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Why is Bournemouth’s Harry Arter proving a vital component for Eddie Howe’s side?

Harry Arter has come a long way since first penning a contract for Bournemouth in 2010 after a transfer from Woking. A shining star in Bournemouth’s promotion to the top flight and an integral part of the Cherries side that would go on to secure Premier League safety under Eddie Howe, Arter has already hit the ground running this season, featuring in all nine of Bournemouth’s Premier League games.

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The Republic of Ireland international has repeatedly brought praise to his performances, particularly after a superb display against Everton in the Cherries’ 1-0 victory, after which he was hailed as player of the match. Not only does Arter have an impressive work rate and always strive to break up play and win back possession, but he has a keen eye for a pass and can operate as a playmaker, with incisive passing, clever through balls and fantastic dribbling ability. But is his widespread praise justified?

He may not have registered any goals in the Premier League in his nine games so far this season, but he has created a total of six goalscoring chances and clocked up two assists for teammates. Far more reflective of his value however are his passing statistics. He has completed a total of 347 passes this season, maintaining an average pass accuracy of 86%, 74% of which were going forward.

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He has also maintained a reasonable level of discipline in those games, his only bookings of the season coming in Bournemouth’s away defeat to West Ham United, in which the midfielder was dismissed for a second yellow card. That remains the only game in which Arter has not completed the full ninety minutes for Bournemouth, which highlights just how important the midfielder is to Eddie Howe in his Cherries side.

So often this season has employed a 4-3-3 formation in Bournemouth’s fixtures, but with the make-up of that midfield alternating between new signing Jack Wilshere, Andrew Surman, Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook, Arter stands out as the constant. His continual presence in the midfield, particularly given his consistency, is proving vital for Bournemouth. As well as sitting deep and acting as the figure who protects his back four, he acts as a midfield engine and links the midfield and attacking three together with his runs forward and incisive passing. His sweeping displays in front of the back four also allow his midfield partners to roam, which in turn gives the front three licence to break further forward, which has proved of particular benefit to the deadly Junior Stanislas on the flank, who has ended up on the scoresheet in two of Bournemouth’s last three home games.

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The statistics also show how critical the Ireland international is in Eddie Howe’s passing game. Arter currently averages a total of 46 passes per game, but of those passes, only four of them are made up of long balls, and with 74% of his passes going forward, this only serves to indicate that he is playing the unsung hero role in the Cherries midfield in terms of getting balls forward.

So in short, yes. His praise is in fact just reward for the quality and consistency of performances that he is putting in for Bournemouth. The fact he is seeing out all of the game week in week out not only emphasises his attacking value and presence in the team, but that he is also vital in helping the Cherries defend their leads, and with an average of one foul given away per game, he is a reliable figure of the team that doesn’t give away key set plays to the opposition. These statistics go some way to painting a picture of what is behind his impressive performances for his club, particularly at the Vitality Stadium, and why therefore, their home record is becoming so imperious.

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Despite the consistency of Arter’s performances, he has so far been unable to establish himself as a regular in the Republic of Ireland National Team, but already a critical member of Eddie Howe’s squad, if he can maintain this level of performances throughout the season, he may not only be a key figure in Bournemouth’s mission to stay in the Premier League for a second time, but he may yet have something to give in Ireland’s quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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