somehow AFCB need Stanislas as an option. If he is fit, he has an impact and I haven't even mentioned the assists he makes. But have AFCB seen the best of Stanislas? It is likely that he has had his best seasons behind him. It is clear though that Eddie Howe doesn't push players on that quickly when their time could be up, unless he has problems with them in attitude or effort. Stanislas is a trier and as such I think he may yet be around for a couple of more seasons. We just need him to spend more of that time on the pitch, which is going to be tough for him with the likes of David Brooks vying for the right-wing starting place. As a sub though, I still think Stanislas has a part to play in games and could be a great player to bring on for set-pieces.

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Previous post on Cherry ChimesMoney before reason for quick Premier League return

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Money before reason for quick Premier League return

Although talks have been taking place behind closed doors about when the Premier League could return, according to The Sun newspaper, I can't see there being anything but big risks if it does return as soon as 8 June, as has been proposed. Playing behind closed doors is still going to mean some 250 people being tested each game, and the safety of players, the police and ball boys etc is still going to be at risk.
It will be a long time before we see handshakes for sure.
To me it talks of money being put before the lives of many. We all want football back, but like Georgie Bingham on TalkSport, I don't really think it can be done safely while social distancing is in place. What choice to the players have in this matter? I suspect none at all. It will be down to the Premier League and Chief Executives or Chairman if each club to say of they can play or not, and there will be pressure put on everybody to go along with it.

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However this season is completed it will always be a season that has been disrupted and for that reason is not going to be a totally true reflection of what might have happened, if games had bot been postponed. We can pretend that playing behind closed-doors makes little difference, but we all know it will take some teams more time than others to get a good feeling about that situation. The winners will be those who adapt quickest to this new non-atmosphere football. But there will be a bitter taste for the losers.

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Of course, if the Premier League goes ahead there will be mounting pressure from the English football league to play out their remaining games. How easy will it be to allow all clubs to complete their fixtures? If it is difficult for the Premier League it is going to be even harder for the lower leagues, who just don' have big operating budgets. Will their safety be as tight as the barriers that will be put in place by the Premier League?


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My big worry in all this is that the fans will just have to lump it, whatever is decided. Fans won't be able to travel to games, or cheer on their team. Perhaps they will be able to see it on terrestrial TV, but what happens for those TV companies that have exclusive rights? The whole thing is quite a mess and with players contracts running out on 30 June, I wonder how much of the general chatter is more desperation knowing that the time has pretty much run out to get football back. The Dutch league has already abandoned the season and if more leagues go that way, questions will be asked over the safety of any attempt to try and resurrect the game before social distancing has been removed.

Previous post on Cherry Chimes  – Is Howe right to play Adam Smith on the left ahead of Rico?

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Is Howe right to play Adam Smith on the left ahead of Rico?

Eddie Howe's player selections some times raise eyebrows, but we are getting used to some of them. One I always wonder about is the choice of selecting Adam Smith in the left-back slot, when his preferred position is right-back. I am sure any player would rather play out of position than not at all, but does it really give AFCB a boost to do this?

Ready to go on the left, but Adam really that good at left-back?
Adam Smith has been one of he injury victims and it is possible that Eddie has just been trying to get his appearances back up after such a long time off. Smith has accumulated 18 appearances and has four wins under his belt. His crossing is higher than one a game at 21 and his passes average out at 36 a game. Where he does score highly is in duels won at 109 and a tackle success of 70 per cent.

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When Adam is switched to the left it has been Diego Rico that has missed out. Still Rico has played in 21 games and has been involved in six of AFCB's seven wins. You might have considered him a good omen then, but Howe has not always picked Rico to start when he has been available. What I like about Rico is he gets forward and he has a staggering count of a 122 crosses from his 21 games and averages 40.81 passes per game. Rico has also made 62 interceptions compared to Smith's 19.

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At this point it already looks that Rico is ahead of Adam Smith. But where Smith out does Rico is on the tackling front. Rico has 92 duels won and a tackle success rate of 62 per cent. I find it hard on these stats though to see why Adam Smith should get the left-back spot over Rico, unless Howe is looking to be more defensive in games. By trying to make the team more solid at the back, it has lost something going forward and of course the best balance for AFCB has been Charlie Daniels. Without Daniels it has been perhaps too much trial and error at left-back and maybe Rico should have been given a few more games.

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Friday, 24 April 2020

Why has Solanke found it so hard to score?

I don't assume that scoring Premier League goals is easy. You have to beat the best defenders and goalkeepers in the world. They are professionals. They work hard to stop attackers, but as a Premier League striker you have to have something about you - a cocky arrogance if you like. So, has Dominic Solanke got that in his armour and what does he need to start scoring goals at this level for AFCB?
When will Solanke hit the back of the net?
I have been looking at Solanke's stats. They show that he has had some opportunities, perhaps more than I had suspected, even if some appearances will have been quite brief. So far he has made 24 appearances this season for the Cherries in the league, but his contribution has been minor with just an average of 13 passes per match. This indicates that the time on the pitch for him hasn't been long. But what did take me by surprise is how unlucky he has been when you consider that he has had 22 shots and five of them have been on target.
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What does not read so well is that he has had four missed big chances to score in 2019-20. I thought it might all be about getting that first goal for AFCB but he did that against Luton in the FA Cup, and we haven't seen much more of Dominic since then. While Callum Wilson and Josh King have dominated the forward positions, I do think that Solanke hasn't had enough time to make a partnership with either one of them. He has been a lone striker if you like and I don't think that has helped him at all.

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It may be that Josh King moves on this summer and that will open the gate for Solanke and perhaps Sam Surridge to see who can support Callum Wilson best. But while Eddie Howe may be willing to take his time in seeing Solanke make the grade, I do wonder what it is doing to Solanke's self-confidence. Has he got a killer instinct in him? Perhaps he shows it in training, but for the fans to get more behind him we need to see more on the pitch and in my book, I think Sam Surridge is more likely to make a Premier League striker  than Solanke at the current rate of progress.
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In other news Philip Billing lost 4-2 in the EPL invitational Tournament to Neal Maupay of Brighton.



Thursday, 23 April 2020

Are Lerma and Billing the best central midfield choices for AFCB?

The season quickly got away from AFCB. The injuries have limited the choices that Eddie Howe has had, but Lerma has played 24 games and Philip Billing has racked up 27 appearances this season. Are these two players the best two central midfielders or the best combination for AFCB?
Lerma and Billing have been central pillars for AFCB in Howe's thinking.
I'd like to think that Eddie Howe knows his best team. He clearly has indicated by his selections that he values Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing as his best two central midfielders. But how good are these two players? Billing has had one goal and one assist, having had 29 shots, creating 12 crosses, four blocked shots, 88 clearances with 49 headed clearances and 59 interceptions, according to the Premier League stats.

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Compare this with Jefferson Lerma's record. He has one goal and two assists, with 21 shots, creating nine crosses, four blocked shots, 34 clearances, 22 headed clearances and 44 interceptions, according to his Premier League stats. It would appear by this that Billing is the stronger player in what he offers the team in performance stats and as a pair we might assume they are the top choices that Howe could make.

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But other players like Dan Gosling, Lewis Cook and Andrew Surman might have been hard done by. Dan Gosling, for example, has made just 16 appearances this season and yet he has two goals from his nine shots, although he has made just one cross. But his 20 clearances and eight headed clearances certainly start to rival Jefferson Lerma, although his interceptions are less than one a game at 12. Andrew Surman may have only made five appearances but three of those games AFCB have won, and he made three crosses in those five games, while his clearances are minimal at four and three headed clearances.

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Lewis Cook is an interesting one as may fans favour his attacking play. He has 20 appearances with 6 shots and one on target, but managed eight crosses and 14 clearances, eight clearances were headed and interceptions were at 15 which is well below the rate of Lerma and Billing. 

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Passing ratio and tackling are also big stats to look at but out on top come Lerma and Billing for passes per game Gosling makes 22.75 passes a game, Billing 37.7, Lerma 43.13, Cook 26.8 and Surman 25.4. On the tackling form, Gosling has a success rate of 34 per cent, Lerma 59 per cent, Billing a majestic 65 per cent, Lewis Cook 53 per cent, and Surman 50 per cent.
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It's striking to me that Billing has perhaps been a stronger player than I would have believed in 2019-20, and that the tackling of Dan Gosling, low clearances of Lewis Cook and passing ratio of Andrew Surman have perhaps held them back from being more front line choices ahead of Lerma and Billing.

There are many more stats you could look at and this is just a quick observation, but it also tells me that Lerma might not be as dominant a player as I would have expected him to be, even if his passing ratio is higher than most.

In other news, the replay of AFCB 4 v 3 Liverpool last night was joyous just to see Steve Cook's turn and volley to bring the scores level - does he every score ordinary goals? 

Previous post to Cherry Chimes - How fit can the Cherries be for the resumption of games?

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

How fit can the Cherries be for the resumption of games?

With some five weeks already passed since the last Premier League games and the players left to their fitness programmes, it won't escape anyone that it will be hard for the players to be ready to pick up on games as soon as the Premier League wants to resume. Listening to Dan Hodges, Head of Sport Science, on AFCBTV monitoring of the stats has become a touch more difficult.
Dan puts the players through their paces pre-COVID-19.
Dan himself admitted that the challenges include keeping in touch with the players. The Kitman app seems to be the easiest way that the club can keep tabs on what the players are doing, but with no team ball work the focus can only really be on fitness. I read that Burnley have put GPS trackers on their players to check what they are doing.

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I like the idea of the challenges for bike rides and having leader boards to add some competitiveness into matters. Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the board and knowing AFCB they probably have some forfeits for players in those places.

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It seems like the uncertainty of things is really the enemy at the moment. If everyone had a goal to work to it would be a lot easier. But there is no end in sight and without a fixture timetable, I imagine there will come a point, no matter how professional the players are that they get a bit bored of the routines and will want to do something new.



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I don't think AFCB expect the players to be as fit as they would be having played a few matches, but if this is an extended pre-season it is vital that they come out of it in the best condition they can. While some might have big back gardens I imagine finding space could be awkward for some and local parks won't be good for players to visit to often where they are likely to be recognised. It's a tough time for players but I congratulate those that are sticking to their personal schedules.

In other news, it was good to hear Philip Billing progressed in the ePL invitation tournament beating the Saint's Angus Gunn 4-0. This is where we are with football now - it's thumbs and fingers only!

Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Who has the toughest run-in among the bottom six

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Who has the toughest run in among bottom six?

Everyone admits there are no easy gams in the Premier League, but many are harder than others. For example AFCB have never managed to get a point off of Man City and it is one of their remaining games, so perhaps that cuts the Cherries down to eight games to count. But other teams also have tricky games with Liverpool among Aston Villa's remaining matches, Chelsea will line up against Watford and West Ham will take on Man United and Tottenham in some of their remaining fixtures. It's going to be tough and yet the fixture that jumps out in a lot of the remaining games is the name of Burnley, who may well have a deciding factor on who goes down.
AFCB have it all to do if the season resumes.
Luckily or not AFCB have already played Burnley twice and suffered the consequences. But Brighton, Watford and Norwich all have to go away to Sean Dyche's side and West Ham have to play them at the London Stadium. Of the teams that have to play the top six the most we can look least favourably on Brighton & Hove Albion, who have to face five of the big guns in their remaining fixtures. Bournemouth have four such fixtures as do Aston Villa, but Watford have only three as do West Ham, while Norwich have two such fixtures left. So getting results against top teams is going to be most important for Brighton and Bournemouth.
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There are several six pointer games as we like to call them as well. Bournemouth are not in those having played all their games against the bottom six. Southampton are the lowest team that Bournemouth will have to pay in the run-in. But AFCB fans will be watching carefully on games like Norwich v Brighton, Norwich v West Ham, West Ham v Watford, Watford v Norwich, West Ham v Aston Villa. Norwich are involved in three of these games as are West Ham indicating that their fates well may rest on these bottom six fixtures.

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However, you call it we can expect it to be a tight race with a few more twists and turns yet. The odds probably favour Watford, West Ham and Brighton to stay up, but four wins from Bournemouth would very likely be enough to keep them. However, adding the points from these games last season to AFCB's potential total, from their remaining fixtures this season, is not good news. This time around we could expect something like eight points from these games. which may not be enough to beat the drop.
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For me the best fixture list in the run-in is probably Norwich's run of games, but they are playing catch up and may well have to much to do now. After that'I'd probably go for West Ham and Watford's fixtures, leaving Brighton, Bournemouth and Aston Villa with some less attractive fixtures to try and stay up. But who knows what might happen and even if these games will be played out.

In other sad news, Dickie Dowsett, former AFCB striker and commercial manager passed away at 88 on Sunday. Dickie's head features as the iconic figure on the AFCB crest to this day and is the sixth-highest all time goal scorer for AFCB. AFCB has Dickie's obituary on the website and The Bournemouth Echo also has a good piece on Dickie.

Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Has Gosling got a big season left in him

Monday, 20 April 2020

Has Gosling still got a big season left in him?

I have always liked Dan Gosling. I thought he could have become a big midfield star and made the England full team squad, but he never quite managed it. That hasn't stopped him from enjoying his football and he has found a real home on the south coast having played 138 games for the Cherries, he only played 24 games for Newcastle and 22 for Everton.

Gosling has been a strong option for Eddie Howe in central midfield.
Although Gosling has had to battle for a place against Bournemouth's other central midfielders, there always comes a point in the season when he becomes the main man and comes up with a super goal or two. Why he can't keep that form going for longer periods is probably why he hasn't always been an automatic pick to star, but when Gosling is on the field, I always know that he will have a go at goal if he gets himself in a good position.

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Dan is another of the squad members at AFCB who can come in and do a job when needed. At, 30 now he may have peaked and might be starting to find 90 minutes harder to do, but Eddie has bought in Philip Billing to do the majority of that work. Whether that means Dan feels like he is being pushed out or not, he doesn't seem to give any less when puts on the shirt.
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This season Gosling has made 16 appearances and came up with that special goal at Chelsea away. In fact, he seems to like scoring against Chelsea, or should it be London clubs in general? For while he bagged a goal a couple of seasons back in the league cup against Chelsea, he also scored in December for a second time this season against Arsenal. Dan seems to play well when he gets a run of games, but they never seem to be that many before he gets injured.
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Dan is another player that AFCB will find harder to replace than might be suspected at first. He is a good fill in player that takes the weight off of some of the other players and he is an intelligent player who isn't afraid to get stuck in when it gets feisty. This season he'll probably be most remembered for his spat with Jon Moss in the Sheffield United away match. Gosling wears his heart on his sleeve. He wants to win and Bournemouth will need him during the final nine games of this season if it is played to a finish.

Previous post on Cherry Chimes - What chance of an early Premier League resumption?

Sunday, 19 April 2020

What chance of an early Premier League resumption?

I have no doubt that the authorities will do all they can to try and get the Premier League season completed. But I just hope they don't make a fiasco of it by playing behind closed doors and ramming it into five weeks. That is the preferred plan though by the sounds of the outcome of the recent Premier League meeting, which has pencilled in a hopeful start date of 8 June 2020 as a best case scenario, as reported by SkySports.

When will we see something like this again?
The game won't be the same no matter how the league continues. If games do resume in June it will be an intense period with the fate of AFCB among other clubs hanging by a thread. But I feel that clubs like Bournemouth will be at a disadvantage of we have to play behind closed doors. The Bournemouth fans do give the team an extra man and the players respond to their presence and singing. But a resumption of some kind has to be better than halting the season now and taking the league positions as final and seeing AFCB relegated on goal difference without kicking another ball.
The Premier League will meet again on 1 May to reassess the situation of COVID-19, but the date of 30 June is the one that looms large with players contracts ending. It's a deadline that isn't going to shift, and if things aren't settled by the end of June I can only see the season being abandoned if players remove their service with their contracts coming to an end.
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The solutions will be worked out by much more clever individuals than me, but being fair is going to be very difficult. The pressure will only mount as we get into the summer months and every week when the government extends the lockdown, there is more doubt on whether the season will be completed at all.

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Previous post on Cherry Chimes - Is Boruc a top keeper trainer in waiting?
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