Ahead of Bournemouth‘s clash against Watford tomorrow, we take a look at the seaside club’s season so far.
Bournemouth’s rise from surviving League 2 relegation, administration and almost ceasing to exist in 2009 to being promoted to the Premier League in 2015 is a quite unbelievable transformation. Eddie Howe has masterminded one of the greatest ascensions in English Football, even if it has been helped with a large financial backing from their Russian owner Maxim Demin.
This season, they have shown that they can compete against the best in the Premier League. They have already beaten Manchester United (2-1) and Chelsea (1-0) and have shown resilience, when they went 3-2 down in the 95th minute to Everton in November but kept going to equalise in the 98th minute to salvage a point.
This ‘never say die‘ attitude shows a strong mentality that is key for any team wanting to avoid relegation and thrive in the league. Furthermore, the added firepower up front that they invested in the January transfer window with Benik Afobe (£10 million) and Lewis Grabban (£7 million), could keep them up this season.
However, in their recent game against title challengers Arsenal, one thing in particular stood out as a major issue for Bournemouth: quality. Despite their January signings, they showed lack of affirmation in front of goal. Arsenal scored with their first two shots on target and had 5/10 shots on target in the game. Bournemouth had 17 shots with only four on target and failed to score. Whilst Petr Cech made three top saves, it is the shortage of conviction in front of goal that meant they lost the game. As Michael Owen has probably said – if you can’t score, you can’t win football matches.
Bournemouth’s inconsistent form means a few bad results can move you from four points clear of the relegation zone to four points from safety, if results go against you. The Cherries have been very unlucky with injuries to players this year with £8 million summer signing Tyrone Mings, top goalscorer Callum Wilson and Max Gradel all ruled out very early in the season. This might account for some poor results but not all of them can be down to this.
I think they have enough to stay in the league. They have a top manager, some real talent in their squad with players like Callum Wilson and Max Gradel close to a return to first team action they should have enough about them to stay up. I also think they have invested wisely and they will give them sufficient quality to avoid relegation.