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Opposition Analysis: Bournemouth - Howe Do We Beat Eddie's Men?

Can Sunderland pop their cherry against a solid and hardworking Bournemouth side?

Sunderland v A.F.C. Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The Story So Far

After a shaky start that saw Bournemouth pick up just four points from their opening five games, the Cherries have hit back to take eight from their following five, including a 6-1 hammering of Hull. And despite a sizeable investment in the playing squad this summer, manager Eddie Howe has largely stuck with players who helped Bournemouth to finish in 16th last season, and indeed reach the Premier League in the first place.

The Cherries were brought back down to earth with a bang following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough last time out, but Howe will view this as the perfect fixture to get his side back on track.

The Manager - Eddie Howe

Heralded as a future England boss and regarded as one of the best young coaching talents in European football, Eddie Howe has overseen Bournemouth’s remarkable rise from the bottom to the top of English league football. A popular player in two spells in Dorset (fans even raised the money to secure his permanent transfer from Portsmouth), Howe was forced to retire through injury in 2007. He was appointed as caretaker manager of the club in December 2008, and impressed enough to be awarded the job on a permanent basis. After guiding the Cherries to League One, Howe departed for Burnley in January 2011 before returning to Bournemouth 19 months later. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Key Player - Callum Wilson

The former Coventry striker enjoyed an excellent start to last season after firing Bournemouth to promotion with 20 Championship goals. Five goals in his first seven Premier League games had put him in contention for an England call-up before a ruptured ACL left him out until April. The Cherries showed their faith in Wilson by handing him a new four year deal in July and he has began to repay that with three goals so far this season. His pace and movement will pose a sizeable threat to Sunderland’s ailing backline.

Strengths

Looking at the stats, nothing stands out to suggest why Bournemouth have enjoyed relative success in the Premier League. They suggest that Bournemouth are an average, middle of the road Premier League side, and with the Cherries currently sitting in 10th place, it would be hard to argue against that.

One area in which Bournemouth do excel in, though, and something that stats cannot really explain, is their commitment to hard work and team play. Their team is not made up of superstars, by any means, or even players you would consider to be good, top level players - on paper at least. But the likes of Harry Arter, Adam Smith, Charlie Daniels and Steve Cook helped Bournemouth to get to the dance, and their familiarity with Howe’s style of play and expectations has seen them stay there. Unlike Sunderland, who look like they have just met each other for the first time every Saturday, Bournemouth are the embodiment of a team. The players have bought into Howe’s ideologies and look willing to run through brick walls for him.

And despite the league’s second lowest average aerial duels won (12.3% per game), 13 of Bournemouth’s goals have come via the head this season. With their tendency to play down the wings, Sunderland will have to be conscious of preventing any easy crossing opportunities, although that seems unlikely to happen based on the evidence so far this season.

The immediate concern for David Moyes should be the pace that Bournemouth have in attacking areas. Callum Wilson, Jordon Ibe, Josh King, Junior Stanislas and Max Gradel are all quick and comfortable with the ball at their feet. With Howe’s direct approach and Sunderland’s leaky defence and weak midfield, Bournemouth’s attacking options look set to cause some real problems for the Lads.

Weaknesses

It sounds stupid to say (you can’t take goals away, after all), but without their six goal haul against Hull, Bournemouth would have scored just six goals in nine games. They’re typically a low scoring side - in fact, they’ve only scored more than one goal in two league games this season. Games are often tight and Bournemouth rely on their spirit and teamwork to get the better of their opponent. Unfortunately for Moyes, Sunderland are likely to be outfought, and with their porous defence, Bournemouth have a great chance to add to their tally.

While Bournemouth have scored 13 of their goals via the head, almost 30% of their goals against have been conceded this way. The good news for Eddie Howe is that Sunderland are one of four teams yet to score a headed goal, so Bournemouth seem unlikely to have much to worry about in that respect.

Their goals conceded tally of 14 is nowhere near the worst in the division, but 11 of those have been conceded from within the penalty area. With Sunderland taking 56% of their shots from within this zone, the joint-2nd highest in the league, Moyes may see this as an area in which his side can potentially hurt the hosts.

Tactics

Howe looks to keep things simple and solid, alternating between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 setup. With arguably the division’s worst side visiting Dean Court, it’s likely that Howe will go with a 4-2-3-1 and allow Jack Wilshere more attacking freedom between the lines.

Their style of play is largely true to the traditional 4-2-3-1 style. Fullbacks Charlie Daniels and Adam Smith rank highly in tackles and interceptions per game, along with average passes made, and are expected to start attacks after dispossessing the opposition. The midfield two typically sit tight and look to cut off the opposition’s passing angles - Andrew Surman leads the team with 2.7 interceptions per game - although Harry Arter is given some freedom to advance forward.

Looking at statistics, Bournemouth appear to be an average side in terms of winning the ball back. Unlike some teams who employ an aggressive press, however, Bournemouth look to press in a passive aggressive, almost false press manner. The emphasis is on closing passing angles and lanes, therefore forcing the opposition into making an error, rather than actively seeking to engage them at the point of attack.

When in attack, Bournemouth look to play in wide areas to exploit the pace of the likes of King and Ibe. They, along with Sunderland, attack through the middle least regularly. With Daniels and Smith looking to overlap as often as possible, Bournemouth’s wingers often look to cut inside to create scoring chances. With one of the worst crossing accuracies in the league (30/171), it’s understandable. Despite this, Sunderland’s poor defence, particularly from crosses, may see the hosts look to exploit this area.

Likely Line-Up

Bournemouth - Football tactics and formations

Last Season

Sunderland ensured that they were part of history when they visited Dean Court last season. Unfortunately for Dick Advocaat, his side were on the wrong end of it. Two goals in five minutes (in the first nine minutes of the game), including a stunning volley from Matt Ritchie, saw Bournemouth win their first Premier League game at home.

Younes Kaboul was also sent off in a miserable performance which saw Sunderland fall to the bottom of the table.

Benik Afobe put Bournemouth ahead in January’s return fixture, but a Patrick van Aanholt goal on the stroke of half time earned a point for Sam Allardyce, whose side remained in the relegation zone.