AFC Bournemouth’s 2018/19 Premier League campaign could well use the last week to epitomise how the season progressed.
On Wednesday under the lights at Dean Court, the Cherries brushed aside Chelsea 4-0.
But then, before the euphoria of the result had calmed down came news of the loss of both David Brooks and Callum Wilson to lengthy injuries.
It’s not the first time injuries have derailed AFC Bournemouth somewhat this season, with Lewis Cook and Simon Francis both ruled out for the remainder of the season with knee injuries.
Adam Smith and Dan Gosling have also suffered knee injuries this season which have required surgery, with their absences, often leaving the Cherries scrambling for cover.
The loss of Brooks and Wilson in high spirits and good form was always going to be difficult to negate. Especially the former with no like-for-like change available to Howe.
For the trip to Cardiff City, Howe opted to give Dom Solanke his debut in place of Brooks, playing the deeper role with Joshua King pushed further forward.
Neither man really got into the game and the Cherries threat in front of goal was blunt.
In defence, Steve Cook, on his 300th appearance for AFC Bournemouth had an uncharacteristically poor game, giving away a bizarre penalty for handball after just seven minutes.
If Howe had hoped that he could turn things around at half time, then just 15 seconds later AFC Bournemouth found themselves two goals down with the game over. The defence, once again struggling with holding a high line in front of a direct opposition with pace to get in behind.
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told Sky Sports…
“It is hugely disappointing because we really wanted to build on what we had done, We felt that the result against Chelsea could have been a really good turning point for us.
“We’ve been searching for consistency all season and we’ve never felt like we have fully broken that. We feel like we’ve really disappointed today. There is a lot of time to reflect now and focus on Liverpool, but we have to sort out our inconsistencies. That is going to be our biggest challenge.
“Training ground work is important, but I think it is the mental side for us. You can’t play like we did on Wednesday then come here and play like we did today.
“The mental side for me had a huge bearing on today. It’s not been the first time this season where you could probably question that within the team. We need to find the answers and I think a lot of that is just going to be out mindset going into games and how we’re going to prepare. Today, we didn’t get it quite right.”
Cardiff are a team known for sitting back and trying to soak up the pressure and are terrible on the ball.
Our best results of the season have been pacy, counterattacking displays.
We start with the intention of dominating possession against a team that parks the bus, with no players in midfield that have the guile to break through.
This was immediately obvious and was not addressed until the 60th minute. Except it wasn’t. We made like for like changes, carried on tapping it around and watched crosses be cleared ad infinitum.
I truly don’t understand what Eddie Howe was thinking with the starting lineup. I’m not “trolling”; it’s a valid criticism. – Join the conversation, click here.