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Analysing Joshua King’s sensational hat-trick display for Bournemouth against West Ham

Rob Meech

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Joshua King scored his first Premier League hat-trick in AFC Bournemouth‘s crucial 3-2 victory over West Ham United, which eased their relegation fears. The Norway international has thrived on the responsibility of leading the line since the season-ending knee injury to Callum Wilson. With seven goals in his past five matches – and 11 in total this campaign – King is one of the in-form strikers in England’s top-flight. As well as the goals, the high standard of his performances have impressed everyone at Bournemouth and brought him to the attention of a wider audience.

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King, who graduated through Manchester United‘s youth ranks after moving to the UK from his native Oslo, joined the Cherries from Blackburn Rovers in the summer of 2015 for a tribunal fee believed to be £1 million. His initial displays were criticised by sections of the club’s supporters as he took time to familiarise himself with Eddie Howe’s philosophy. However, the improvement King has shown in the past 12 months especially, has been remarkable. He finished with six Premier League goals in Bournemouth’s maiden top-flight season and has become one of the first names on Eddie Howe’s team-sheet this term, culminating in his three-goal salvo in a man-of-the-match performance against West Ham.

Considering how his afternoon had started, taking home the match ball was probably the last thing King expected. He spurned a ninth-minute penalty, firing wide of the goal, and then watched on as the Hammers took the lead less than a minute later. But the versatile attacker underlined his mental toughness to bounce back from a setback by netting the equaliser. Controlling an awkward ball in the box with his right foot, King used his strength to hold off Jose Fonte before swivelling on to his left and steering the ball past goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

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While his first goal showcased his skill, King’s second and third efforts were testament to his positional awareness and finishing ability. With the match poised at 1-1 in the opening moments of the second half, Bournemouth’s leading scorer was in the right place to turn home a knockdown from Benik Afobe. King had stationed himself away from the Hammers’ defensive line when the free-kick was taken, gambling that the ball would fall to him as all top striker do.

King was causing West Ham nightmares with his pace and ability to run past opponents. Then in the 90th minute, after the visitors had levelled, he again found himself in the perfect spot to convert a rebound from Jack Wilshere’s shot. It was King’s composure – with his right foot this time – that really stood out at a defining moment of the game. It would have been easy for him to fluff his lines with three vital points at stake, but when Bournemouth needed someone to stand up and be counted, the Norwegian responded. It’s why he is so highly rated by Howe, his team-mates and everyone at the club.

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

Three things learnt from Bournemouth’s win over Cardiff: Fraser is key

Howe’s side kicked off the new campaign in solid fashion.

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Photo: Getty Images

Bournemouth began their 2018-19 campaign in the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Cardiff, finally winning a matchday one fixture.

Eddie Howe’s side had not won on the opening weekend in each of their previous three seasons in the top-flight but goals from Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson put the hosts in the driving seat for three points – despite a first-half penalty miss.

The Cherries will head to West Ham next weekend in good confidence and can take some key lessons from their performances. Here, we have identified three things we learnt from Bournemouth’s win.

King & Wilson’s partnership

Scoring 16 goals last season, eight each, Joshua King and Callum Wilson played a key-part in Bournemouth’s push for stability once again. The Cherries will face another stern test this season, particularly due to the free-spending sides around them, so it was positive to see the duo shine.

(Photo by AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

The stand-out moment came in the build-up for the opening goal, where King teed the ball across for Wilson on the right side and he then cut the ball back into the middle for Fraser to latch onto and tuck home comfortably.

Both boasting bags of pace, the duo kept Cardiff’s defence under threat throughout the match and Wilson finished the game with a goal and an assist.

Fraser is the star

Entering the campaign on the back of a decent pre-season, 24-year-old Fraser wasted no time opening his account for the season and maintaining a superb run that extends from last term – as he has now played a direct part in six goals in his last eight matches at the Vitality Stadium.

Against Cardiff, Fraser was heavily involved in everything positive that the Cherries created going forward and his goal was just a fraction of his fine performance. He popped up in space all over the field, causing the Bluebirds plenty of problems and not shirking his defensive responsibilities.

Now with over 100 league appearances for Bournemouth, Fraser could be a crucial part of Eddie Howe’s side this season and the relationship he could create with Wilson and King is very exciting.

“If we can keep Ryan [Fraser] fit he’ll be a big player for us this season. We needed this win after a poor start last year.”

– Howe echoed the view that Fraser will be a key asset this season.

Penalty woes continue

Last season Bournemouth were far from prolific from the penalty spot and Harry Arter’s missed spot-kick against Southampton in early April was the third that the Cherries had missed in a row. While we saw plenty of penalties at the World Cup, Howe seems to have avoided penalty practice in training.

To be fair though, Callum Wilson’s first-half penalty against Cardiff was not a horrendous effort. He went low for the right-hand corner and was denied by a brilliant save from Neil Etheridge – although if you were to criticise you could argue he could have put more power behind it.

Fortunately, the miss did not come back to haunt the hosts but it certainly could have done, especially as Neil Warnock’s side looked a lot more threatening in the second period.

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Bournemouth

One winner and loser from Bournemouth’s win over Cardiff

Bournemouth’s campaign started superbly with a comfortable victory.

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Bournemouth won a matchday one fixture for the first time in the Premier League at the fourth time of asking after a 2-0 victory over Cardiff.

Ryan Fraser continued his good form from pre-season to open the lead before Callum Wilson doubled their advantage in the second half, redeeming himself after seeing a first-half penalty saved by Cardiff stopper Neil Etheridge.

Eddie Howe’s side will now head to face West Ham next weekend full of confidence and will take some key lessons into that match. Here, we have identified one winner and loser from the victory.

Winner: Ryan Fraser

Catching the eye in pre-season, Ryan Fraser entered the campaign with good form and continued a fine record that carries over from last term – as he has now been directly involved in six goals in his last eight matches at the Vitality Stadium, scoring four and contributing two assists.

(Photo by AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images)

The 24-year-old has now scored a quarter of his 12 clubs goals in that period, from 112 league appearances, and it looks like he could be the shining light for Eddie Howe’s side as they seek top-flight stability once again this season.

Scotland international Fraser will certainly face competition for regular opportunities in his midfield role following the signings of Jefferson Lerma and David Brooks but he has certainly put himself right at the top of the pecking order.

“If we can keep Ryan [Fraser] fit he’ll be a big player for us this season. We needed this win after a poor start last year.”

– Howe praises Fraser after the victory.

Loser: Lewis Cook

Handed an extended break after his involvement at the Toulon Tournament with England’s U21 side, and also on the standby list for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, Lewis Cook did not feature today and may now face a test to force his way back into the line-up.

He is certainly one of the best players within the Cherries squad but the midfield quartet selected by Howe for the match against Cardiff looked strong and composed throughout, keeping the Welsh side quiet and pegged back inside their own half during the opening 45 minutes.

The second half saw Cardiff look much more threatening and the midfield then dropped back to aid the defenders. If Cook is to be one of the first names on the teamsheet this season, he will need to hit the ground running on his return.

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One winner and loser as Cardiff swoop in on season-long loan for Harry Arter

It’s looking like Cardiff boss Neil Warnock will get the midfielder he’s been desperate for on deadline day.

Liam Thomas

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Harry Arter
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Cardiff are closing in on a deal to sign Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter on a season-long loan, with the player en route to the Welsh capital to complete his medical, according to Sky Sports.

Manager Neil Warnock had prioritised the midfield as an area for his side to improve on before the transfer window closes and it looks like the Cardiff boss will have his wish granted with the arrival of Arter.

Cardiff will begin their 2018/19  Premier League campaign this Saturday afternoon against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

(Photo by Nathan Munkley/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Winner – Cardiff’s midfield options

The arrival of Arter will be welcomed by many at the Cardiff City Stadium, and there’s certainly room for improvement for Warnock’s side heading into the new season.

The Bournemouth man is a terrific talent and was unfortunate not to see more game time for the Cherries last season. However, Warnock will in no doubt give the experienced 28-year-old a chance to play week in, week out.

On a day where Warnock expressed his midfield as his priority, Harry Arter seems like the perfect deadline day signing to get things going ahead of the new campaign.

(Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Loser – Marko Grujic

Grujic enjoyed a terrific spell with Cardiff last season in the Championship while on loan from Liverpool and for the majority of this summers transfer window it looked likely the Serbian midfielder would join Warnock’s ranks on loan again.

However, according to the Liverpool Echo, Grujic turned down the chance to go back to the Cardiff City Stadium to instead fight for minutes at Anfield this season.

It will be a tough ask for Grujic to get some playing time at Anfield this season with the calibre of player they’ve brought in to their midfield this summer, and maybe the Serbian international has made a mistake by not taking Cardiff up on their offer of another season-long deal.

It remains to be seen whether or not Grujic will feature for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season. However, it’s highly unlikely he will.

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