AFC Bournemouth are Premier League newbies, but The Cherries will be hoping to do more than just make up the numbers, as they look to surpass the feats of Swindon Town, Blackpool and Barnsley and avoid instant relegation. Winning the Championship title with 90 points, Eddie Howe’s men played some of the most aesthetically pleasing football in the country and bring top flight football to Dorset for the first time.
Story of Last Season
Bournemouth pipped Watford to the title by a single point and were at the top of; if not near the summit, all season. Sublime performances such as an 8-0 thrashing of Birmingham City at St.Andrew’s, a 6-1 hammering of Blackpool in Lancashire as well as a 5-1 away victory against Fulham highlight how; when it comes together, the Bournemouth flair and attacking vivacity can put teams to the sword with great effect. The Cherries were the Championship top scorers with 98 strikes and also had the second tightest defence in the division with only 45 conceded. Dean Court, or as it is now known, the Vitality Stadium, may as well have been added to the Dorset tourist board’s list of local castles as it became somewhat of a fortress with Bournemouth only losing thrice on home soil. That said, despite losing two more games away from home, the red and blacks actually scored more goals on the road and equally conceded fewer. This freeing of the shackles when away from home may be unwise at some Premier League grounds next season, but the idea of continually picking up points at home is a must for the team formerly named Boscombe.
Tyrone Mings: Record signing Mings joins Bournemouth from Ipswich for a fee of £8 million. At 22 the 6ft5 defender has impressed many with his athleticism and has undoubted potential. Bournemouth will need Mings to step up sooner rather than later, transforming that potential into steady and high quality displays.
Sylvain Distin: At 37, Distin is everything that Mings is not. He adds over 450 games worth of Premier League experience, which could be very beneficial for Bournemouth’s inexperienced but talented defenders.
Artur Boruc: Boruc played on loan for The Cherries last season, and now his move west across the south coast is permanent. Capped 60 times by Poland, he also kept 9 clean sheets in 18 Bournemouth appearances before Christmas last year. Boruc looks odds on to start the season as number one.
Adam Federici: The Austrialian international Adam Federici joins from Reading where he was number one. He will look to push Boruc hard for the starting jersey, and this healthy competition will provide Eddie Howe with a positive selection dilemma.
Joshua King: King can play up front or on the wing, and the 23 year old has gained first team experience at Blackburn Rovers. Expect King to be a fringe player initially despite his £1 million price tag, but he could make an impact off of the bench in tight games and become more important to Howe’s side as the season wears on.
Christian Atsu: Atsu has 40 caps for Ghana, but has not held down a regular first team spot for any club bar two season loans at Rio Ave in Portugal and Vitesse in the Netherlands. A Chelsea-owned player, Atsu was on loan at Everton last season and showed spells of quality, but will nevertheless want to kick on this year in Dorset to prove himself.
Filippo Costa: Costa has played for Italy from U16 through to U20 level, and spent time last season on loan at Pisa in Serie B. The 20 year old defender joins Bournemouth for the year from Chievo Verona.
Callum Wilson: In recent days, Callum Wilson has brought a sigh of relief across Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas by putting pen to paper on a new four year contract. Wilson was signed from Coventry City in 2014 after being named in the 2013/14 League One team of the year, and netted 22 times in all competitions to secure that accolade. Wilson has since proved himself in England’s second tier, with a further 20 goals in the Championship to add to his name. Rumours were circulating and worrying Cherries fans that their star striker could be leaving, however this now seems much less likely and Wilson will be concentrating on his first season in the Premier League. At just 23 and with blistering pace, Wilson is a raw talent that Eddie Howe will hope catches top flight defences unaware.
Yann Kermorgant: Frenchman Kermorgant is in the twilight of his career aged 33, but is now ready for his top flight debut in the form of his life. After spending years plying his trade in the lower French divisions, Kermorgant got a move to then League One Charlton Athletic. Kermorgant and the Addicks won promotion together and he enjoyed a further two successful seasons at The Valley. Kermorgant has now hit over 40 goals across four seasons in the Championship and whilst described as a striker, plays as more of an attacking midfielder. He takes a mean free kick; as Brighton fans found out in the most recent south coast derby, and has even scored some spectacular scissor kicks. If he can continue to find the net in this manner, he will boost Bournemouth’s survival hopes immensely.
Tommy Elphick: Brighton born and Brighton and Hove Albion bred, centre back Elphick’s move from home town club to Bournemouth in 2012 now looks inspired. Elphick was appointed club captain at Dean Court and won The Daily Echo player of the season in 2012/13. Elphick started every league game last year and chipped in with a solitary goal. It is not his predatory instincts that make him a key man for Bournemouth, rather his solidarity and reading of the game. Elphick’s defensive mind set may be crucial for Bournemouth this season, and he is supported in defence by new signing and gentle giant Tyrone Mings.
Predicted line up
Eddie Howe is in his second spell as Bournemouth manager, after returning from Burnley in 2012. A Cherry legend in his own right just for his playing days (over 200 games between 1994 and 2002 and another half century between 2004 and 2007) Howe has now cemented his place in Bournemouth folklore by guiding them to the promised land of Premier League football. Maintaining a 50% win rate over 250 games is impressive in itself, especially when one considers the three promotions from League Two to the Premier League, and the football played by his sides along the way, all of which on a near shoe-string budget. Howe is well deserving of his LMA Manager of the Year for 2015 and his rising reputation in the game.
First Six Fixtures
- Aston Villa (H)
- Liverpool (A)
- West Ham United (A)
- Leicester City (H)
- Norwich City (A)
- Sunderland (H)
As starts go, this is by no means the worst baptism of fire that Cherries fans could have hoped for. Liverpool away in their second game is the only match up versus a “top six” side. In these six matches, the Cherries face fellow new boys Norwich, and Leicester who despite a late winning run, struggled for much of last year and are now without Nigel Pearson. Sunderland at home isn’t the toughest gig in the world, and Dean Court is sure to be rocking for the season opener versus Aston Villa. Taking into account tough trips to Anfield and Upton Park, I think Bournemouth will net 9 points from their first possible 18 – form that if maintained, is conducive to staving off relegation.
Final standing prediction
I believe that Bournemouth will finish the campaign in 17th and in the process secure themselves a second season of Premier League football. Without doubt there will be some hairy moments as the small but resilient squad will be tested in the richest league in the world, but momentum and no small degree of talent, from both players and manager will be enough to keep Bournemouth up. In simple terms, there are three worse teams in the division, two of which are the other promoted outfits. If Bournemouth do stay up, the financial implications may be that they can seriously strengthen this time next year and push on to bigger and better things. This could represent a footballing revolution on the south coast, with the Cherries ousting Portsmouth as Southampton’s main rivals in the region.
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