Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have endured a tough start to life in the Premier League having failed to win any points or even score a goal in either of their first two games.
Despite these early setbacks, the Championship winners have shown enough to suggest that they are more than capable of surviving in the top league.
Fans will hope their side can build on their spirited display at Liverpool on Monday night with Anfield playing stage to a Bournemouth side who showed no signs of shifting from their passing ideology or succumbing to the occasion.
Matt Ritchie was his side’s stand out performer in the defeat on Merseyside, regularly cutting in on his left foot and threatening Simon Mignolet’s goal on several occasions during the second half. The game portrayed him as a key player for the team and the one most likely to orchestrate something for the rest of his Bournemouth compatriots in terms of attacking play.
He showed his talent with a Steven Gerrard-esq cross ball pass during the first half and some clever link up play with striker Callum Wilson, however failed to unlock the Liverpool defence enough to put them under any sustained pressure.
What was very evident from their defeat at the hands of Christian Benteke was the lack of a creative midfielder that could occupy the space between Jordan Henderson in central midfield and Liverpool’s central defenders Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren. Eddie Howe’s side were crying out for the presence of a number ten to support Callum Wilson and Joshua King up front, as evidenced by the amount of time and space Henderson and James Milner had on the ball at times during the game.
With this in mind, Matt Ritchie could pose as an ideal suit for a more central position behind the striker as a result of his eye for a pass and ability to score a goal. In relation to this, the return of loan signing Christian Atsu will be welcomed by Eddie Howe as the Ghanaian can act as both a number ten or a winger and promises to inject more pace and creativity in addition to the qualities of Ritchie.
Attacking strength across the set up will be essential to their chances and will be added to by the return of Harry Arter. It will allow for them to give other Premier League teams problems from different angles, which will go a long way towards helping them adapt to the toughest league in the world.
While their slick passing will benefit them hugely, the added pace of Max Gradel, Atsu and Callum Wilson will also prove key in allowing them to stretch sides. As tough as it is for them, they certainly have the attacking players at their disposal that can be match winners.
Further reinforcements are required up front though with some Premier League experience needed to help Wilson and King. There has been a notable lack of conviction in front of goal so far therefore someone must step up. Goals win games, after all.
Bournemouth’s loss at Liverpool was an excellent representation of what their midfield is all about. Eunan O’Kane and Andrew Surman were neat and tidy in central midfield and admirably keen to play proper football but they failed to make a significant contribution to the team’s attacking play.
Again, some Premier League experience is required in the middle of the park and O’Kane and Surman must look to further their game and join in with the attackers more. As important as it is to keep the ball and try and control the game, it is vital they look to take more risks in terms of playing the ball forward and giving their strikers something to work with.
Both are capable of this having shown their passing accuracy, it is just a matter of confidence. On the other hand, they left Philippe Coutinho with too much space on far too many occasions, which is something they must work on as, unlike the Championship, they will be punished. A strong defensive midfielder should be recruited before the transfer window closes.
The central defensive pairing of Steve Cook and skipper Tommy Elphick is a promising one given how long they have played together and how well one understands the other’s game. The back four as a unit, including right back Simon Francis and left back Charlie Daniels, played well against Liverpool.
They were unlucky to fall victim to a mistake from the linesman that allowed Benteke to score despite Coutinho interfering with play from an offside position. As a four, they looked organised and tactically disciplined while they also put in several last ditch tackles to stop Liverpool counter attacks.
A lot of positives can be taken from what we have seen from Bournemouth so far and I am confident they can find their feet and start winning games.