Date: 1st January 2017 at 9:19am
Written by: Neil Dawson

A virtuoso midfield performance from Jack Wilshere inspired Bournemouth to stroll to victory against a demoralised Swansea City…. and end the year in style.

The trip to the principality was like a Hammer House set full of swirling mists and dripping rain but the true horror lay ahead for Swansea fans whose team are as bad as anything we have seen in the Premier League. They faced a Bournemouth side that made three changes with Ake returning at the back for Smith, Stanislas entering the fray instead of Gosling and Afobe starting ahead of King. Wilson kicking his heels on the bench again prompting more rumours around his future.

It was a much more familiar feel with Surman and Arter restored in their partnership and Wilshere back at the apex behind Afobe. As a result everything flowed much better and with Swansea uncertain and giving the ball away the team settled into early dominance. Stanislas tested Fabianski early on twice with stinging drives as the away team found so much space on the edge of the area.

Swansea were playing sporadically on the break and a great cross from Fer should have caused more problems but Llorente watched it cross the six yard box. Such is the way at the bottom that Bournemouth quickly punished it. Fraser was looking lively and he got to the by-line and crossed, Fabianski and Mawson struggled to keep the ball out and it bounced out to AFOBE six yards out to turn and fire home.

From that moment on came half an hour of majestic football straddling the break. Wilshere was at the heart of all of it in another mini masterclass. His wonderful pass to Stanislas saw the returning winger sweep home but from an offside position. He then took centre role in a fantastic Tikitaka move of quick passing that would have been a goal of the season contender had the final pass not been too quick for Arter.

That move was just a rehearsal though for the goal right on the whistle, Arter, Wilshere and Stanislas combining with great speed and movement for FRASER to bundle home.

HT Swansea 0 AFCB 2

Nothing changed after the break – the quick football too much for an abject Swansea who just looked like they wanted the game to end. Stanislas and Afobe both missed gilt edged chances both from great Wilshere passes and the chance to totally relax had gone……for a bit.

Swansea had made three early changes and gradually started to get further up the pitch and test Bournemouth’s defence. They brought on a number 62 (always a sign you are in trouble) – the Rodney Trotteresque McBurnie and he tested Boruc for the first time with a downward header the big Pole grabbed at the second attempt.

Bournemouth were firmly ensconsed in what the experts call ‘game management’ Lots of passing sideways while conserving energy and not gambling people forwards to make sure the 2-0 was preserved. It was all starting to look a little anodyne though and Howe made a couple of changes removing both wingers for Smith and King to try and put some pace up front.

Amidst the pleasant tedium that had set in there was one more highlight to enjoy…..Swansea got a corner and…….we scored from it! Boruc collecting easily, his quick release found Daniels and his delightful curled pass released KING. The flying Norwegian is never caught in this position and he comfortably sidefooted home to put the icing on the cake.

FT Swansea 0 AFCB 3

Boruc 7 – Nothing to do…….did it well

Francis 6 – Gave it away more than usual, good going forward
Cook 7 – Total Control
Ake 8 – Very composed and great with the ball at his feet.
Daniels 7 – Good forwards and backwards

Fraser 7 – Lively and buzzy throughout, scored and set up.
Arter 6 – Busy but still not firing. May improve now points back to 0.
Surman 7 – Did the normal Surman things with ease – tidying up.
Stanislas 7 – Clever and involved with everything.

Wilshere 9 – A masterclass of stroke pulling

Afobe 7 – Worked his socks off and scored before tiring.

A very comfortable win against a very poor side. I’m not sure we learnt much, although hopefully Eddie will have seen the benefit of people in the right slot as the team looked so well balanced compared to previous games.

The front four buzzed well and interchanged. If Wilson doesn’t start against Arsenal it does make you wonder if he is off. Ritchie got dropped when his agent started making noises and it seems odd that he has not started either Christmas fixture. Afobe looked strong, but that needs putting into context of the standard of the two centre halfs..

Surman and Arter were very comfortable together and the back four looked completely untroubled. The game management annoyed some people around me but teams have done this against us for years – Tuesday will see changes……but not eleven…….so it is only right that people wanted to conserve energy in a very rare easy PL game.

The highlight of the day off the pitch is Bournemouth entering 2017 as the tenth best team in the country. You still have to think about that to really take it in……. We could, if we keep balance, collect enough points in January to relax and really have a go at a cup or a very high finish. That has to be the aim now. Happy days indeed in a year that otherwise has been pretty crap for a lot of people, particularly music fans!

Happy New Year one and all.

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