Bournemouth bounced back from last weekend’s heavy defeat against Burnley to maintain their unbeaten home record with a 2-1 victory as Crystal Palace paid the ultimate penalty for a moment of ill-discipline.
Bournemouth have been impressive with their attacking threat this season, and it did not take them long to assert themselves as the dominant side from the start. The home side came out of the gates quick, nearly scoring in the opening minutes when King failed to reach a low driven cross from Brooks on the right.
The Cherries did not have to wait much longer to find the opening though as good build-up play resulted in the ball finding its way to the feet of Wilson in the Palace box. He knocked it sideways to an onrushing Brooks, whose superbly struck first time shot curled into the top lefthand corner, smacking down off the crossbar, past the stretching Hennessey. It was the first goal Palace had conceded in two games, and was Brooks’ first goal of his Bournemouth career, becoming their youngest ever scorer in the Premier League (21 year and 84 days).
Palace threatened on a few occasions during the first half but rarely troubled Begovic in the Bournemouth goal. The chances were coming more for the home team, and they would have found themselves one-on-one with Hennessey on a few occasions if not for last-ditch interceptions from Sakho. As the TV commentator described, “Sakho’s one of those players that never seem to be look in control of their limbs, but always gets the job done”.
The Palace performance was epitomised by the sight of van Aanholt playing a one-two with Zaha only to crash into an unsuspecting McArthur as he tried to break through the Bournemouth ranks. However, more importantly for the Londoners, they were looking the better side.
Bournemouth fans would justifiably be concerned of not holding onto the lead, as the Cherries had conceded eight goals in their second halves this season, and Palace’s new-found attacking play would make that nine when they found the equaliser ten minutes into the second half. Persistent work from Zaha in the middle caused trouble as the ball rebounded off Meyer back to him, and he was able to slot the ball through to van Aanholt who cut back and rifled the ball into the roof of the net with his weaker foot. The replays did show that the Dutchman was fractionally offside, but the assistant on the line didn’t raise his flag.
The second half was very end to end, with each side not looking to settle for just the one point.
Then the home side put on the afterburners, as in a span of a couple of minutes they had two glorious chances to retake the lead. Firstly, Fraser dispossessed van Aanholt and burst forward alongside Wilson, with just Tomkins to pass. The Scotsman drew the lone Palace defender wide and slipped the ball to his striker who found himself alone in the box, but he failed to find any the goal, only finding the legs of the Palace keeper. Then the substitutes combined and forced a corner from a Stanislas cross that met the head of Gosling, which Hennessey put round the post.
But then Bournemouth did find their breakthrough when the referee blew his whistle after seeing Sakho raise his arm into the face of Lerma, sending the Bournemouth midfielder to the ground, and awarding the Cherries a penalty. The spot kick was cooly finished by Stanislas, who had only been on the pitch a few minutes, as he watched Hennessey dive to his left as he slotted the ball down the middle of the goal, giving the home side all three points.
The Weemen of Bournemouth
Its certainly true when they say “size isn’t everything”, and that the “best things come in small packages”, and nobody knows that more than fans of the south coast side. With Ryan Fraser on the left and David Brooks on the right, Bournemouth have quite the dynamic duo.
Fraser has been a revelation so far this season, delivering on the promise he showed in spells last season, with three goals and two assists in the opening couple of months of the season. Brooks has gone somewhat under the radar, with all the attention focusing on his Scottish teammate.
A £10 million summer signing from Sheffield United, Brooks has started all but one of the Premier League games this season, and looked threatening with his pace and intensity. He’s averaged 2.4 shots on goal across his Premier League appearances this campaign, and keeping up an impressive 75% pass accuracy rate. Although he has only seen the full 90 minutes once so far, in the 4-0 defeat to Burnley, he will certainly be one of the leading bright young lights of both Bournemouth and Wales’ campaigns this year.
Palace’s Poor November Prep / Much needed points
It has been well documented that Palace have a horrendous sequence of fixtures from the end of October and throughout November. They face Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United in a four-match span that would cause concern for any team. With a more than favourable fixture list to start the campaign, they have only managed to accumulate seven points from a possible twenty-one.
Their form has been very up and down, having put in excellent performances in the opening weeks of the season, but failing to impress in recent weeks. They have only won once since the opening weekend victory at Fulham, and even that win at Huddersfield could be seen as a very fortunate three points, as the Terriers were by far the better side that day.
They now have to welcome an impressive Wolves side and visit Goodison Park where Everton have improved since the return of Richarlison, before the home game against Arsenal. It has become vitally important that they grab maximum points from those games, because they will not want to go into that run of fixtures in November needed to pick up a majority of the twelve available points. Otherwise, they could find themselves still languishing on seven points, when the calendars tick over into December, and another season of battling relegation would ensue.
Bournemouth’s Leaky Defence
For all the praise that Bournemouth have, quite rightly, been getting for their attacking assets, their defence has been anything but praiseworthy. After tonight’s game, they have let in 12 goals, which although it is the same amount of goals that Manchester United have conceded, means that they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in any of the league games since the opening weekend.
Now, four of those did come in one away game at Burnley, so it’s not like they are shipping many goals a game, but with leaking the odd goal or two each game, it puts added pressure on their forwards to bail them out like they did tonight. They have now scored the same amount of goals as they have conceded, and with the ambitions of the club to progress up the league and stay away from a relegation scrap, a zero goal difference will not suffice.
Having said this, Bournemouth have had their best start to a season in the Premier League, having got four wins in the first seven games, a task that took them till the middle of November to achieve last season. They now lie in seventh place, only a couple of points off the top four. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a Bournemouth fan who thinks they’ll break into the Champions League positions this year, but if they carry on this impressive form, they could certainly start believing in a top half finish and even replicating Burnley’s 2017/18 season.
Man of the Match: Nathan Ake
The Bournemouth defender had an imposing presence in the game, as he won his aerial duels, and marshalled the backline. He was unlucky to have the clean sheet wiped out with the goal being offside, but he showed that he has all the tools to be a top-class centre-back, and solidify the Bournemouth defence.