Written by Waz afcb
As if the previous year had not been surreal enough, surely the only way for reality as we know it to distort even further from the norm would be for a disciplined and free-flowing Bournemouth side to go and out-sh*thouse a beleaguered Burnley side on their own turf to comfortably reach the quarter-finals of the FA cup? Masterminded by the tactical genius of erm Jonathan Woodgate and spearheaded by a David Silvaesque attacking midfield master class from erm Phil Billing…. this seems to be the world we live in now folks! Forget everything you’ve learnt up until this point I guess…..
Anyway, onto the game. We lined up like the Bournemouth of old, a flat back four with full-backs encouraged to bomb forward at every opportunity. Inverted wide men playing very high and looking to pick up pockets in central areas where ever possible. A slightly languid and unpredictable number ten who is capable of both moments of brilliance and utter frustration in equal measure, and a workhorse forward who looks to run in behind and stretch the opposition backline at every opportunity. The parallels with the class of 14/15 were not lost.
The game started off as quite a cagey and scrappy affair, to be expected really given the number of changes made by both sides. Once the game settled down it was Bournemouth who begun to take the ascendancy, knocking the ball about crisply and noticeably trying to get the full-backs involved at every opportunity. Lerma and Pearson provided a brick wall in front of the backline while Phil Bill floated around gracefully picking up some very positive pockets of space. The forward movement was causing Burnley problems and led to a couple of early half chances. Firstly Stanislas struck well but narrowly wide on the half volley after a Brooks dink to the back post had been cleared, and then Billing went even closer by pulling a shot narrowly wide after a lovely run in behind and cut back from Surridge. Bournemouth were in control and got the goal that their incisive and intricate early dominance had deserved. Big Phil glided past a challenge in midfield and played a very intelligent reverse pass into Stanislas who had drifted infield to pick up a lovely little pocket. Stan spread the play to Brooks, Stacy overlapped, cut back, goal. Clinical. Blink twice and you’d have been forgiven for thinking that prime Franno and Ritchie had both re-signed. So simple, yet so satisfying. We saw out the half comfortably with only a few minor scares and were unlucky not to go in two up after Dale Stephens’ best attempts to first smash a header into his own net, and then wildly swipe a leg out at Billing which looked suspiciously like it could have resulted in a spot-kick.
The second half began with the gut-wrenching news that Stacy had suffered an injury, hopefully only minor. Mepham on in his place and CCV shifted out to a right-back role. Bournemouth were notably sitting deeper this half and inviting pressure onto themselves, fortunately, this only really resulted in one presentable opportunity for the hosts. Rodrigues blasting a glaring opportunity wildly over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box after a mis-hit shot had made its way to him. A big let off. The rest of the half was a bit of a non-event in all honesty. Bournemouth sat back and invited Burnley onto them, but a very diligent and disciplined defensive display (from Pearson and Lerma in particular) meant that it very rarely felt like we were really under any threat. If anything we were the ones who looked the most likely to net again on the counter, and we did just that! Produced by undoubtedly the moment of the match. A clipped ball into the box found a clearly tiring Billing, who quite nonchalantly helped the ball back into the area with his back and onto an on rushing Surridge. Sam nicked in ahead of the Burnley defender and the ref pointed to the spot. A piece of play in which if it pays off leaves you looking like an absolute genius, if it fails has your fans and team mates alike pulling their hair out in frustration! Up stepped Junior to comfortably stroke home the spot-kick and send us into the quarter-finals for only the first time in our history!
To summarise, football is a simple game. Sometimes just not over complicating things and going back to basics is the way forward. Today we didn’t over-elaborate with some expansive formation, we went back to basics. Overlapping full-backs, two sh*t-house midfielders protecting the back four, inverted wingers and a forward who looks to stretch the opposition’s back line. It paid off big time, fair play to Woodgate for recognising this. It is a performance that was both pleasing and at the same time sums up why so many supporters were becoming so frustrated by recent performances, the ingredients are clearly there to do well and it really only took us going back to basics to achieve this. It was admittedly against a weakened Burnley team but even the most pessimistic among us can’t deny that for the first time in a long time there were glimpses of the Bournemouth of old in there.
Man of the match against Burnley
Begovic- 6 not an awful lot to do and in all honesty looked a little shaky dealing with what he had to. Did make a few nice claims though.
Stacy- 8 the biggest compliment I can give him is that it felt like I was watching the Franno of old. Constantly bombing up and down the line with a seemingly endless supply of energy. Lovely assist for the goal. Big blow to lose him to injury.
Cook- 8 solid, dealt well with everything that came his way both in the air and in the ground. Led the team well.
CCV- 8 pretty much faultless first half, a brick wall who would not be passed. Moved to right back in the second half and looked surprisingly comfortable.
Rico- 6 our most disappointing performer in a position that continues to plague us. No glaring errors today but my God, when he lines up one of his crosses there really is no telling where it will end up.
Pearson- 9 very unlucky not to get MOTM. Quite literally the complete midfield performance broke play, used the ball intelligently and carried us up the pitch on numerous occasions. I’m scratching my head as to how we’ve managed to sign this guy tbh.
Lerma- 8 provided solid protection to the back four. So much better when sitting and not asked to be something that he isn’t.
Brooks- 7 better today but still not quite on it. Linked well with Stacy at times and looked good driving in field with the ball. Decision making wasn’t always there, however.
Stanislas- 8 classy. Picked up pockets very well and used the ball intelligently. Made us tick.
Billing- 9 where did that come from!? Easily his best performance for us. Looked far more comfortable playing further up the pitch and ran the show at times. Please play him just behind the striker every week!
Surridge- 8 poachers goal and won a penalty. Tireless running to create space for his team mates. Needs to start in my opinion.
Mepham- 7 didn’t make any glaring errors, looked solid enough.
Good report Waz. I really enjoyed watching that game, and whilst noting that this was against a Burnley B side, your final sentence was exactly how I was feeling – this was the first time in ages we have seen an AFCB type performance.
Pearson looks the absolute business and if you include Wilshire we have a genuine PL strength midfield group to choose from. CCV is a proper unit but can also play football, and the lay-off by Billing for the penalty was utterly outrageous but he knew exactly what he was doing.
Woodgate is doing his chances no harm at all with this type of performance.
I’ve got to ask – how has the ginger whinger kept Burnley in the top flight for 4 years? Every single time I have seen them it is awful; just reliance on set pieces and lump it to the big men up front in the hope of something happening. Looking at the Burnley forums it sounds like even they are getting bored of it now. – Join the conversation, click here.