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With Jermain Defoe and Nathan Ake signed, how are Bournemouth likely to line-up next season?

Rob Meech



Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has been a busy man this summer, having already signed three players. Confirmation of Nathan Ake’s £20 million club-record signing came on Friday and followed hot on the heels of the capture of Jermain Defoe on a free transfer. Both players have previously played for the Cherries.

Ake was on loan from Chelsea for the first half of last season and made a huge impression before being recalled in January. Famously, Defoe kickstarted his career on the south coast as a teenager – and even played alongside Howe. A West Ham United loanee, he scored 10 goals in a row, which at the time was a post-war record.

It seems fitting that his career will conclude at the club where he made his name. With goalkeeper Asmir Begovic also having joined from Chelsea, Howe’s evolution of Bournemouth continues apace. But how will they line-up when the new season gets underway at West Bromwich Albion in August?


Veteran stopper Artur Boruc had an excellent campaign for the Cherries and added a year’s extension to his contract as a result, but he seems certain to lose his place to Begovic, who cost the club in the region of £10m. Howe is very loyal, but the arrival of Ake is likely to see a change in what was his preferred back four last term.

Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith should retain their places on the left and right side of defence respectively, but Ake could well slot in alongside the unheralded Steve Cook. That would mean dropping captain Simon Francis, who is a fine ambassador for the club. One potential complication is that both Cook and Ake prefer to play on the left side of central defence.

Cook, though, is naturally right-footed and to move to the right to accommodate the Dutchman should not be too taxing. Ake’s versatility means he could be a potential screening option in midfield, but central defence is where Howe utilised him last season.

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With Jack Wilshere’s loan spell having finished, there is sure to be a change in midfield. Andrew Surman, Harry Arter, Lewis Cook and Dan Gosling are all vying for two places, along with Emerson Hyndman, who has returned from a temporary stint with Rangers.

Cook, a former young Championship player of the year with Leeds United, benefited from Wilshere’s fractured ankle and produced several eye-catching performances. He recently captained England Under-20s to World Cup glory, an experience that can only benefit him. Cook could well dislodge Surman at the base of midfield and be paired with Arter.

The Cherries have several options on the wings, with Jordon Ibe, Ryan Fraser, Marc Pugh and Junior Stanislas. Each player offers different qualities and depending on the opposition, Howe may well interchange them. Pugh, the club’s longest-serving current player, has been written off on numerous occasions but remains an integral player. Max Gradel, however, could be on his way out of the club.


Defoe adds considerable pedigree to Bournemouth’s striker options. The 35-year-old has penned a three-year-deal at the club and will be hoping to replicate the form he showed in a struggling team at Sunderland. Howe has remained a keen admirer of the England international throughout his career and didn’t hesitate in signing him, despite his advancing years.

Defoe may not play every match, but he is expected to make his second debut for the club at West Brom, fitness permitting. He is likely to partner scoring sensation Joshua King, who was arguably the most-improved player in the Premier League last season. He is rumoured to be attracting interest Tottenham Hotspur, according to the Telegraph, but Howe will be determined to keep hold of him.

As well as Defoe and King, the Cherries boss also has Benik Afobe and Callum Wilson at his disposal. Wilson is recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, but Afobe’s form in the second half of the campaign was impressive, particularly in tandem with King.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech


Bournemouth 2-1 Arsenal: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Bournemouth came from behind to claim a much-needed victory over Arsenal, whose hopes of qualifying for the Champions League have suffered another blow.

After an insipid opening period at the Vitality Stadium, the action sparked into life when Hector Bellerin broke the deadlock on 52 minutes.

But Arsenal’s lead was short-lived, as goals from Callum Wilson and Jordon Ibe – his first for the club – secured the Cherries’ fourth home win of the season, which lifted them to 13th in the table.

Arsenal, meanwhile, slipped further adrift in the battle to finish in the top four after their third consecutive league game without a win. Here are three talking points…

Alexis Sanchez moves closer to the Emirates exit door

All the pre-match talk centred on a player who wasn’t involved in the contest. Not only was Alexis Sanchez not named in the starting XI, he wasn’t even on the bench having not travelled to the south coast.

Manager Arsene Wenger was ambiguous when pressed on this in the aftermath of the defeat, but the insinuation was clear; the want-away Chilean will not be an Arsenal player come the end of the transfer window.

Both Manchester City and Manchester United have been heavily linked with a move for Sanchez, whose contract at the Emirates expires in the summer. Despite his uncertain future, this match was crying out for his never-say-die attitude.

Arsenal controlled the first half and deserved to be in front when Bellerin fired home. However, the Gunners were unable to add a second and Bournemouth capitalised with two late efforts. Arsene Wenger’s side are now without a win in four games in 2018 as their troubles mount.

Bournemouth buck the trend against the ‘Big Six’

Before this fixture, Bournemouth had lost all of their matches against the ‘Big Six’ this season, scoring only one goal in seven outings.

While those are not necessarily the games that will define their campaign, it was a worrying statistic that Eddie Howe needed to address. Facing an Arsenal team without Sanchez or Mesut Ozil looked like being the Cherries’ best opportunity to buck that trend, and so it proved.

With only nine points separating all the teams in the bottom half, an unexpected win can do so much to alter the picture. The Cherries didn’t fold after going a goal behind and they merited the three points for an enterprising second-half display.

Having beaten Arsenal for the first time in their history, Bournemouth are now four points clear of the drop-zone. They are by no means safe because of this result, but the psychological impact could be immense.

Jack Wilshere getting back to his best

Returning to the club at which he spent last season on loan, this was not the afternoon Jack Wilshere would have hoped for. Though it didn’t go well from a team perspective, the 26-year-old was close to his best at the Vitality Stadium.

He touched the ball more than any other player on the pitch and also completed more passes. After a frustrating start to the campaign where he struggled for minutes in the Premier League, Wilshere is now establishing himself in the starting XI.

He was Arsenal’s best player against Bournemouth and in a team that lacks leaders, he was one of the few who looked like he wanted the ball. Wilshere ran the show in midfield and was always keen to move forward with purpose.

England manager Gareth Southgate surely can’t ignore Wilshere’s form and, fitness permitting, he must be a shoo-in for the next squad. In a World Cup year, Wilshere is peaking at just the right time.

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Bournemouth 2-1 Everton: Three talking points from the Vitality

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Ryan Fraser scored twice as Bournemouth claimed their first Premier League victory since November to move out of the relegation zone. The Scotland winger, who opened the scoring in the first half before Idrissa Gueye equalised for Everton, netted an 88th-minute winner as the Cherries ended a run of eight matches without a win.

It eased the pressure on boss Eddie Howe, whose side have climbed to 14th thanks to their fifth triumph of the campaign, and condemned the Toffees to their first defeat under new manager Sam Allardyce. Here are three talking points from an engaging clash at the Vitality Stadium.

Good things come in small packages

Although he may be small in stature, Fraser is having a big impact for Bournemouth this season. After a spell out of the team, the diminutive Scotsman has regained his place and become an integral player for Howe. Fraser’s third and fourth goals of the campaign could not have been more timely, as the Cherries celebrated only their third home triumph.

His first of the afternoon was a tidy finish after being found in space by Joshua King. His second, with the clock running down, was aided by a deflection to divert the ball past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but that did not detract from the mazy run that took him into the box and in a position to shoot.

Fraser often struggled to complete 90 minutes last season, but his stamina has noticeably improved thanks to extra strength and conditioning work. Direct running with the ball has always been a feature of the 23-year-old’s play and now he is adding goals and a threatening dead-ball delivery to his repertoire.

Everton suffer first setback under Allardyce

The Toffees headed into this fixture high on confidence, having conceded only two goals in the six games under Allardyce’s stewardship. But this was a lacklustre performance and the Everton manager could have no complaints as they left the Vitality Stadium empty-handed.

Bournemouth controlled the game in the first half and deserved to go ahead, although the goal did stem from a misplaced pass by James McCarthy. The introduction of Wayne Rooney at the start of the second period had a positive impact and the Toffees duly equalised. But Cherries’ keeper Asmir Begovic was not called into further action and Everton’s defence could not withstand the pressure as Fraser bagged a late winner.

Allardyce has built his reputation on defensive stability and this was a rare lapse. A more pressing concern though, is a lack of firepower in attack, with Everton relying too heavily on youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin. A striker capable of scoring regularly is surely top of his wish-list for the upcoming transfer window.

Howe’s trust in his players is rewarded

While not at the stage where he was fearing for his job, there is no denying Howe was feeling the heat after a club record-equalling sequence of eight Premier League games without a victory. With a mounting injury crisis and his side sitting in the bottom three, questions were being asked about Howe’s credentials.

As ever, he stuck to his principles. And by naming the same team that drew with West Ham United four days earlier, he backed his players to respond. Howe was rewarded with a fluent performance that showed the players remained fully committed to their manager and his methods.

This was the first time Bournemouth had beaten a team in the top half this season and undoubtedly their most important three points. What will especially delight Howe is that, for the second game in succession, they netted a late goal when it was required. This character is sure to be crucial, with more twists and turns to come.

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Bournemouth 3-3 West Ham: Three talking points from the Vitality

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

A controversial injury-time goal from Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson denied West Ham United victory in a pulsating Boxing Day clash on the south coast. In atrocious conditions, six goals were shared between two sides struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

The Hammers had taken the lead through James Collins before Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake turned the game in favour of the hosts. But two errors from Cherries keeper Asmir Begovic gifted Marco Arnautovic a quick-fire brace, which looked certain to condemn Bournemouth to a third straight defeat.

However, there was a dramatic twist when referee Bobby Madley awarded the Cherries a goal despite his assistant having flagged for offside against Wilson, who also appeared to handle Ake’s header over the line. Here are three talking points…

Referee Madley takes centre stage

The farcical scenes that occurred at the death were a fitting finale to a match that had everything. Chasing a last-gasp equaliser, Ake nodded the ball past West Ham stopper Adrian, only to see the referee’s assistant raise his flag for offside against Wilson who had been lurking at the far post.

The question for referee Madley, as the two conferred, was whether Wilson, who had appeared to be marginally offside, had touched the ball. After a considerable deliberations, Madley awarded the goal, presumably having decided Wilson had not interfered. It was the wrong decision.

Ake’s header may well have sneaked in anyway, but the Bournemouth forward did touch the ball and the goal was credited to him. West Ham can rightly feel aggrieved, as it’s uncommon for a referee to overrule his assistant on an offside call. The decision-making process was flawed and Madley may expect to be given a weekend off.

Bournemouth show signs of improvement

Although the dramatic leveller was steeped in controversy, it should not detract from the fact that a point was the very least Bournemouth deserved. Manager Eddie Howe would have asked for a response following a difficult run of results – and his players delivered with one of their best performances of the season.

It was only wasteful finishing, particularly from Joshua King, that kept West Ham in contention as the Cherries peppered Adrian’s goal. Defeat would have been extremely harsh on Bournemouth and a major blow to their survival hopes, but Wilson’s equaliser gives them some encouragement ahead of Saturday’s home fixture with Everton.

The Cherries are still in the drop-zone but such is the tight nature of the league that they are only two points behind 14th-placed Southampton. Howe will have been delighted with the spirit and never-say-die attitude his troops displayed; less so with the individual errors that continue to plague them.

Defensive troubles undermine West Ham

David Moyes was left fuming with the nature of Bournemouth’s last-gasp equaliser but he will know his own side were fortunate to escape from the Vitality Stadium with a point, having been outplayed for the majority of the game. A valuable point it was too, following their surprise defeat at home to Newcastle United three days earlier.

Moyes’s appointment has had the impact the club’s under-fire owners desired, with the victory over Chelsea at the London Stadium a particular highlight. But the Scottish boss will know they are far from safe, with basement boys Swansea only five points adrift.

What will concern Moyes, who is renowned as an organiser of men, is that West Ham conceded three times for the second game running – and but for the heroics of his goalkeeper it could have been worse. Only one club have shipped more goals than the Hammers this season, so shoring up the defence will be uppermost in Moyes’ mind.

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