An in-depth analysis of how the Cherries might approach Tuesday’s Barclays Premier League fixture...
Having signed Benik Afobe from Wolverhampton Wanderers since the weekend, it will be interesting to see how Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe approaches Tuesday’s game.
The former Arsenal youngster is the perfect type of forward to play the lone striker role, as he is blessed with a bit of pace, strength, the ability to hold the ball up or run in behind, and decent finishing.
If Afobe does come straight into the starting XI, he will almost certainly replace Glenn Murray, who started the last Barclays Premier League game at home to his former club Crystal Palace.
Whether Afobe starts or not, Howe is certain to stick with the 4-1-4-1 formation which has served the Cherries so well in recent weeks.
In that system, another former Wolves player, Andrew Surman, will play as a the sitting midfield player, with the talented Matt Ritchie and ex-Hammer Junior Stanislas providing creativity down the right and left wings respectively.
Ritchie and Stanislas will both play inverted and narrow, meaning they are more likely to cut inside onto their stronger left and right feet respectively, than try to go outside their full-backs.
The wide players will be strongly supported by their full-backs, Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels, both of whom are athletic former Tottenham youngsters who will often play higher up the pitch and midfield shield Surman.
With Ritchie and Stanislas playing so narrow, Smith and Daniels will often overlap, meaning the opposition wide players need to retain their discipline and track back to avoid an overload.
When Bournemouth attack, therefore, they do it in numbers! Shape-wise, the Cherries leave only centre-halves Simon Francis and Simon Cook and Surman to defend, with the other seven outfield players surging forward.
Style-wise, Bournemouth love to play short, sharp passing football, with goalkeeper Artur Boruc playing the ball out to the back four or Surman as often as possible. While this can invite pressure from the opposition, Howe has stuck to his philosophy and it has paid-off during his side’s recent run of improved results.
Defensively, with Bournemouth’s full-backs flying forward at every opportunity, this can create space for the opposition to exploit as the centre-backs split wide to receive possession from Boruc.
In front of them, Surman is the hub of the wheel, both in terms of receiving the ball from the defenders and goalkeeper and shielding the defence by marking the opposition’s creative central midfielder.
Central midfield will be filled by the energetic Dan Gosling, and it remains to be seen if Harry Arter will keep his place after being replaced at half-time against Crystal Palace. If Arter is left out, Irishman Eunan O’Kane would likely come into the side, and he is a neat and tidy player who is brave and creative in equal measure.
Probable starting XI: (4-1-4-1) Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Ritchie, Gosling, O’Kane, Stanislas, Afobe