Updated: Apr 30, 2019
It’s crazy to think that we will be taking on Bournemouth tonight for the third time in the Premier League. The Cherries were a staple of my formative years supporting Town in the lower reaches of the Football League.
Brian Stock and James Hayter were once Bournemouth’s danger men, now it is Ryan Fraser and England international Callum Wilson that strike fear into the hearts of Premier League defenders.
A win tonight for Eddie Howe’s side could see them rise to 6th place in the Premier League, despite a dreadful run of recent form. On the face of it Bournemouth’s early season bubble seems to have burst, but you’d be very, very wrong if you thought that.
Their previous 4 games have yielded 0 points, but the only disappointing performance in that run came in the loss to struggling Newcastle. In the other 3 games against Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City, The Cherries performed admirably.
Most notably in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to mega rich City where they were somewhat unfortunate to end up on the losing side, especially considering they had a clear penalty denied at 1-2. So what can we expect from our trip to The Vitality? Read on to find out.
David Brooks, Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson have been referred to as the own brand version of Liverpool’s front three by The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning, and it’s easy to see why. The tenacity, pressing and movement of Bournemouth’s front three has led to The Cherries notching 23 times this season, more than Leicester, Everton and Manchester United.
They are a menace to defenders and their pace on the break will frighten David Wagner, as one loss in possession can quickly see the ball in the back of the net. We were critical of Wagner’s defensive approach on Saturday after Steve Mounie’s red card, but that could be the ideal tactic to go to Bournemouth with.
Playing deep and narrow, and congesting the middle of a small pitch should go some way to reducing the threat that Bournemouth’s front three pose.
Bournemouth aren’t a dirty team by any stretch of the imagination, but they are a canny side, much like Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Eddie Howe instructs his players to break up counter attacks by committing innocuous fouls in the middle third of the pitch if his team’s initial press fails to work.
So far this tactic has worked well for Bournemouth, earning them only 21 yellow cards and just the 1 red card. One of the few ways to bypass this tactic is by getting the ball forward quickly, or by making every set-piece situation into a goal scoring opportunity.
With Depoitre likely to return to the squad following Mounie’s unsuccessful appeal against his red card, Town could and perhaps should look to go long to the Belgian with Alex Pritchard playing off him.
Much was made of Lucas Torreira’s ‘ratty’ performance against Spurs on Sunday and that word could be used to describe Bournemouth’s overall approach at home. The Cherries are adept at hustling and harrying opposition players on their own turf.
The pace of the game will undoubtedly be dictated by Bournemouth and Town will have to withstand, at times, a hurricane of attacking football and pressing. David Wagner’s team will rarely have free time on the ball, unless of course they find themselves trailing in the game.
If that happens then Bournemouth will be happy to draw us onto them before pouncing with clinical precision to hit us on the counter. If you need any reminders of that then look no further than our 4-0 loss to 10-man Bournemouth at The Vitality last season.
Town had plenty of possession and territory, but were relentlessly hit on the counter in a near perfect performance from The Cherries.
This game is a difficult one to gauge, not because of Bournemouth’s recent form or talents but because of Town’s poles apart performances in their last 2 fixtures. At Molineux Town were dominant, forward thinking and brimming with confidence.
After the dismissal of Steve Mounie at home to Brighton, Town were the complete opposite. They let the sense of injustice overawe them and contributed to their own downfall just as much as Michael Oliver and Brighton did.
The result of this game depends on two reactions. Firstly, how do Town’s players react to the injustice of Saturday? Do they use it to spur them on, or like they did on Saturday, do they let it consume them?
Secondly how do Bournemouth react to their recent form? Realistically they should be able to separate the results from the performances and take the positives and the ensuing confidence from them. But there’s always the chance that they will react negatively, question themselves and be low on confidence.
However both sides react, I feel it will be a difficult night for Town regardless. 3 points would be fantastic, but I’d find it hard to justify predicting a win. I am hopeful though that David Wagner can get the required reaction from his players and therefore, I’m going for…
Bournemouth 2 Huddersfield Town 2
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