Bournemouth secured their first away victory of the season to ease their own concerns and pile more pressure on Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.
Two goals in as many first-half minutes from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas, via the penalty spot, had given the Cherries a two-goal advantage before Mama Biram Diouf threatened to set up a grandstand finish when he halved the arrears.
However, Bournemouth withstood the Potters’ late onslaught much to the relief of boss Eddie Howe, whose side recorded only their second Premier League win. Here are three talking points from a windswept afternoon at the bet365 Stadium.
Here are three talking points from a windswept afternoon at the bet365 Stadium…
Timely victory for eye-catching Bournemouth
Bournemouth headed into this fixture having lost all four of their away games this campaign, but they didn’t play like a team that sat 19th in the table. They completely bossed the first half and their 2-0 lead certainly didn’t flatter them. With more clinical finishing, they could easily have been further ahead.
This period has been a real test of Howe’s resolve and he has proved that, despite their perilous position, he will not be swayed from his principles. His players were confident on the ball and though they retreated as Stoke bombarded them with an aerial assault at the death, it was a deserved victory. Howe will hope this win can be a platform on which they can build and not just an isolated success.
Mark Hughes feeling the heat after another loss
Following last weekend’s 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City, Hughes would have been expecting his side to come out with all guns blazing against a struggling Bournemouth side. It didn’t materialise. Stoke chased shadows for much of the first half as Hughes watched on through gritted teeth. The Stoke boss appeared agitated and constantly berated the officials.
The introduction of Peter Crouch (as well as playing downwind) was the catalyst for an improved second-half performance, but the Potters were unable to claw back the deficit. Now falling fast, Hughes is wearing the look of a man who is beginning to fear for his job.
Rising star Lewis Cook impresses yet again
It’s taken longer than some fans expected, but Lewis Cook finally appears to have cemented his place in the Bournemouth XI. The former Leeds United midfielder, who captained England Under-20s to World Cup triumph last summer, has had to wait patiently for his opportunity. But Harry Arter’s dip in form gave Cook a chance to shine and he has played with a maturity beyond his years.
One criticism of the Cherries is that they sometimes keep possession without looking penetrating. When Cook gets the ball he instantly wants to move it forward and launch an attack. Young players can be inconsistent and there are sure to be difficult times ahead, but Cook has all the attributes to be a quality footballer – for club and country.