This week Peter sits down for a Q&A with Cherries fan Steve Borg.
What did you make of Bournemouth`s performance on Saturday?
Performance on Saturday against palace was a mixture – confident and progressive with the ball at times, dominant in the centre of the park, yet undermining this by being capable of horrendous defensive moments – summing up our so far inconsistent season, during which we’ve very rarely been able to perform to our highest standards for long periods. Our wingers continue to frustrate, leading to questions about whether we should be playing with a midfield 4 at all, or a narrower 4-3-3 or 5-3-2 with wing backs instead.
Jermaine Defoe has had a few injury problems this season but scored on Saturday, do you expect him to start more games over the next few weeks?
Defoe has had a frustrating start to his 2nd spell with us and his performances and involvement in games have disappointed a lot of fans who’d started to question the manager persisting with him playing so ineffectively, and while the side failed to play to his strengths. It was a mixture of relief and excitement to see him bag a couple last weekend and see him hitting one which showed his true goal scoring instincts still remain. He’ll be involved for sure over the busy schedule over the coming weeks – who wouldn’t involve him if his confidence is back, with hopes he can put a run together and start putting chances away more regularly. But Eddie Howe will also rotate and I expect to see Callum Wilson come in to start for a game or 2 over the next month to keep both fresh and hungry and add to the competition for places. I’m a firm believer that EH would want to pick Defoe in his favoured starting eleven, so last weekend’s brace has taken any pressure off the manager who looked like he was sticking with him despite some completely ineffective performances earlier in the season.
Bournemouth haven`t really caught fire this season as of yet sitting in 14th in the league, what has been the main difference from last season?
Main Difference from last season in my opinion is too many players being out of form at the same time and not getting anywhere near the high standards they set last season, and the lack of any strengthening in those positions in the transfer market to make up for it. EH is incredibly loyal – sometimes a quality but at others, a weakness – and his reluctance to acknowledge players in decline needing to be replaced or benched, creates much debate amongst supporters. There’s a feeling amongst some sections of the supporters that a few players who were heroes getting us up to the PL and keeping up, might have reached the peak of their powers and that we should be investing in better quality in those positions. The form of Joshua King compared with last season, plus finding a settled back 4 to play with Daniels and the usually excellent Ake have also contributed to our form suffering – as well as EH’s reluctance to use Lewis Cook and then keep him in the side after a strong few games in place of Arter. Creativity has been a real issue for us this season, but with both Lewis Cook and a fit and firing Junior Stanislas on the pitch we have real ammunition to be able to unlock defences.
EH says he aims to win every single game and sets up his side to do that. Our form at home has generally been poor, but in a few of the games against the big 6 sides in the league this season (Man. City (h) Spurs (a) Chelsea (h) we’ve gone 5 at the back or been far more disciplined in our shape with fullbacks not commuting so high up the pitch and looked far less likely to concede, staying in the game for long periods and on another day, if we’d taken a chance or two, would’ve won valuable points from those games.
Where would you like the manager to strengthen his squad in January if possible?
In January I’d like to see us resign Wilshere, a better winger, preferably left, than any of the others at the club as in my opinion Stanislas has been the only one worth a regular starting place this season and he’s spent a few weeks injured. We also need a better right back option as we’re defensively weak down that side and although he won’t, I’d love to see EH sign a matic/kante type midfielder to make us more solid through the middle.
What are your score predictions and why?
We’ll do well to concede only a couple to your free-scoring side, so only the blindest optimist would predict anything more than a score draw, probably 2-2. That’s a big IF we can exploit any fragility in your central defence with our pace pulling your defenders out wide to create space centrally, or get Josh King’s strength and power to come out on top in a one on one situation. If Klopp could continue to rotate and leave Salah, Firmino and Mane on the bench while giving Coutinho the weekend off for a bit of Christmas shopping and a mulled wine that’d be much appreciated.