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Is the cherry souring for Bournemouth in the FPL?

Nine weeks into the 2015/16 BPL season and there’s a growing sense of sympathy around Bournemouth, even if the club don’t want it. A host of major injuries has hampered a decent start to life in their first top-flight season, whilst from an FPL point of view the attractiveness of the Cherries as squad options has dramatically dwindled. The Hype Train assess Bournemouth’s current struggle, the impact on injuries, and who we might turn to in our realm of fantasy.

Eddie Howe’s just put pen to paper on a new deal at Bournemouth. The club has just come off a thrashing against Man City. Four key injuries have weakened a squad that was so dominant last season in the second tier of English football. Most worryingly of all for supporters and backers of the club, they now rest just two points above the drop zone with just under a quarter of the season under the belt. Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick officially ended the honeymoon period of every fan and employee of the football club, and now the hard work to not become this seasons Burnley begins.

As FPL players, we get worried when a team or player isn’t on the hype. Bournemouth is now well removed from that bracket. Team value has slightly increased, and it’s conceivable that we no longer need value players. Let’s start by looking at the talking point of the Cherries at this moment in time.

The injured culprits…

Callum Wilson – FOR – (5.6m – 6.8% ownership): 38 points

Max Gradel – MID – (5.8m – 0.5% ownership): 16 points

Tommy Elphick – DEF – (4.4m – 0.1% ownership): 8 points

Tyrone Mings – DEF – (4.2m – 0.5% ownership): 1 point

Of the four major injuries, Wilson was top-dog. Touted as the new Charlie Austin, a second-division striker making a big splash in the BPL, there’s no doubt that the forward could have bagged 20 goals this season, especially since the trend of in-form hype players such as Jamie Vardy already being on nine goals, has continued. A cruciate ligament injury ended Wilson’s campaign on five goals. Reliant on support, that’s what Gradel offered. With three assists before an identical injury, Gradel’s link-up play with Wilson, especially away from home on the counter, was delightful to watch. The pair was constantly on our radar as potential FPL point scorers.

In defence, record signing Tyrone Mings had yet to establish at left or centre back, with Charlie Daniels favoured on the opposite flank of Simon Francis. Despite initial attention and expectation that Mings would automatically walk into the Bournemouth back four, his relegation to the bench for the first three Gameweek’s destroyed his potential as an FPL option. Tommy Elphick was a different case. Captains always play, but an ankle injury means that he’s on a packed injury table heading into the New Year. In the first place, Elphick’s selection was never above the 1.0% mark, with Simon Francis the most desirable defensive options.

There is a double-sided coin to this as FPL players. Firstly two of the three realistic options (Wilson and Gradel) for your teams are no longer available. With attacking potential limited, somewhat, and reinforcements at the back scarce, why would you want to put in Simon Francis, the other Bournemouth FPL option, knowing that the team around him has weakened so dramatically in such a short period of time?

How are Bournemouth lining up?

An away day 5-1 loss to Man City, on the current run of form, isn’t too surprising given that the Cherries are down on their luck in the BPL. With all the money in City’s squad, and the dollar signs in Sterling’s eyes after a first career hat-trick, the writing was on the wall for a comfortable victory. Eddie Howe lined up like many away sides do against City, operating with a lone striker and a deep-lying midfield support that often leaves the target man isolated for long stretches.

At home Bournemouth are operating with two banks of four, with a lone creative player lingering in front of two central midfielders. There is a lot of width to the side, with Adam Smith and Matt Ritchie seeing a lot of the ball. That’s how they scored at home against Watford, exerting a lot of energy to attack the flanks.

The downfall against City won’t concern the camp too much. Even Eddie Howe didn’t seem like he was going to lose too much sleep over the heaps of money in the City squad giving his team of predominately Football League players (from last season) a handsome defeat.

Eddie Howe after Man City (courtesy of BBC Sport):

"It was a difficult afternoon for us. We made a really bad start and gifted them goals which is a recipe for disaster against such a quality team.

"Losing our keeper Artur Boruc just before kick-off was a big blow because he has done so well for us for a long time and he gives the back four a lot of confidence.

"There was a spell in the first half when the score was 3-1 where I thought we were on top but we conceded a crucial goal before half-time. That was a real killer blow in terms of our hopes of getting back into the game in the second half."

Who is the FPL selecting from the Cherries?

  1. Callum Wilson – FOR: 6.8%

  2. Simon Francis – DEF: 3.6%

  3. Matt Ritchie – MID: 1.6%

  4. Adam Smith – DEF: 1.6%

  5. Artur Boruc – GK: 1.3%

  6. Steve Cook – DEF: 0.9%

  7. Sylvain Distin – DEF: 0.7%

On Tuesday 20th October the official Fantasy Premier League website posted their latest Scout article (by FPL favourites Fantasy Football Scout) which said that it’s time to consider ditching the players from newly promoted teams because there are so many better mid-priced options such as Dimitri Payet and Jamie Vardy. Especially since Aguero’s injury frees up at least a few million in every team that chooses to get rid of the Argentinian striker for the month or more of his latest injury.

Looking at this list of Bournemouth’s players selected by the FPL, we’re actually calling into account how many active players have Bournemouth players left. Most of the Callum Wilson ownership is classified as dead weight at this time, whilst every other player than Francis doesn’t even get close to 2% ownership. Going further, out of the active accounts that have any Cherry, how long are they going to remain? This time next month it’s highly likely that Francis’s ownership will decrease from the 3.6% that his ownership currently sits at. Though contrary to this belief, Francis has had more people transferring him in than out. 1404 drafted in the right back for the Man City tie, believe it or not.

The overall concern that we need to ditch the weight of the newly promoted teams, in the case of Bournemouth, is merely hyper-ventilation. As it appears, most, if not all, of the players pushing up the tables will most likely be void of at least one of the teams in the league with a Mansion sponsor.

Who is filling the injury void at Bournemouth?

Glenn Murray – FOR – (5.6m – 0.3% ownership)

Total points: 15

By default, new summer signing Glenn Murray, who had a brilliant spell last season in the BPL, comes in as the replacement for Callum Wilson. The former Palace signing seemed discontented by a stint on the bench for the Eagles, but was prepared to do exactly the same, just in a different coloured shirt. Given that the opportunity has arisen, it’s been a couple of decent weeks, but not great given that Bournemouth have struggled in front of goal.

Missing a penalty at home to Watford in the dying moments of an eventual 1-1 draw helped shape Murray’s potential as an FPL asset. From the get go against the Hornets, every FPL player was reminded of his natural knack to find the back of the net, but also that when it comes to spot kicks, Murray is far less convincing. Missing two last season, and one this, we believe that the penalty factor plays a big decision in whether or not we will choose him for our sides. Jamie Vardy never looks troubled whilst stepping up for a spot-kick, thus we’d back his points potential more than that of Murray.

So, why would you ever pick the Cherries asset? Being a big differential, with less than 1% ownership, given that Murray has scored two in his last two, there is an obvious goal potential, even against the top four sides. It’s just the case of being hesitant on putting in a player who isn’t on the general FPL ‘hype’, with a team who are on the down turn in the league. If we’re looking at immediate alternatives to Murray for the 5-7m price range, you’ve got Ighalo for Watford and an emerging Mbokani for Norwich. Currently, both might jump ahead of Murray in terms of desirability. This leaves the bold and the brave who’d chance Murray, in an effort to outmatch an opponent in a head to head league, or for a weekly gain in classic leagues.

Did you know?

Glenn Murray has scored nine Premier League goals in 22 appearances in 2015, compared to one goal in 16 appearances before this year.

Adam Smith – DEF – (4.0m – 1.6% ownership)

Total points: 6

Value? Check.

Currently playing? Check.

Defender playing as a midfielder? Check.

Adam Smith, the Spurs academy graduate, is potentially the golden goose of FPL players. Miguel Layun for Watford was just that. Playing in an attacking role, but listed as a defender. You’re essentially doubling down on potential points in every single game. Starting from the off, Smith played on the right of midfield, a position usually under the tenure of Matt Ritchie. It’s a role that would’ve almost certainly been occupied by Max Gradel if he hadn’t picked up his cruciate injury at home against Leicester. Opting for a defensive style of play, Adam Smith started ahead of Marc Pugh, and under our general observations of the full-back Smith, we were impressed with what we saw.

The only concern is rotation, especially with Marc Pugh pushing for a starting birth every week.

Constantly making Sagna of City look uncomfortable in left-back was a constant go-to for Bournemouth at the Etihad. Able to drop deeper and sit in with the back four whenever City pressed, Smith was good at both ends of the pitch, and may very well be deployed in a similar role in the future. Spurs are up next, another nearly top-of-the-table side that’ll look to exploit the Cherries exactly how De Bruyne and Sterling did.

It’s just our general insight, but Eddie Howe will want a positive response in both attack and in front of the keeper, be it Boruc or Federici. Against old sides, players usually score. We’ve heard stranger.

Sylvain Distin – DEF – (4.3m – 0.7% ownership)

Total points: 9

Brought into the club for his veteran wisdom and insight of the top flight, between now and Christmas at the very least, Bournemouth are going to heavily rely on the rusting legs of its recognisable and imposing French centre back in a bid to beat the drop. As the natural replacement for Elphick, Distin has played each of the last four games, keeping a single clean sheet at home against Sunderland. Since then it’s been two away defeats, obviously to City, and earlier to Stoke, as well as a home affair against Watford that the side in black and red should have won.

In general, there’s not a lot wrong with Distin, but with a hard run of ten fixtures looming, it’s looking increasingly difficult to pin-point where Bournemouth are going to pick up points. Especially clean sheet points for FPL players that are now used to picking defenders with a 5.0m price tag or higher. It’s time to reassess the want and the need for value options, especially considering that all three of the promoted sides linger just above the relegation zone, and none will fancy Newcastle to stay there for very long after hitting Norwich for six.

With Distin, it’s a trust issue. Not of the player, but of the overall team. We’re doubting that reliance on Distin, and to a smaller extent, Simon Francis at right back, will lead to a goldmine of points. We’d like to think differently, because most have taken to the success story that is Bournemouth, and football fans attending these games would prefer a day out at the seaside ahead of a cold rainy Monday night in Stoke.

Bournemouth’s next ten…

If you hadn’t guessed already, Spurs are the next team to visit the Vitality at the weekend. Tottenham are on European duty this coming Thursday, and there’s always a chance that it can spell trouble in the BPL fixture immediately after. Going to Bournemouth might be a tougher test that what Man City experience last weekend.

Cherries at Home in 2015/16

GW1: Bournemouth 0-1 Aston Villa

GW4: Bournemouth 1-1 Leicester

GW6: Bournemouth 2-0 Sunderland

GW8: Bournemouth 1-1 Watford

A lot of pre-season went into who has the best run of fixtures in the early season, and before we knew Leicester would continue their great run of BPL form, and Sunderland would lack any fight under Advocaat, one could argue that the first four game games were ideal to pick up a large amount of points. As it turns out, it’s been five points from a possible twelve at home. Slightly underwhelming for a side that’ll need everything they can get after looking at the next ten.

Visiting Southampton, Swansea and Chelsea in their next three matches, the defeat at Man City could just be a small slither of what’s to come. With a current, albeit it overstated ‘crisis’, the club will have to show an even greater fighting spirit than the likes of Leicester if they’re to get anything. Home ties against Spurs, Everton and Newcastle are slightly less daunting, but not without three potential banana skins. Finishing off the year with away trips to Arsenal and Leicester, it might be a long Xmas ahead for the Cherries. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this side lingering around the relegation zone for the next few months, and if they’re bottom, we’re sure every sporting journalist will tell you that the side at Christmas struggle to stay in the top flight come May.

All aboard.


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