Bournemouth 2-1 Stoke City: Three talking points from the Vitality Stadium
Bournemouth extended their Premier League unbeaten run to seven matches as they came from behind to complete the double over Stoke City.
Following their tremendous victory over Chelsea in midweek, the Cherries started with a hangover and conceded in the fifth minute when Xherdan Shaqiri – one of the smallest men on the pitch – headed past Asmir Begovic.
The hosts looked transformed in the second half and equalised through Joshua King on 70 minutes. The Cherries then continued to dominate and struck the knockout blow when Lys Mousset nodded in his first top-flight goal for the club.
This was Stoke’s first defeat under new manager Paul Lambert as they slipped back into the relegation zone.
Here are three talking points…
Cherries’ character again comes to the fore
A feature of Bournemouth’s impressive recent form, which has seen them climb out of the drop-zone and up to the dizzying heights of ninth place, has been their ability to overturn a deficit.
It started on Boxing Day when Callum Wilson’s controversial injury-time goal rescued a point against West Ham United.
Twice they came from behind to earn a draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on New Year’s Day and now in their past two home matches, the Cherries have recovered from an early setback to register victories over Arsenal and Stoke.
In their previous two seasons in the Premier League, Bournemouth were renowned for making fast starts, but they often struggled to hold on to a lead.
Eddie Howe will be pleased with his side’s never-say-die attitude, particularly at such a crucial stage of the campaign.
Only a month ago, the Cherries were in real danger of being caught up in a relegation dogfight. Now, with 15 points from their past seven games, that threat has been alleviated.
Lambert suffers his first setback as Stoke boss
With four points from his first two games in the hot-seat, Lambert had made an impressive start following the demise of his predecessor, Mark Hughes.
His troops started well again on the south coast, as Shaqiri was somehow left unmarked to head home a cross from new signing Badou Ndiaye.
The Potters pressed their opponents high up the pitch and gave them little space or time on the ball, but perhaps their endeavours contributed to a sloppy second-half performance.
The visitors retreated under intense pressure from Bournemouth, who capitalised with two goals inside nine second-half minutes to claim all three points.
With the lower half of the table incredibly tight, this was a real blow to Stoke’s ambitions.
Victory would have seen them climb as high as 14th, but instead they have plummeted into the bottom three on goal difference. Currently, Stoke are one of three teams locked on 24 points.
The battle for survival is going down to the wire.
Substitutes make the difference for Bournemouth
A hamstring injury to Steve Cook in the 13th minute disrupted Howe’s plans.
With his side already 1-0 down, the Bournemouth manager decided to unleash striker King instead of replacing like-for-like.
This prompted a change in formation, with the hosts ditching the 3-4-3 system that worked so well against Chelsea in favour of a 4-4-2, with Ryan Fraser dropping into an unfamiliar right-back position.
The results were not immediate and the Cherries struggled to adapt, with Stoke enjoying large spells of possession. However, the second half was one-way traffic as the hosts peppered Jack Butland’s goal.
King netted his fourth of the campaign after finding himself in space before Mousset, another substitute, scored for the first time in the Premier League since his move from his native France in the summer of 2016.
For Howe, the result was justification for his early tactical change and he deserves immense credit. Modest as always, he will deflect it to his players.
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