AFC Bournemouth will be heading into an unprecedented 5th season in the English Premier League this year after a miraculous run in England’s top flight. After being tipped to drop straight back into the Championship in the 2015/16 season, Eddie Howe has performed managerial magic to turn Bournemouth into a sustainable Premier League team.
Last year, a strong start was hampered by strings of poor results and multiple injuries meaning they finished 14th. However, bright sparks included Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser’s lethal partnership which broke a 38 game-a-season goal combination of 12; and the emergence of starlet David Brooks.
Their transfer activity so far has been smart. Receiving £30,000,000+ for Tyrone Mings and Lys Mousset is shrewd business from the Cherries who have already reinvested in 2 young defenders Lloyd Kelly and Jack Stacey. The introduction of these two defenders could be a difference maker as leaking goals was arguably their biggest issue last campaign. Shaping a young defence around Nathan Ake could be the key to sharpening up the troubles they faced last year.
Towards the end of last season, Bournemouth were facing dilemmas over the Goalkeeping position as Asmir Begovic fell out of favour with the manager and fans alike. 20-Year-Old Mark Travers impressed in his debut against Tottenham towards the end of last season, keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory. However, handing the reigns to the Irishman to be the starting Goalkeeper may be a step too far at this stage of his career and Bournemouth should be looking to burst the bank for a top-quality keeper. Interest in Jack Butland has surfaced this summer, but no concrete offer has been lodged to buy the Stoke shot-stopper. Butland would be the perfect fit into the Bournemouth squad and would be the final piece to the defensive puzzle if he was to move to the Vitality.
In attack, keeping Callum Wilson injury free will be vital. If he can carry on the momentum from last season, Wilson’s goals will keep Bournemouth on an upward trajectory and help them challenge for the middle of the table. His support system of Fraser, Joshua King and Junior Stanislas will be pivotal in how clinical Wilson can be. Fraser had the best season of his career last year and if he can be anywhere near the form he was last season, Bournemouth will be in good stead going forward. Having King paired with Wilson upfront rather than in a number 10 role could be the key to unlock Bournemouth’s rise up the table. King is arguably Bournemouth’s most underrated player and has been consistent in their top-flight tenure thus far. If Eddie Howe is willing to have the pair both play up top, defenders everywhere would have their hands full trying to contain them.
A problem Bournemouth have is squad depth in the Midfield department. In one of their worst performances last season, a 2-0 loss against Cardiff, their starting midfield partnership was Andrew Surman and Dan Gosling. Although stalwart’s of the Bournemouth side, Bournemouth will have to buy this summer to provide efficient cover for Jefferson Lerma and David Brooks to ensure they have a bit more quality off the bench in order to have sufficient squad rotation throughout the campaign.
In Summary, Eddie Howe’s side should produce a season bettering that of last seasons with the momentum they carried with certain players and the introduction of a fresh, young defence. Having Fraser provide for the duo of Wilson and King could be the biggest difference maker in climbing up the table if they can all stay fit. Incorporating Stacey and Kelly to help support a defence built around Nathan Ake will provide a solid foundation in maintaining a better defensive record, and minimising goals which are avoidable. Also, the need for squad depth in the middle of the park could be the biggest issue for the team. If Lerma and Brooks are out the squad at any point. Bournemouth risk being turned over in midfield if they don’t get the depth required. However, Eddie Howe’s side have built their reputation on being underdogs. Although nowhere near the strongest side on paper, Howe has sustained a formula in which Bournemouth have maintained success in staying in the Premier League and producing finishes way beyond anyone expects them to.
Final Prediction: 12th
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