Date: 19th August 2018 at 6:45pm
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Written by AFCB_Liam

Bournemouth travelled to East London full of confidence following our first ever opening day win in the Premier League last week, with no new injury concerns and only some speculation as to whether Lerma would get a look in.

It was my first ever visit to the London Stadium. While the facilities are good and public transport links decent enough, I now get the criticism. Being so far from the pitch and so open, It’s hard to generate atmosphere and it feels a bit like the Emirates. It’s especially hard for the away support as the 2 sections (lower and upper) are divided by a massive gap so it’s hard to sync up the singing.

As we all should have guessed, Eddie didn’t change a winning team (or bench) and kept the same 11 who beat Cardiff. Not sure why anybody was surprised with this, it’s Eddie’s way and it’s worked alright so far!

The pre-match atmosphere was built up through the usual bubble-blowing machines, video montages of Moore, Di Canio and err Andy Carol, and the fans generated some impressive noise as we kicked off. There seemed to be an optimistic mood amongst the home fans given the money spent on new signings. 2 of these new signings, Anderson on the left wing and Wilshere in the centre started for the Hammers.

After a relatively good start from Bournemouth, West Ham started to take a hold of the game and Anderson linked well with Masuaku on their left to create a flurry of half chances and corners. Arnautovic, who was a handful all day was also causing problems but Cook and Ake, who were both immense, were like a pair of football magnets, heading everything away. Then out of the blue, Brooks found Wilson unmarked in the area with a smart pass. Wilson looked surprised to be onside and shot first time but Fabianski saved well.

Then around 30 minutes in, Hernandez turned sharply in the area, Ake slid in and down he went. The referee originally didn’t give it but the lino called him over and it was given. Looked stonewall from my angle but the contact was more marginal having seen it on MOTD (but still a pen in my view). ARNAUTIVIC slotted home the pen emphatically.

Bournemouth rallied well and Brooks had a golden opportunity to level with a free header which he fluffed from 10 yards out. 1-0 at halftime.

We came out with the same 11 in the second half. Eddie and JT must have spiked the half-time oranges as we stepped it up a couple of gears and everyone looked sharper, especially Wee man, Smith, Brooks and Callum who were all linking up well.

For about 10 mins the ref lost the plot a little – waving away a clear push on Fraser in the box, not booking Wilshere for a late lunge on Surman and then booking King for one not as bad, but we looked much more comfortable and the pressure was building. The equaliser came from nothing though, WILSON picked it up on halfway, turned and had no support. Faced with 5 West Ham defenders he just ran and ran, they backed off and then threw themselves in, he skipped around the last challenge and slotted it through Fabianski to send the away crowd wild. It reminded me of Pitman vs Fulham a few years ago and there were similar scenes behind the goal.

We then ramped up the pressure even more, and the home crowd were starting to turn. Brooks turned Masouaku (who imploded in the 2nd half) and was hauled down just outside the box on the right. Wee man clipped it in and COOK dived in to head it home, sparking delirious scenes from the AFCB support.

West Ham brought on 2 of their new signings, Perez and Sanchez and we brought on Franno for Brooks. Franno’s first touch was a Messi-esque flick over his man to set up another good break and we were looking dangerous on the counter. Wilshere was booked for a hack on guess who, I’d love to see the stats on how many times Wee Man has been fouled in the Premier League! We managed the game really well in this period though, restricting the Hammers to hopeful through balls, a few corners and crosses, while Ake and Cook repelled everything in sight.

More West Ham bookings arrived (6 in total I think!) and we swapped King for Cook. We continued to threaten on the counter and in truth, we saw the last 10 minutes out fairly comfortably as the West Ham fans headed for the exits in droves! Even some oles for our slick passing in midfield!

Verdict

I really, really enjoyed today as it showed how far we have come as a team. Great character to get back in it (again!), great ambition not to sit back at 1-1, and the composure and ‘game management’ which we lacked in our first 2 seasons in the Prem. Our defence looked class, especially Ake, Cook, Smith and Begovic (I still think Daniels looks a little sluggish defensively and that Rico will come in at some point).

Surman and Gosling were excellent 2nd half but I think Cook will come in and improve the team when we are trying to break down teams at home. Wee man is looking so confident and Brooks has slotted in like he’s been here for years. Wilson needed a goal like that to spark him as he’d looked a little bit lacking in confidence earlier after his first-half miss.

Our bench today (even without 50m of talent) looked so strong, probably as strong as I can remember. So with Lerma, Rico and Stan to add to the mix, it’s hugely exciting times to be a Bournemouth fan. Competition for places will be so strong!

Ratings

Begovic – 7 – Solid kicking and some good low stops from distance strikes. Looking very dependable now.

Cook – 10 – was going to put 9, but he really didn’t put a foot wrong plus scored the winner and assisted the equaliser so it’s a perfect 10 for me!
Ake – 8 – Clumsy for the pen but flawless otherwise, his positioning is immense
Smith – 8 – Still think he is underrated for us, such a strong defender and attacking outlet
Daniels – 7 – he laboured a bit in the first half but much improved 2nd half defensively

Surman – 7 – Solid throughout and some nice interceptions and link up play. I don’t really understand the criticism, to be honest, but I only see away games live so maybe I’m missing something!
Gosling – 7 – Great energy particularly in 2nd half, but a little sloppy in the first half
Fraser – 8 – Just such a threat constantly and a great cross for the winner. Attracts so many fouls and yellows
Brooks – 9 – incredible display for someone so young and new to the team. Looks at home and created most of our chances. Should have scored at least one though with 2 glorious chances

King – 7 – Always a menace with his pace and strength, but looks a bit short on confidence. Needs a goal
Wilson – 8 – incredible solo goal and some excellent hold up play to ease the pressure

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