Written by Waz afcb
So, for the first time in a while, we enter a game with a sense of optimism following the cup exploits of midweek. Woodgate made four changes to that team, most notably bringing in Long and Wilshere for the impressive midweek performers Billing and Surridge. Hard to criticise him for bringing in Wilshere given his undoubted quality but the decision not to start Surridge must have left a few scratching their heads.
The game started off as a cagey and scrappy affair and in truth never really evolved from this. Both teams looked very solid but not very likely to break the deadlock. That said the early moments did belong to us. A clever short corner routine led to Stanislas bending a peach of an effort just wide of the far post, before a lovely turn in the middle of the park by Wilshere released Danjuma out wide, only for his first-time cross to be agonisingly too high for the fully stretched head of Shane Long, who could only direct his header tamely over the bar. Forest had flashes too but these were mainly efforts from distance, most notably one routine effort that Begovic spilt into the path of the forest attacker but thankfully managed to recover just in the nick of time. It was a half in which we enjoyed a lot of what I like to call ‘comfortable’ possession, very easy and slow-paced possession in areas of the pitch that is never going to threaten the opposition. Forest to their credit did maintain a rigid shape but I can’t help but feel that we weren’t doing enough to try and break them. On the few occasions that we did manage to work the ball into decent areas it was noticeable how outnumbered we were in the oppositions penalty area. Long was often drifting wide into the channels, which would be fine if we had someone vacating this space which we had left, unfortunately, we were playing with two wide attackers who like to drop deep to pick up the ball, and without a midfielder who is comfortable breaking into the penalty area. This meant that for all of our possession, forest were very rarely under any threat. But hey, there’s always the second half!…
Ah, the second half. I’m struggling to report on this half without repeating myself tbh. I am genuinely struggling to remember anything happening at all from our perspective. The same problems that plagued us in the first half persisted again, and the game just fizzled out into a complete non-event. Woodgate persisted with the completely non-effective Long until the 80th minute and by this point, it was too late, Surridge did at least look to get into the box when he came on. The only chance of note in this half fell to forest, Glenn Murray flicking a corner on at the near post which was kneed off the line by Ben Pearson via the chest of Begovic, and that was about it really. The fact that the referee only added 2 minutes onto this thrilling encounter says a lot as to how much of a non-event this really was.
To summarise, we experienced similar issues to what we have been experiencing all season. A side full of very capable footballers for this level but which badly lacked the correct balance. Never have I seen a truer example of the phrase ‘the best individuals don’t necessarily make the best team’ as I have watched us this season. We have players that could thrive in the right circumstances but the balance of the overall team is just all wrong, as it has been many times this season. A few of the most glaring deficiencies:
-Are Wilshere, Lerma and Pearson are the best three midfielders? Probably, yes. Do they function to provide enough positive forward momentum and attacking threat? The jury is out. Both Lerma and Pearson are destroyers who like to break up play and play the game at a naturally slow pace while in possession. Wilshere likes to link play and certainly zips the ball around quicker than the other two but he needs players who are looking to break the lines to be in any way effective. This midfield could be effective I believe but not when played with the front three from today. Both Stanislas and Danjuma like to drop deep to collect the ball, and Long seems to naturally drift wide into the channels to link play. The balance of the players we had on the pitch meant that all of our football was being played in front of forest with nobody in a Bournemouth shirt looking to stretch them and make things difficult, resulting in an uneventful bore draw that won’t leave long in the memory. As to how we can address the balance issues that have plagued our season so far? That, in my opinion, is what will define the tenure of the new man coming in, if he can discover the right blend then we can quite easily go on a winning run, if not it’s quite conceivable that we could see very little change at all. Either way, it’s going to be interesting…
Man of the match against Forest
-Begovic- 6 did not have a lot to do and didn’t even deal with that convincingly
-Smith- 7.5 one of our better players today. A number of good overlapping runs and good energy. Not his fault there was often no one in the box.
Rico- 7 solid enough. Couldn’t cross a road to save his life though.
CCV- 8 MOTM solid. Barely put a foot wrong. Please sign him permanently.
Kelly- 6 typical Lloyd, lots of driving forward only to turn around and pass backwards. Didn’t make any glaring errors.
Lerma and Pearson- both 6 provided good protection to the defence, very slow in moving the ball but I think it’s just their game.
Wilshere- 6 tried to make things happen but very little going on around him.
Danjuma- 4 didn’t even notice he was playing until around the 20th minute.
Stanislas- 6 as per Wilshere. Needs movement around him.
Long- 4 works hard but Fletch would be more of a goal threat.
I thought Kelly and Carter-Vickers were both solid and could form a decent partnership.
Both strong and both have plenty of pace.
Rico defensively doesn’t pick up his man from set-pieces .not good enough in a million years. I see zemura was on the bench.
With both Pearson and Lerma sitting in front of 2 centre-halves, that is a license for everyone else to bomb forward. – Join the conversation, click here.