Bournemouth boosted their hopes of a top-half Premier League finish thanks to a 2-1 victory over Burnley.
Junior Stanislas had put the hosts ahead against his former club with a well-taken effort midway through the first half, before Sam Vokes, who graduated through Bournemouth’s academy system, looked to have snatched a point with an 83rd-minute equaliser.
But it was the in-form Joshua King who had the final word by netting the winner shortly afterwards to secure three points for the Cherries, who moved up to tenth spot as a result.
Here are three things we learned from a competitive encounter at the Vitality Stadium…
Cherries guarantee their highest ever league finish
Bournemouth’s efforts last season were largely overshadowed by Leicester City’s phenomenal achievement in winning the Premier League.
The Cherries, promoted as Championship champions, survived relatively comfortably against most expectations with 42 points. Many observers expected them to suffer ‘second season syndrome’ and struggle to maintain their top-flight status this time round.
While it has not been entirely plain sailing, Eddie Howe’s men have confounded the doubters once more. Ahead of their final fixture next weekend away to the Foxes, Bournemouth have surpassed last season’s points total with 45, which guarantees them their highest ever league finish.
Theoretically, they could still place as high as eighth.
Rewind to 2008 and Bournemouth were in financial ruin and reeling at the foot of League Two, when the novice Howe was appointed manager. It has been a remarkable chapter in the club’s history that defies belief, one which has been masterminded by Howe.
King’s remarkable scoring sequence continues
There have been several standout players for Bournemouth this season, among them goalkeeper Artur Boruc and Steve Cook, who has been a rock in the heart of defence.
Grabbing most of the headlines though is Joshua King, whose goals have fired the Cherries into the top half. His decisive strike against Burnley was his 16th of a memorable campaign and once again underscored his transformation from a talented but directionless youngster to a top-class Premier League striker.
King forced his way into the side through the weight of his performances and has since added goals to his game. The Norwegian has always had immense potential; now it is being realised. Howe has worked wonders with him and, in the absence of the injured Callum Wilson, King has relished the responsibility of leading the line.
Bournemouth will be braced for big-money offers for King this summer. Whether they are able to hold onto their star man remains to be seen.
Dyche must focus on Burnley’s sorry away form
Burnley’s sole objective upon securing promotion from the Championship was to ensure their stay in the Premier League would not be a temporary one. Despite having the smallest budget in the top-flight, boss Sean Dyche has achieved that aim, for which he deserves immense credit.
The Clarets were the bookmakers’ favourites for relegation back in August but have amassed 40 points. However, only seven of the those have come away from the fortress that is Turf Moor – an area Dyche will have identified as in need of drastic improvement (indeed, up until a fortnight ago against Crystal Palace, Burnley had failed to win on their travels).
To rely so heavily on their home form next season would be fraught with danger, so Dyche must find a way of making his side more competitive in all fixtures. Nevertheless, he and his players can congratulate themselves on a job well done.