It is time for the first of the promoted sides to be evaluated, and who better to start with than the champions.
The ‘Cherries’ are into the top flight for the first time in their 125 year history after securing their second promotion in three seasons. Eddie Howe has lead them for the entire duration bringing stability (19 clean sheets last season) as well as attacking ability (95 goals last season)*
*Please remember they played 46 games in the Championship
I don’t particularly enjoy looking at the Championship statistics as it’s a level below the Premier League, making it rather hard to compare. It will be used in the player analysis below but remember these numbers are likely to reduce across the board as the playing level is increased.
*Likely starting XI*
Artur Boruc (4.5) made 37 starts on loan start season and looks to be the likely starter in ‘nets’. The Australian Adam Federici has come in to challenge Boruc for the position. Boruc has proven his ability at Premier League level before so is likely to start the season. At 37 years of age we have seen Schwarzer, Friedel & Jussi Jaaskelainen nail down starting roles but any slip ups and the Australian is more then capable of coming in to start.
Simon Francis (4.5) at Right Back is a player in the Ivanovic mould, only not quite as good. He’s a big lad but gets into attacking areas. With 6 assists and a goal last season he managed to get forward quite a lot, linking well with Matt Richie. He is the pick of the defenders for attacking returns but much like Trippier last season he will struggle to pick up consistent points.
Steve Cook managed to be a regular threat from set pieces and at 4.5 is worth a look as a differential to Francis. Promoted sides are generally not the place to look for defensive differentials but with 5 goals and 1 assist he is worth a look. Especially being the youngest player in the back 4, has the most potential to ‘kick on’ in his career.
Tommy Elphick (4.5) is club captain and therefore nailed on. He pitched in with a goal and two assists but look to the two above. Charlie Daniels (4.5) will have to fight it out with new signing Tyrone Mings (4.5) for the left back position. Considering that Bournemouth spent 8 million on him, I expect to see Mings start.
I really like the look of this back four as they have a good balance of experience, attacking ability and youth across the four positions. Bournemouth do have some tempting fixtures to start the season. For those that are thinking about wildcarding early a Bournemouth defender may well be worth a look. Distin (4.5) has also been brought in but I can see him ‘cover’ to start with.
Matt Richie (6.0) is the man to look at in this side and he has been priced accordingly. He scored an impressive 15 goals and 17 assists last season firing more shots and creating more chances then any of his team mates. He does like to come infield and attack (which I can see happening in the opening fixtures). The negative is Bournemouth may struggle in this division and the man is just 5 foot 5 tall. Will he be up for the physicality of the Premier League? Only time will tell.
Harry Arter (9 goals, 3 assists) will start in the middle of the field. He comes in at 5.0 but I believe there is better options out there at this price bracket (Daniels of Newcastle, Sinclair of Villa even Ibe of Liverpool).
Andrew Surman (3 goals, 6 assists) has been a strong shout for some in the 4.5 bracket. He tends to play as the deepest of the 4 midfielders. Additionally we do see players numbers reduce in the premier league (they are not going to score 96 goals) so I would be looking elsewhere (Wanyama perhaps).
Marc Pugh (5.0) plays on the left side of midfield and chipped in with a solid 9 goals and 5 assists last season. Expect him to be solid but those numbers will reduce in the Premier League. Christian Atsu (5.5) from Chelsea on loan is a chance to challenge him for a first team spot.
Callum Wilson is the talk of the town at 5.5 after scoring an impressive 20 goals and 7 assists. The 23 year old has been a consistent scorer during his career. He managed 21 goals in league one for Coventry City followed by the 20 goals for Bournemouth last season after a 3 million pound move. He is not on penalties which is always a negative. After watching some footage he looks to be a poacher of goals. Many of his finishes are inside the box thanks to his excellent positioning. He also wins a few penalties thanks to his pace and quick feet. He’s not a big lad (5’11) and is rather lean so may find it tough going up against some of the central defenders in the PL. He is however lightening quick. Certainly one to watch for that third striker spot, a little risky in my eyes though.
Yann Kermorgant (5.0) provides a good foil to Wilson, chipping in with 15 goals and 10 assists for the season. The tall Frenchman (In the mould of Giroud) is approaching the end of his career at 33 years of age but is shaping as an important member of the squad. He is the main penalty taker in the team if he starts. Rantie (4.5) is the only other striker on the books, he struggled to settle with 2 goals in 12 sub appearances last season.
With Kermorgant carrying a knock approaching the new season it highlights the lack of depth in Bournemouth’s squad. The manager has been quite vocal that they lack ‘strength’ in the centre of the park, not just in numbers but in terms of physicality. This will put their defence under a lot of pressure during the season. Additionally with Pitman (13 goals, 2 assists) leaving the club they only have 3 recognized strikers in the squad. For a team that enjoyed playing two strikers it is odd to see no one else come into the side (there is still time).
The manager Eddie Howe’s thoughts:
“You can see from my track record that the guys who have performed so well for us this season will get an opportunity to perform at the next level. I don’t believe in wholesale changes in the close season, I don’t believe in not giving players a chance to show whether they are good enough. Ultimately they will have to take that opportunity but it was the same from League One to the Championship – we stuck with the majority of the squad. Of course there will be subtle changes – there will be players coming in and players leaving – but the core group will remain the same.”
Very much the attitude that Burnley stuck with last season. Although they weren’t able to stay in the league they did manage to play the same line up for most of the season and provide some fantasy value. Ritchie or Wilson could shape as a Danny Ings like option with Francis similar to Trippier.
Promoted teams are always interesting as it is rather hard to assess the level of the team. Over the years we have seen many teams achieve great things in their promotion season but more often then not they fail to live up to the standard. Bournemouth do have an attractive looking start to the season (first 6 fixtures) with Ritchie, Wilson, Francis & Boruc the standout options in each position. For those who tend to wildcard early it would be advisable to consider one or two Bournemouth players in your squads, my tip is Richie (6.0).