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Bournemouth’s Andrew Surman proving influential in the Cherries bid to climb the table

Scott Challinor

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It has been a difficult restart to Premier League life for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in 2017/18, and the gaffer himself will have needed no telling.

The Cherries went into their weekend clash away at Stoke City with a meagre four points from their opening eight top-flight matches, having netted just four times, with an away record of one win in 13 away matches stretching back to last season.

With both Joshua King and Jermain Defoe – the duo who had provided two of their four goals up to that point in the current campaign – were ruled out through illness and injury, the travelling contingent of Cherries supporters, just shy of 1000, must have feared the worst.

Instead, their side mustered up a sensational first-half display to stun Mark Hughes’ Potters with two goals in 133 seconds, with Andrew Surman curling home a wonderful 16th-minute opening goal, before Junior Stanislas slotted home from the spot after Benik Afobe was upended in the penalty area by Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross.

Mame Biram Diouf made the away supporters slightly hotter under the collar in the second-half after pulling a goal back for the hosts, but Howe’s men dug in for a priceless second win that leaves the South Coast club a point shy of Stoke, and of safety, with the Potters only out of the bottom three on goal difference following Everton‘s 5-2 defeat to Arsenal the following day.

Defeat at the Bet365 Stadium would have equalled Bournemouth’s worst ever start to a league campaign, but Surman’s beautifully taken strike – coming at the end of a wonderful team move involving Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas – did much to settle any early nerves, as well as sending the travelling Bournemouth supporters into raptures early on.

Surman’s curling left-footed effort beyond the despairing dive of Jack Butland marked the former Southampton and Norwich midfielder’s second goal in his last five Premier League matches – as many goals as he has netted in his previous 81 top-flight matches.

Even when not on the scoresheet, he has proven a consistent performer for the Cherries thus far this season, and may well prove an influential part of the equation if they are to steer the ship clear of relegation trouble.

In fact, Surman’s goals are proving something of a lucky omen for Eddie Howe’s side, with his last strike coming in their only other win in the campaign so far: a 67th minute leveller against South Coast rivals Brighton, in a match they would go on to win 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium, thanks to Jermain Defoe’s winner.

In that game, Surman proved his worth to the Cherries as a presence in the centre of the park, linking play by completing 85% of his passes, winning 50% of his tackles and 67% of his aerial battles, besides creating one key opportunity and putting in one crucial block to help his team.

Even in Bournemouth’s only other positive result of their league season thus far, a goalless draw with Leicester City, the midfielder still completed an impressive 83% of his passes, won an improved 67% of his tackles and also managed to come out on top in 25% of his aerial battles. He also gave a helping hand to his defence with two clearances from inside his own box to help secure a point.

The statistics suggest that he is growing in influence for Bournemouth game by game, with the away victory at Stoke his most impressive overall performance yet.

Although he only managed to complete 71% of his passes during their battle in the Potteries, he created ten chances, made 34 crosses, managed ten interceptions and a whopping nine clearances from inside his own penalty area. Meanwhile, he succeeded in 38% of his attempted tackles, and won 48% of his aerial duels as the Cherries were made to dig in as the match wore on.

With an ability to contribute going forward, as well as having an aptitude for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to defending, Surman is undoubtedly becoming one of Eddie Howe’s more important players, and he has stepped unto the breach particularly well since being made to fill the void vacated by Harry Arter in two of the last three games.

With Lewis Cook occupying the centre-midfield spot alongside him in those games, Surman has been given greater licence to support the attack and operate as the primary playmaker, whilst also dropping back when required to help out the back four.

With Arter now fit for action having come on as a substitute at Stoke, it remains to be seen as to whether Bournemouth can continue their form with both Arter and Surman operating in midfield, with greater defensive responsibilities likely to fall the way of the latter.

Surman’s form during his absence, however, has certainly been of encouragement. It has also meant that Bournemouth haven’t suffered too greatly without a player whom many supporters will perceive as their most important midfielder, Based on current form, Surman may well be in line to usurp that accolade.

The conundrum that Eddie Howe will need to solve is how to get the best out of his midfield and ensure that it remains well balanced. Surman and Arter as a duo has worked over the previous two seasons, but with the Cherries having so far struggled for momentum, the inclusion of Cook next to Surman in Arter’s absence may have given Howe reason to re-think his starting line-up.

The fast start they made at Stoke suggests that the Surman-Cook partnership can complement the side well.

However, considering Arter’s importance, it is down to the manager as to whether he opts to upset that balance and persist with the Ireland international in the hope that the combination works as effectively as previous seasons, or continue to go with what has become a seemingly successful formula so far this campaign.

With the Surman and Cook duo bringing about Bournemouth’s three best results so far, some may think Howe a fool were he not to omit the club’s fan favourite once again.

Considering Surman is now the Cherries top scorer for the season, with two, his inclusion is a must. He will undoubtedly prove critical in weeks to come in order to help Bournemouth put breathing space between themselves and the relegation trap door.

With Chelsea next on the agenda, another stern test is sure to come, and Howe will certainly be scratching his head over his team selection in order to coax the best from Surman and the rest of his squad.

23 year old from Stoke-on-Trent. Avid Port Vale fan. Also follow Derby County & OGC Nice closely. BA Hons Modern Languages Graduate (University of Oxford). My prior experience in Sports Journalism comes from Volleyball & Floorball, having worked on major tournaments with the CEV, FIVB, & IFF. Have been contributing pieces to The Boot Room since 2016. Views are my own.

Bournemouth

West Ham should bring Jermain Defoe back to East London

The 35-year-old made just 11 appearances in the league this season.

Josh Kerr

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Jermain Defoe
Photo: Getty Images

Despite a truly disappointing and underwhelming season for West Ham, the club managed to restore some pride when they finished the season with a 3-1 win over Everton at the London Stadium.

However, one result doesn’t shy away from a season of turmoil and rebellion from Hammers fans, as the club finished 13th with the toxic atmosphere in East London directed towards the owners.

The future is also uncertain for David Moyes but, if the Scotsman is to start thinking about potential transfers, the 55-year-old Scot should consider bringing former West Ham forward Jermain Defoe back to East London.

The 35-year-old hit 37 goals in 93 games for Sunderland before re-signing for Bournemouth on a free transfer last summer, a move that seemed a brilliant piece of business from the Cherries.

However, Defoe has been restricted to just 11 Premier League games this campaign, scoring just four goals. And, while the Englishman hasn’t hit the highs of last season, he is still a goalscoring threat to be reckoned with.

Despite Rangers being labelled the bookmaker’s favourites to sign the former Tottenham striker, according to Paddy Power, West Ham should definitely consider swooping for one of the Premier League’s ultimate poachers.

(Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Premier League)

West Ham have struggled with their forward options this season with Javier Hernández becoming frustrated on the bench, whilst Andy Carroll has also failed to hit the mark having struggled with injuries.

Defoe scored 18 goals during his time at Upton Park, quickly becoming a fans favourite, so should the Hammers bring back one of their former club heroes?

Considering Bournemouth have the likes of Joshua King and Callum Wilson in their forward line, they may be interested in offers for the 132-time Premier League scorer.

West Ham struggled for attacking firepower this term, with Marko Arnautovic largely relied upon upfront. Therefore, reinforcements are likely to arrive at the London Stadium during the summer.

When a player like Jermain Defoe shows even a slight sign of being unhappy, in this case, due to a lack of game time, it should then become the club-in-need’s priority to swoop.

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Wolves must ensure Benik Afobe stays at Molineux next season

Josh Kerr

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Afobe
Photo: Getty Images

Wolves have secured their promotion to the Premier League in emphatic style. Registering 99 points as champions is a fantastic achievement for the Midlands side.

However, there is still business that needs attending to before returning to the promise lands of England’s top division.

Wolves striker and Bournemouth loanee Benik Afobe’s future is still undecided and the Wanderers have to act fast if they are to make the deal permanent.

According to the Birmingham Live, there are terms of their loan agreement with Bournemouth that state the club have until May 31st to decide on whether they will make the deal permanent.

The Bournemouth Echo have also reported that Wolves will get first choice as to whether they sign the £12 million-rated striker on a permanent deal.

Despite not being a regular feature in the Championship all season, Afobe still boasts six league goals from nine appearances proving he could have more to offer next season.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Also, considering his experience in the Premier League, the 25-year-old would be a useful addition as they prepare for life in the top flight.

Afobe endured a successful first spell at the Molineux Stadium before his move to Bournemouth, reported by BBC Sport to be in the region of £10 million.

His initial two years at the club saw 23 goals in 48 appearances and the former England under-21’s star quickly became a fan favourite before leaving for the Cherries in 2016.

He rejoined Wolves in the January window, on loan, leaving the striker “crying in his car with happiness”, according to BBC Sport.

The 6ft striker has 63 Premier League appearances under his belt, and for £12 million it is surely worth the expenditure to have Afobe leading in the dressing room next season.

The move would be ideal for both parties as Afobe has failed to establish himself as Bournemouth’s first choice striker, falling behind the likes of Joshua King, Callum Wilson and Jermaine Defoe in Eddie Howe’s side.

Wolves supporters were delighted to see their former hero return home, and with a full season ahead of him, Afobe could be the man to help fire the goals that could keep the Midlands outfit in the division next season.

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Can Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe become Everton’s next ‘David Moyes’?

Eddie Howe could follow in the footsteps of former Toffees boss David Moyes.

Max Cohen

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Eddie Howe
Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side were unlucky to fall to a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United, as the Premier League 11th ranked club gave the Red Devils a torrid time.

The remarkable success of the young English manager at Dean Court bears an uncanny resemblance to the career path of David Moyes. Just like Moyes, Howe would be a perfect fit at Goodison Park.

In 1998, Moyes began his managerial career at the tender age of 34 at Preston North End, who were then struggling at the foot of the third division of English football. The Scot proceeded to engineer a fantastic turnaround at the club, avoiding relegation in his first season and achieving promotion just two years later.

Moyes brought Preston within inches of promotion to the Premier League the very next season, but the Lilywhites were defeated in the play-off final by Bolton.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League

(Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

In 2002, the Merseyside club came knocking, signing Moyes in March with the club in the relegation dogfight. The Glaswegian kept the Toffees up that season, and the rest is history.

11 years at Goodison Park brought unprecedented success, with Champions League qualification, a string of top-seven finishes, and even finishing above dreaded rivals Liverpool on occasion.

Just like Moyes, Eddie Howe started his career in coaching in his early thirties, and has enjoyed immense success in lifting a lower-league club up the English league system.

Howe took over at Bournemouth when he was 31, steering them clear of the League 2 relegation places in 2009, gaining promotion to League 1 in 2010, going up to the Championship in 2014, and reaching the Premier League in 2015.

If anything, Howe has experienced more success than Moyes before joining Everton, as his Bournemouth side have tremendously overachieved in the top flight and look set to secure their Premier League status for the third consecutive year.

Everton would do well to acquire the services of the youthful English manager in the summer, as his arrival just might spark a similar revival to that of David Moyes.

With his incredible knack of getting the best out of his players, Howe would revitalise the Toffees and breath fresh life into a directionless club; just like the Scot did 16 years ago.

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