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AFC Bournemouth 2015/16 Premier League Season Preview



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.

Transfers In

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.

Key Players

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

AFC Bournemouth 2015/16 - Football tactics and formations


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

  1. Aston Villa (H)
  2. Liverpool (A)
  3. West Ham United (A)
  4. Leicester City (H)
  5. Norwich City (A)
  6. 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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Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook looks destined for a top-four club

The 21-year-old has been called up to Gareth Southgate’s squad as a reward for his recent form.

Rob Meech



Photo: Getty Images

His form has largely gone under the radar, but Lewis Cook’s England call-up for the prestige friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy has brought him fully into the public consciousness.

The Bournemouth midfielder has been rewarded for his eye-catching performances since establishing himself as one of the first names on Eddie Howe’s team-sheet.

Keeping the likes of Harry Arter out of the starting XI, Cook has become a fans’ favourite at the Vitality Stadium.

With each appearance, the 21-year-old looks increasingly at home in the top-flight and is growing in maturity.

Cook had been enlisted as cover by Gareth Southgate during last November’s friendlies but didn’t feature. This time, however, he is in the 27-man squad on merit alone.

Despite being a newcomer, Cook has international pedigree.

He captained England at the Under-20 World Cup and followed Bobby Moore as only the second Englishman to lift a global trophy when the Three Lions defeated Venezuela in South Korea.

His progress has been tracked by Southgate, who wants to build a pathway from the age groups to the senior team.

It is a model that has proved successful in Germany, whose 2014 World Cup winners featured a nucleus of the dominant under-21 outfit.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Southgate has made it clear that, ideally, he wants to pick those who are performing regularly for their clubs.

With an increasingly shallow pool of players to choose from, this is not always possible.

But for the likes of Cook and James Tarkowski of Burnley, their call-ups are proof that you do not have to play for a so-called ‘big club’ to receive England recognition.

It gives hope to all those who harbour international ambitions.

Cook arrived in Dorset with high expectations after joining from Championship outfit Leeds United in the summer of 2016, but his maiden season was bedevilled by difficulties.

He lined up for his competitive debut in the 2016/17 Premier League curtain-raiser against Manchester United, only for a persistent ankle injury to sideline him for seven months.

He featured only sporadically at the back end of the campaign.

This season began similarly frustratingly for Cook, who failed to make the match-day squad for the opening fixtures.

However, he made his first Premier League start of the term against Leicester City last September and never looked back.

First, in partnership with Andrew Surman and latterly alongside Dan Gosling, it is no coincidence the Cherries’ revival has occurred with Cook at the heart of the action.

He has been instrumental in their improvement.

Cook’s style has been compared to Jack Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth.

Howe has credited the Arsenal man with aiding his protege’s development, culminating in this England selection.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Like Wilshere, Cook could not be described a prolific goalscorer. In fact, he has netted only two goals in 120 career appearances.

Where he shines is in possession of the football.

Linking defence with attack, Cook’s vision and ability to execute a pass are stand-out qualities. He rarely gives the ball away and always wants to move the play forward.

Occasionally he picks the wrong option, but at such a tender age mistakes are inevitable.

Despite the microscopic scrutiny involved in the top-flight, he can never be accused of hiding.

Cook always demands the ball from his team-mates, no matter how well he is playing.

Speculation has risen that Cook might be a target for some of the Premier League’s elite clubs, most notably Liverpool, who were reported to be targeting him to replace the Juventus-linked Emre Can.

Whether this interest materialises remains to be seen, but should Cook’s form continue then Howe may face a fight to keep his prized asset on the south coast.

There is little doubt from those who watch him regularly that Cook has the potential to reach the very top.

England recognition – and a spot at this summer’s World Cup – will only accelerate his rise.

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Junior Stanislas winner cliches Premier League survival for Bournemouth

The Cherries came from behind to beat West Brom on Saturday.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Bournemouth fought back from 1-0 down to secure a vital three points against West Bromwich Albion, as they took a huge step towards Premier League survival.

It wasn’t the best performance from the Cherries, but one player to standout was Junior Stanislas. The winger has been in good form during recent weeks and scored the winning goal on Saturday with a superb free-kick from range.

The 28-year-old is reaching the peak years of his career and he will want to be a regular starter in the top-flight. Bournemouth are a good fit for him, as there are no superstars and the team is greater than the sum of its parts. There are sprinklings of quality throughout and Stanislas is one of the players that can produce moments of brilliance on the pitch.

During the second half of the season, he has been one of the key attacking elements for Bournemouth. He has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League matches, but the one on Saturday was the most important of those as it was directly responsible for the win.

There were only minutes remaining and the chance came from a free-kick that was a long way out. Stanislas showed great confidence to take a shot and the resulting goal will go down as one of the best in his career to date.

(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

The overall performance from Stanislas was a positive one, as he worked hard and contributed in both halves of the pitch from the left wing. The 28-year-old completed two dribbles and made one key pass during the contest, while his pass completion rate was 80%.

He was effective in possession and rarely gave the ball away, which aided the team’s attacking play. In addition to his goal, the winger offered a threat for the entire game and had four attempts on goal. This was the joint-most of any player on the pitch.

Eddie Howe demands total commitment from his players and everyone is expected to contribute to the defensive effort. Stanislas certainly did that on Saturday as he completed both of his attempted tackles. It is important for the wingers to work back and help their full-backs in a 4-4-2 formation. Both Stanislas and Jordon Ibe did their bit for the team.

With their victory over West Brom, Bournemouth moved into the top ten of the Premier League and sit on 36 points. That should put an end to their relegation worries, as they are eight points clear of the bottom three with only seven matches left to play. Although the Cherries have been in the top-flight for three seasons now, it remains a huge achievement to stay in the division given the size of the club.

The success has been due to the team spirit and players stepping up to the highest level. Stanislas is a great example of that, as he has spent the majority of his career in the Football League. He helped Bournemouth get promoted and has continued to improve since the club arrived in the Premier League. Now he is one of the Cherries’ best players and moments like his goal on Saturday reflect that.

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Leicester City 1-1 Bournemouth: Three talking points from the King Power

Rob Meech



Leicester City
Photo: Getty Images

Riyad Mahrez’s stunning 97th-minute free-kick rescued a point for Leicester City against Bournemouth.

Mahrez, who had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the January transfer window, curled the ball past Asmir Begovic from 30 yards to deny the Cherries victory in a grandstand finish at the King Power Stadium.

Joshua King had given Bournemouth a first-half lead when he stepped up to dispatch a spot-kick after being fouled inside the area.

The Foxes threw everything at their opponents in the second period but had to wait until deep into added-time for a dramatic equaliser.

Here are three talking points…

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Redemption for Mahrez after troubling period

The Algerian’s attempts to engineer a switch to City and subsequent failure to report to training had not been well received by Leicester supporters.

Mahrez had been a key figure in the Foxes’ phenomenal Premier League title triumph two years ago, but his reputation suffered a battering when he made it clear he saw his future away from the club.

After a difficult period for all involved, Mahrez is back in the fold and now back in the fans’ good books.

His last-minute goal against the Cherries certainly was evidence of his redemption.

Thirty yards out, the 27-year-old started the ball outside the wall and watched it bend back past Begovic’s outstretched right hand.

Leicester, who have never beaten Bournemouth in the top-flight, are winless in five Premier League matches, but they remain eighth in the table.

With Mahrez’s reintegration seemingly complete, a fruitful finish to the season could even help them push for a European place.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Howe ‘disgusted’ as Bournemouth concede so late

Bournemouth’s backs had been firmly up against the wall in the second half as they sought to hold on to their tenuous advantage.

It looked to have been a worthwhile effort until Mahrez’s moment of magic.

A share of the spoils was probably fair in the context of the game, but Cherries manager Eddie Howe admitted he felt ‘disgusted’ after watching the visitors concede so late.

Only four minutes of stoppage-time had been scheduled, but an injury to Simon Francis as well as a substitution meant referee Lee Probert played nearly double that amount.

Despite missing out on what would have been a crucial win, Bournemouth are edging towards safety.

They have lost only once since Christmas, a run that has helped them climb out of the relegation zone and amass 33 points.

Two more victories from their remaining nine fixtures should be enough to secure Premier League football for a fourth successive campaign.

(Photo by Roland Harrison/Getty Images)

Summer will be a key time for both clubs

In a league that is dominated by the so-called ‘Big Six’, the primary aim of the other 14 clubs is survival.

As mentioned above, both Leicester and Bournemouth are all but guaranteed to be playing in the top-flight next season.

The question for both in the summer will be, how can they push on?

The first job for the Foxes’ hierarchy and manager Claude Puel will be deciding the future of Mahrez.

Do they cash in on their star player and reinvest the funds into the squad, or do they try to tie him down to a new contract?

Bournemouth’s ambitions are perhaps not as high as Leicester’s, but after finishing ninth last season, another mid-table position will consolidate their status as a bona fide Premier League outfit.

On the field, there may be some significant outgoings as Howe looks to freshen his resources.

The out-of-favour Harry Arter is one player who looks likely to leave the south coast.

Off the field, the club will hope its plans for a new stadium get closer to becoming a reality.

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