3 reasons the AFC Bournemouth revival is set to continue
Cherries up to ninth after Stoke triumph
Some were predicting relegation for AFC Bournemouth following a miserable start to the season, which saw the Cherries pick up just four points from their first eight Premier League games.
But that all seems a distant memory now. Saturday’s 2-1 defeat of Stoke City lifted the South Coast club up to ninth in the league, and extended their unbeaten Prem run to seven games.
And a closer look at the factors behind Bournemouth’s form suggests they can continue to flourish in the coming months…
They know how to handle the top sides
The Cherries’ last away game saw Eddie Howe’s men pull off a stunning 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. That marked the joint heaviest home-defeat Chelsea had suffered in the Premier League era.
The visitors played a low-possession, counter-attacking game, and hit the Blues on the counter-attack to devastating effect. The rapid Callum Wilson and tricky Junior Stanislas both fit that game plan perfectly.
It’s a system that also worked superbly in the 2-1 defeat of Arsenal at the Vitality Stadium earlier this month. Well-organised, fearless and clinical up front, they were also unlucky not to take something from narrow defeats to Manchester City and Manchester United earlier in the season.
With three of their next nine games coming against sides in the top five, the Cherries will go into those matches brimming with confidence, and boasting plenty of know-how.
Goals and creativity across the park
Bournemouth have had 12 different Premier League goalscorers so far this term. To put that in context, it’s three more than eighth-placed Leicester and two more than Burnley in seventh. Even Manchester United are only one ahead of the Cherries.
That goalscoring threat across the pitch is one of the things that has made Bournemouth so hard to defend against lately.
From the pacy and clinical Wilson to tricky winger Ryan Fraser and aerial threats like Steve Cook and Nathan Ake, they’ve got goals throughout the team.
And things are likely to get even better when Jermain Defoe returns from injury. The evergreen hitman has been out since December, but is projected to return later this month.
Consistent back-four working well together
While it isn’t in Howe’s nature to make his side a defensive one, their backline is beginning to show promise.
After a couple of heavy losses leading up to Christmas, the Cherries have now conceded just six goals in as many league games since Boxing Day.
The tough-tackling Cook has built a good partnership with the classy Ake at centre-back. Meanwhile, combative right-back Adam Smith has added a few vital assists to his robust displays. And Charlie Daniels remains reliable on the left.
Despite a long-term injury to Tyrone Mings, they’ve begun to really mould as a defensive unit. And if they can keep Chelsea at bay in West London, the sky’s the limit…
Next up for Bournemouth is a visit to Huddersfield Town on Sunday. The Terriers have lost five successive league games, scoring just once.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing