Written by Neil Dawson
‘Its football Jim, but not as we know it’…. Burnley rolled into town with their normal agricultural style pushing new limits of manure and stole the points with a last gasp shoulder flick from former Eddie mentee Jay Rodriguez.
I’m just glad none of our newfound North American fans chose this one as their trip to Mecca as the amount of stoppage time, fouls, treatment and ball in the air – they’d have been better off seeing it done properly at a St Helens v Warrington fixture.
Eddie kept the same side that beat Chelsea, perhaps surprisingly with Wilson back available, but you can’t argue that they earned the right to play today. It was easy to spot how the game would go from the off with Burnley launching their first three balls high into the rain-sodden sky and twice clattering into their markers to give away fouls. I looked at Rico at one stage and you could see him thinking ‘wtf’ or whatever the Spanish equivalent acronym is…. He wouldn’t have played in a game like that before on the Costa del Sol. Not so Lerma though – for whom Christmas had come early…… this would have been like a friendly in Columbia and he set about snarling, abusing people behind a gloved hand, and thumping into tackles like nobodies business.
In terms of football though…….there wasn’t a lot to report. Well, that’s being kind. We played some neat football in midfield occasionally but the lack of numbers getting up the pitch was poor – even with Lerma dropping into the back three occasionally, presumably to allow the full-backs forward. The biggest issue, as it has been all season was the final ball (or any ball if you were the off-colour Lewis Cook) which I reckon was poor 90% of the times we got a chance to play it. We had one shot – Lerma testing the construction of the temporary stand roof. Burnley also didn’t test Ramsdale at all. The only surprise of the half was that after extensive treatment to Franno and Weeman after thundering challenges there were only 3 minutes of injury time.
HT Bournemouth 0 Burnley 0
The second half saw Eddie keep the same formation but bring Wilson on for Cook with King reverting to the right-hand side. It was better in terms of the fact Cook is no more a winger than his namesake Steve and it showed because there were spells of some really good possession and neat football with King very involved. Unfortunately on every occasion with someone waiting or making a run the final ball was woeful.
There remained precious little to cheer and this game will go down in history as the least shots by two sides in a Premier League game since records began. There were 34 free-kicks though – and the resultant minute or so to take each one for Burnleys 21 dead balls ran the clock down.
Mepham headed the ball just wide from Fraser’s corner and Gosling had a shot across goal well wide and that……was it. There was another annoying moment when ref Atkinson pulled a move back with Stacey clear in the box because the ball had hit him.
The game looked to be heading for a draw and then Eddie switched to bring Solanke on for Billing and move to two upfront. It relinquished Bournemouth’s stranglehold on the game and Burnley started to get a bit more of the ball around midfield. The inevitable happened when they funnelled the ball out wide to Westwood and his routine cross saw RODRIGUEZ get the run on Francis and bundle the ball in off his right shoulder……. There was an agonizing wait for the travelling fans while VAR ran its cameras over the threat of hand-ball but the goal stood.
FT Bournemouth 0 Burnley 1
Ramsdale 6 – Precious little to do, punched some he could have caught – no chance with goal.
Stacey 7 – Lively display going forwards and solid at the back v McNeill
Francis 6 – Generally solid but lost Jay-Rod for the goal
Mepham7 – Carried on his calm authority display from Chelsea
Rico 7 – Good distribution and defending – booked so now suspended.
Gosling 7 – Good energy and got into good positions in the first half but not second.
Lerma 8 – The game he was invented for – how did he not get booked?
Billing 6 – Drifted in and out and looked tired again towards the end.
Cook 4 – Not sure what happened to him today but not at races at all.
King 6 – Poor first half, better second half on the wing with good tricks
Fraser 5 – Quality sadly lacking on key moments
(Wilson 5 – too many heavy touches and poor choices)
MOM – Lerma. Some men are born for the battle and some for the war goes the old expression. Jeff was born for neither – he was born for the Armageddon – the only enjoyable bit of the afternoon was him – shooting aside.
A tough afternoon viewing – even before the late goal. We knew what Burnley would do but you can’t pretend they are tough to beat as 45% of the sides that had played them before today had beaten them. They have only won three away games this calendar year – two against us. So it’s a bit of a problem that we have and to me the answer is fairly simple. You need craft to break stubborn teams down and we don’t have any. We have muscle and energy in midfield and at full-back and we have pace upfront. What we don’t have is that moment that unlocks a defence – Brooks had it and potentially Harry Wilson might if played centrally but in their absence and with Ibe out of the picture and Stanislas presumably not fit it’s just not there.
What we see therefore is the midfield only able to really give the ball to a full-back and a winger and very unlikely to score and the forwards either tied up with no space or on the rare occasions they could break its them that have to feed it to each other and the touch was either too hard or too delayed. The worrying thing was Eddie seemed at a loss after the game and said he didn’t understand why there was a lack of quality – he has said this too often now – on repeat this season… it is his job to understand – sorry.
What Eddie did understand, which was good to hear, was that his team didn’t gamble enough players forwards and create enough two on ones. He is 100% correct with this. For 4-3-3 to work – it has to be that and not 4-5-1. Too often our players got sucked back despite Eddie frantically waving them forwards. There is no need for both (or even one) of the three forwards to defend. if they stay up the pitch Burnley would have had to keep players with them. Gosling started off attacking but stopped as the game went on – not once though did he run beyond King – again something that is necessary if you play one central forward. It’s why we invariably go back to 4-4-2 – we just don’t understand the system and I don’t think we have the coaching knowledge to make it work – but we shall see if we persist with it (which we should).
Ultimately we have to solve both the numbers getting forwards issue and be braver until the craft players return (or come in the shape of a new signing). We have to normally score two goals to win as our defence will routinely fail to deal with high crosses. 6 goals in 11 games is very un-Bournemouth and with a limited ability to keep clean sheets we are in real problems if we don’t solve this. We are also becoming very dull to watch and like those Premier league sides of old, we used to mock for not trying to win games.
Did we need to change shape and bring on Solanke – one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations – but it affected the sides ability to keep a grip and ultimately we lost with the new shape. I can understand it if you had a prolific striker on the bench but Solanke has scored one in 50 and his sole contribution was to give the ball away twice and put the pressure back on. It wasn’t the reason we lost, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t help.
So – another winnable home game has gone and no Rico for the next game. It doesn’t get any easier and we need to get a group together for January’s crucial fixtures. Plenty to ponder for Eddie over his turkey. Have a wonderful Christmas anyone who has read this far! See you Boxing day.
A disappointing result in the end. I thought we deserved a point. The tipping point for them was the Billing substitution but if he was feeling the earlier knock and/or was shattered then fair enough. With hindsight, Surman should have replaced him but Eddie was going for the win which is what we expect.
I thought Lerma was the best player on the pitch. As Neil said, surprised he wasn’t booked.
Rambo gives me a great deal of confidence, could he have done anything with their goal, I’d have to watch it again on TV. I guess Francis at fault for that one.
I thought our final ball was always poor, close margins I know. Does Fraser take their players on now like last season, it doesn’t seem to be the case?
I lost count of the number of our crosses Pope caught. Bread and butter for him.
In the end, you’d have thought Burnley had won a cup final by the way some of their players reacted.
One real positive, I don’t support Burnley and have to watch that crap week in and week out. – Join the conversation, click here.