Written by London Cherry
I must admit I haven’t enjoyed watching Bournemouth play in 2021. Even our wins were ugly and not entertaining. If we were to have any chance of a top-six finish we would have to play the WHOLE game at least 75% of our capabilities rather than a huge swing in performance. What we saw on Tuesday was hopefully the start of a great end-of-season run!
Woodgate made the necessary changes from the debacle against Barnsley by bringing in Wilshere, Rico, Billing and Stacey. Pearson, Kelly (abductor), Smith (ankle) and Long made way.
The Cherries started off at a fair lick, with the ball pinging around the Vitality Stadium turf. Some nice interplay by our midfield saw Danjuma released on the left. A good swinging cross reached Billing who acrobatically smashed it into the net. A great start, a great goal but we had to kick on!
Swansea looked all at sea in these initial 20 minutes but soon settled and started to pass it around well themselves. Begovic was down smartly to stop one of their few openings but the Cherries were still on top. The game seemed to be meandering to the half-time whistle, not before our own man of glass, Junior Stanislas went off with an apparent hamstring strain. In his place, Arnaut Danjuma took over corner duties and duly whipped in a delicious cross that cried out to be attacked. It duly was by Dominic Solanke who then saw the ball somehow creep over the line. On further inspection, Dom’s glanced header hit Latibeaudiere and went in. The change of luck we so desired perhaps in front of the goal and the perfect time to score before the break.
I expected the Swans to come out firing during the second half but they were more muted than soaring. Danjuma once again provided the second half’s first key chance. An out-swinging free-kick reached Carter-Vickers in acres of space. Our on-loan centre back made a good connection with his head but unfortunately, it was straight at Woodman. A yard on either side and it would have been in.
The next chance did fall to our opponents. A sloppy Jefferson Lerma pass went straight to the lively Whittaker, who produced an excellent shot that looked to be creeping in. A full-length Begovic save prevented it from doing soon and kept our clean sheet intact. Jack Stacey then made good ground on the right-hand side before pulling the ball into the box. A couple of deflections took it into the path of Lerma but he pulled his shot wide. Roro Riquelme (on for Stanislas) and Billing were seeing more of the ball in midfield with the latter in particular impressing me with his loping style and tracking back (not something we also associate with Phil Bill).
Then came the game’s defining moment. If Swansea had scored it might have been a different end to the game. A quick throw-in released Manning on the left. He fizzed in a cross which was met sweetly by Whittaker. Begovic made an excellent reaction stop and the chance had gone.
Pearson replaced the tidy Wilshere before another nice move from Billing released Stacey on the right. He hit a low daisy-cutter which looked as if it might go in if it wasn’t for a Swansea deflection. We seemed to be cruising to 3 points but you are never sure with this Cherries vintage. Luckily a Danjuma blockbuster settled matters. Rico found Riquelme in acres of space. As we all screamed for him to pass to the overlapping Stacey, he thought better of it and had a shot. Luckily the ball looped up into Billing’s path before the big Dane selfishly played in Danjuma. For all his tricks and flicks you can’t fault Arnie in front of goal. In a flash, it was 3-0 and goodnight Swans. There was just enough time for our 3rd goal scorer to be replaced by Mepham before injury time was seen out unscathed. We had won and it had been an enjoyable watch!!
Man of the match against Swansea
Begovic 8 – Had two big moments and made two crucial saves. Seems to be over his dip in form (long may it continue!)
Stacey 7 – A quiet start from Jack (including a few misplaced passes) but during the second half he grew in confidence and made some excellent overlapping runs.
Cook 8 – Steady as a rock in defence and made me laugh by giving Lerma a right royal rollicking for a misplaced pass.
Carter-Vickers 8 – See Cook without the rollicking! Should have perhaps scored with his header but his partnership with Cook is growing from game to game,
Rico 6 – Didn’t do much wrong but I don’t remember Diego having much influence on the game. Crucially no slip-ups though!
Wilshere 7 – Tidy with the ball at his feet in a slightly deeper role for Jack.
Lerma 7 – A typical Jeff-type performance without being outstanding. Was at fault for one sloppy pass.
Billing 9 – One of his best games in a Cherries shirt. This might divide opinion on here (as Phil does) but I felt alongside his excellent goal, Phil was commanding tonight. His relaxed style was similar to Ian Cox (ie class) tonight rather than a player who does care. More of the same, please!
Stanislas 6 – Lasted 37 minutes and didn’t have a huge impact on the game. Hope it’s not a bad injury though.
Solanke 8 – No goal but done excellent hold-up play by our big striker. An important player for our team.
Danjuma 9 – The enigma that is Arnie. At times mesmeric, other times infuriating. He was mostly the former luckily for us tonight! Must be a nightmare to play against but also a nightmare to play with.
Riquelme 6 – Carried the ball well but often chose the wrong pass. Still a work in progress for me.
Pearson 6 – One crunching tackle which resulted in a yellow card. Will play a bigger role on Saturday.
Mepham – 3 Minutes on the pitch.
MOTM: Last night this was going to Phil Bil but I’ve changed my mind looking back at the goals. Due to his involvement in all three goals, I’m giving this to Danjuma. I’m sure that will help with his little self-esteem!!
Final thoughts: I haven’t enjoyed match days for a while or (no offence) coming on here. It’s been a tough watch recently but we have to remind ourselves where we are. We are still at the top end of the Championship. We are still pushing for promotion and we are still right in this. All I ask is for consistency. Give us these standard lads between now and the end of the season and I’m confident we’ll go up. Who knows we might even reach Wembley (twice?!). Go for it now on Sat, don’t get injured over the international break, then give your all for 6 weeks. That’s all we ask. – Join the conversation, click here.