Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth captured the imagination of the entire footballing community last season as they guaranteed their place in the Premier League for the first time ever after winning the Championship in style. Eddie Howe himself was presented with the LMA Manager Award for the 2014/15 season, and Bournemouth as a whole was praised for their creative, attacking football. This was done whilst on a strict budget and after pundits predicted a mid-table finish in the Championship last term.
AFC Bournemouth’s success story continues in the 2015/16 Premier League season, with the south coast team looking to emulate the successes of Southampton and secure themselves a future in the best league in the world.
History in the Premier League
Bournemouth has never been in the Premier League before, and with the success of last term this is the highest the team has ever been positioned. Whilst Watford and Norwich have history in the top flight in previous seasons this will be the first time that Bournemouth will have experienced the upper echelon of English football. Typically, the jury is out on teams failing to capitalise on their changes in the Premier League after securing promotion, but this review will assess if whether or not they have the tools to be a BPL hit or miss.
Bournemouth’s Promotion Team
The team that got Bournemouth promoted to the Premier League was regarded as mid-table at best, but under the guile and leadership of Eddie Howe they proved all of the critics wrong.
Used Substitutes & Rotated Players
Here were the most rotated players in the squad during the 2014-14 season. Please note the brackets indicate how many substitute appearances the player made.
Kermorgant (12, with 26 starts)
Eddie Howe usually favours the 4-4-2 or the 4-4-1-1 formations, which sees his wingers deployed as forwards when in possession and on the attack. Pugh and Ritchie will get forward to assist Wilson, playing more centrally to the striker which allows for the full-backs to make surging runs forward to support in the attack. Their overlapping style of play may help them disassemble stubborn Premier League defences.
Last year Pitman was utilised as a creative playmaker more than a striker, allowing Arter and Surman to control the midfield, and unleash the pace of Wilson when it was needed. Pitman will track back, allowing for Wilson to find and manoeuvre in the space around the defence. In midfield Surman normally sits further back to protect the back four when going forward, with Arter used as the pivot for the full backs to get forward. Predominantly they will always have between five and seven men around the ball to enable their passing play to develop, always having support from team mates enables them to move forward quickly and in numbers.
Eddie Howe may have not had the greatest team in history of the Championship but he had one that worked so well together that it was unstoppable in the clubs ascension to the Premier League. It will be interesting to see how his tactics work and change for higher quality oppositions.
Bournemouth’s Key Men & Stats
There were many pivotal figures which saw the meteoric rise of Bournemouth to the Premier League, first we will go through the key goal scorers for AFC Bournemouth last term. Please remember that a championship season is ten games longer than that of the Premier League.
Callum Wilson: 23 (20 league, 3 cup)
Yan Kermogant: 17 (15 league, 2 cup)
Matt Ritchie: 15 (15 league)
Brett Pitman: 14 (13 league, 1 cup)
Marc Pugh: 9 (9 league)
Harry Artur: 9 (9 league)
Steve Cook: 5 (5 league)
Bournemouth’s haul of 98 league goals last year was spread quite evenly across its forward line, with everyone expected to chip in with hitting the back of the net. This may not be the best news for some FPL fans that will worry that their players might be 1-in-5’s and struggle to contribute to their teams each week. Callum Wilson as a forward option looks like their most tantalising player from last season as a goal threat, and Matt Ritchie looking like a good wildcard to have in your midfield. Brett Pitman has now left the club, so this could affect their goal scoring form.
Matt Ritchie: 17 assists
Yann Kermorgant: 10 assists
Calum Wilson: 7 assists
Simon Francis: 6 assists
Andrew Surman: 6 assists
Adam Smith: 5 assists
Marc Pugh: 5 assists
Charlie Daniels: 4 assists
Harry Artur: 3 assists
Tommy Elphick: 2 assists
Dan Gosling: 2 assists
Steve Cook: 1 assist
Leading the way for assists is Matt Ritchie with a huge collection of 17 assists last term, combine this with his knack for goals and he could very be a gem for the 2015/16 as a utility midfielder for FPL managers. It is also good to see Wilson chipping in with assists too. Once again though there seems to be an emphasis of 1-in-5’s, with no guarantee that there are going to be forever consistent playmakers for assists. In particular, Harry Artur who is the more forward midfielder only obtained three assists in the Championship last year, so it might be worth thinking him over for your starting XI.
Artur Boruc is the number one goalkeeper for Bournemouth following his loan move from Southampton last year; in 37 appearances he kept 16 clean sheets in the Championship.
It is hard to say if Boruc will be worth the risk as an FPL option in goal as nobody is certain of their chances of Premier League survival. Personally, it could go two ways; either they rarely keep clean sheets and struggle defensively against the established Premier League teams, or they use their possessive play to limit the amount of time that the opponent has to score, increasing the likelihood of a clean sheet. I am unsure of which, but just to be safe I don’t think it would be a wise move for players in the top thousand to select Boruc for their teams.
Bournemouth has quite a good disciplinary record considering the number of games in the Championship. Here were the top offenders from their last season:
Harry Arter: 13 yellow
Steve Cook: 10 yellow
Simon Francis: 8 yellow, 1 red
Callum Wilson: 6 yellow
Matt Ritchie: 6 yellow
This might not be encouraging for FPL managers, as the top three prospects (Wilson, Ritchie, and Francis) love a good challenge and risking a card. We’ve all been there, player having great game…concedes unnecessary yellow. This may not mean much for the upcoming season but always worth taking note of who is most likely to set you back points.
In last season’s Championship they won 26 of their 46 games, lost 8, and drew 12 times last season. They were deserving champions and normally outplayed their opposition, giving way to a positive goal difference of +53. Their goal scoring prowess will be something they hope can give them an edge in Premier League survival.
Home & Away Form
Surprisingly, they had just as good, if not better, away form than home form last season. Of their 26 wins 13 of them were at Dean Court, and 13 of them won on their travels. Despite only losing five games away from home last year they scored 50 of their 98 goals on the road, emphasised by their 8-0 win over Birmingham City at St Andrews Stadium.
This steely approach may serve them well in their maiden season in the Premier League where they will be expected to pick up points on the road to guarantee their place in the league.
Bournemouth has so far been heavily involved in the transfer market and have so far signed five permanent players, and one on loan. Relying on the free transfer market it looks like they are taking their challenge of regaining a place in the Premier League for the lucrative 2016-17 season very seriously. Obtaining Premier League experience and promising prospects has been the pillar of their transfer activity this summer.
Player Name Former Club Fee
Artur Boruc Southampton Free Transfer
Sylvain Distin Everton Free Transfer
Adam Federici Reading Free Transfer
Joshua King Blackburn Free Transfer
Tyrone Mings Ipswich Town £8,000,000
Christian Atsu Chelsea Loan Deal
Current FPL Squad
As of the 12th July 2015 this is the full FPL Squad for AFC Bournemouth for the upcoming season. Under the ‘position’ column we have added the positions the players are most known for playing and can play.
Captain: Tommy Elphick
Boruc - GK - 4.5
Federici - GK - 4.5
Distin - CB - 4.5
Cook - CB - 4.5
Elphick - CB - 4.5
Daniels - LB - 4.5
Smith - RB/LB - 4.0
Mings - LB/CB - 4.5
Francis - RB - 4.5
Atsu - CAM/RW - 5.5
King - LW/ST - 5.0
Ritchie - RM - 6.0
Arter - CM - 5.0
Pugh - LM - 5.0
Surman - CM - 4.5
O’Kane - CM - 4.5
MacDonald - MF - 4.5
Stanislas - RW - 4.5
Gosling - CM - 4.5
Wilson - ST - 5.5
Kermorgant - ST - 5.0
Rantie - ST - 4.5
FPL managers will be looking to use set-piece takers in the squads in hopes of getting that free kick scorer on their books, or an assist from a corner or set piece situation. Bournemouth don’t have too many set-piece takers to consider.
Penalties: Kermorgant, Wilson, Rantie (during pre-season)
Direct Free Kicks: Ritche, Arter
Indirect Free Kicks: Ritchie, Arter
Corners: Ritchie Arter
This is promising news for fans of Wilson and Ritchie, further enhancing their opportunities for big point scores.
Potential Squad for Opening Day & Season
Having acquired a host of new talent Bournemouth have be an entirely new entity from last season, but assuming they either go with the 4-4-2 that they trusted, here is what their team could be on the opening day against Aston Villa at Dean Court:-
Alternatively they could opt to use a 4-4-1-1 which is a deviation of the trusted formula; this would see Atsu sitting behind Wilson as the playmaker, with Yann Kermorgant mostly used as a substitute. I see this as the most likely team that they will field on the opening day:-
From these line ups I would say the best defensive, midfield, and attacking options are players already established in the team, and not any of the new transfers. Experienced heads in their current squad will be the most likely source of points, and players also the most likely to play week-in, week-out without any competition for their places in the squad. Simon Francis marshalling right-back is a cheap FPL option, Matt Ritchie also down the right-midfield is going to be a constant consideration for managers, and leading the attack is the speedster Callum Wilson will have managers wagging their tongues for potential points.
Given that Bournemouth's first four home matches are against favourable opposition, we'd suggest rotating your chosen Bournemouth players. The Cherries have a good home/away rotation with Norwich and Leicester.
Howe’s Bournemouth could very well be a surprise package for the upcoming season, you can never underestimate the benefits of meticulous organisation has on a team. Howe reminds me a lot of Gary Monk and the way that Swansea plays, utilising wide attackers and having positioning of players as the biggest strength of the team. Howe’s and Bournemouth’s naivety of the Premier League is their biggest crux going into this season, with worrying reading for fans who just understand the dangers of being newbies in the BPL. As I’ve mention already in this article it will be interesting to see how Howe tries to use superior tactics to win matches, it is a bold approach and he will need it to actually work for his team to flourish. Bournemouth have dumped out of repeated cups by Liverpool in the past few years and will see them as their first true test of character as whether they have the right genes to survive in the Premier League pool.
With all evidence gathered I believe that Bournemouth may very well end up surviving, and who knows, surprising some people along the way. Eddie Howe has done that in last season in the Championship when they were originally written off, so what is to say that experience won’t bolster his squad. Having recruited some genuine talent it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the 2016/17 season. Having the right manager, organisation, and players might give Bournemouth the tactical edge to survive. By the end of the season The Hype Train predicts that they will finish between 14th and 16th position.