Tactically speaking - AFC Bournemouth

In-depth analysis of how AFC Bournemouth might attack this afternoon’s Barclays Premier League fixture – with WhoScored.com
AFC Bournemouth won promotion on the back of a possession-based attacking style of play that yielded 98 goals in 46 Championship matches.

A return of zero from their opening two Barclays Premier League fixtures suggests Eddie Howe’s side are struggling to impose that same style in the top flight.

In reality, though, while the goals have so far proved hard to come by, Bournemouth are sticking to their principles, passing and creating chances galore.

In their two matches, which have ended in narrow 1-0 defeats by Aston Villa and Liverpool, Bournemouth have averaged 52 per cent possession and completed 81 per cent of their passes.

The Cherries have passed the ball 996 times in their opening two games, with 816 of those passes being classified as ‘short’, and just 124 as ‘long balls’.

That possession has led to 24 shots on goal, with 16 of them being taken from inside the penalty area, but only four of them have been on target.

If Bournemouth are to survive this season, they will need to improve those ratios and start to turn their ability to keep the ball into an ability to score goals.

The most important attacking figure in the Bournemouth side is right winger Matt Ritchie. The 25-year-old Scot is a determined character who is never afraid to unleash a shot on goal, as he did in hitting the post at Anfield on Monday evening.

As is the fashion these days, Ritchie is played ‘inverted’ and will often favour cutting inside onto his left foot over going outside his full-back.

Ritchie and fellow winger Max Gradel, who debuted at Liverpool, are also keen to combine with their full-backs and get crosses into the opposition penalty area. The two widemen and full-backs – Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels – have combined to put 42 balls into the box in just two matches, but just seven of them have found teammates.

Bournemouth are not a physically imposing team in attack, with 6’0 Callum Wilson and 6’1 Joshua King leading the line in their opening two matches, so deliveries are more likely to be low crosses, cut-backs or through balls for the mobile attacking pair to latch onto.
Playing with a 4-4-2 formation, there is a lot of pressure on Bournemouth’s two central midfielders to perform.

Andrew Surman is an experienced all-rounder, with decent mobility and the ability to pick a pass. Alongside him, Northern Irishman Eunan O’Kane came into the starting XI at Anfield and impressed with his positional play and willingness to join in the attack by making runs from deep, with or without the ball at his feet.

At the back, captain Tommy Elphick has become Bournemouth’s leader and organiser. The 27-year-old is not physically dominant at 5’11, but has the athleticism and competitiveness to deal with strikers and markers far bigger than himself. He also possesses good concentration levels.

Alongside him, Steve Cook is slightly taller and equally adept in aerial situations, while both Bournemouth centre-backs are comfortable with the ball at their feet.

In goal, Polish veteran Artur Boruc is an imposing figure at 6’4 and possesses fine reflexes.

Possible team: (4-4-2) Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, O’Kane, Surman, Gradel, King, Wilson