A new Lys of Life…
3rd February 2018, 3pm
From the beautiful game at Stamford Bridge to a pitched battle against Stoke……nothing fazes the current crop of Cherries with another three points picked off. It was a day to remember for French striker Lys Mousset who notched his first league goal to win it.
Such are the vagaries of the Premier League today was arguably the harder of the two challenges with Bournemouth`s struggles against more physical and tall teams well documented. Lambert strategically placed journeyman beanpole Crouch into the middle of it all and his peeling off to sit on Fraser provided much entertainment around the ground, resembling some form of Victorian circus act. Only fake dumbells and moustaches were missing……….
Eddie unsurprisingly kept to the same team that had created a lifetime of memories on Wednesday but they were slow out of the traps. Stoke had clearly been told to be all elbows and cynical little kicks and got right into the face of Bournemouth. Shaqiri popped in his normal fat wasp performance with Crouch as his 'pint of shandy` to buzz endlessly off. He nearly scored but Steve Cook made an amazing goal line clearance from his low drive.
He didn`t have long to wait though. When Bournemouth had found out they were facing Crouch they would have concentrated on his ability at crosses…….with all eyes on him the second smallest man on the pitch - SHAQIRI - stole in for a rare well placed header past Begovic.
Cook departed with a stretched ham-string and Eddie had two choices…. retain the system and throw Simpson on or move to a flat back four and pop King on. He did the latter and is probably glad now!
It took a little while (and a half time team talk) to sort it though as the rest of the first half was very disjointed. King was off his game, Stan and Wilson`s first touches let them down terribly at crucial moments. There was one great chance when Ibe met King`s cross but a phenomenal goal line clearance from Pieters saved the day.
The rest of the half passed in a flurry of fouls, irritating refereeing decisions, Stoke yellow cards and one smart Butland save to deny Stanislas from a free kick whipped in near post.
HT Bournemouth 0 Stoke 1
Eddie obviously did some organising at half time because Bournemouth were a completely different proposition from the word go. King burst into the box and Butland made a great save away to his right to deny the Norwegian. Bournemouth were much brighter and pressing higher but as Eddie said afterwards…..chances were few and far between.
With this in mind he went for his most attacking formation removing the quiet Stan and popping on Mousset. With him, Wilson, Ibe and King up front it wasn`t great for any defensive purists in the crowd and Stoke as a result looked dangerous on the break - Crouch heading off the top of the cross-bar when more composure would have sealed it.
Still - as an attacking force it was hard to argue with, or indeed defend against and an action packed fifteen minute spell broke the pottery. It started with some clear cut creation…..Mousset was running like a demented bull and picking passes at the end of it……Wilson dragged a great opportunity wide from one such break. A goal was coming and arrived when Gosling burst into the box without ever really having control and KING swooped onto his pass to cleverly side foot across Butland for the equaliser.
It was all go now and the winner arrived after another play breaking up niggly Stoke foul. Great to see one punished and punished it was when MOUSSET rose at the far post to expertly head back-across Butland from Ibe`s delivery. That was it from both sides really as Stoke huffed and puffed and we headed to the corner flag with regularity to secure our first double of the season.
FT Bournemouth 2 Stoke 1
Begovic 6 - Not much to do but kicking poor.
Cook 7 - Not on long but what a goal line clearance.
Francis 6 - Caught a few times but generally solid.
Ake 7 - Tough opposition but strong in air and on ground.
Fraser 7 - Great display at both right back and right wing back.
Cook 9 - Outstanding game controlling the pace and prompting.
Gosling 7 - Another manful job of the ugly stuff.
Daniels 6 - Moved up and down well against the tricky Shakiri
Ibe 7 - some clever play linking and great set piece delivery.
Wilson 6 - Quieter than recent on key moments but still put a shift in
Stanislas 6 - Struggled to make an impact but kept trying.
(King 7 - Took ages to get going but looked back to old form at end)
(Mousset 7 - barnstorming defence unsettling effort and a goal!)
The return to 4-4-2 was a brave call, I think Eddie worried Simpson was ready for Crouch without prep and a starting place…. It took the team awhile to gel back to it and it was good that we were chasing the game as the amount of players we had not tracking back was alarming but immaterial as Stoke didn`t commit anyone forwards in numbers.
It took Mousset`s different approach to unsettle Stoke though and we now have some frightening options when you stop and think about it. Who would you pick out of Fraser, Ibe, King, Stanislas and Wilson as a front three? I haven`t a clue who I would……and we haven`t even mentioned Lys or the returning Defoe. No wonder Benik shuffled off.
That wave of attacking is great to watch and it sealed the day today on a match where the players looked a little physically hungover to begin with. Two more wins and we will be nearly there - a remarkable turn-around. With Huddersfield and Newcastle up next Eddie will be looking to land this while we are on a roll……….
Report by Neil Dawson