Written by Tinpot Club
AFC Bournemouth have won 6 games thus far during the 2019/20 Premier League campaign. This was our possession in each:-
Aston Villa (A) 1-2 37%
Everton (H) 40%
Southampton (A) 35%
Manchester United (H) 43%
Chelsea (A) 33%
Brighton & Hove Albion (H) 34%
Now before we leap to the conclusion that we should avoid possession at all costs, we need to bear in mind we’ve had a similar lack of the ball in some of our defeats. We also need to realise that there’s a difference between conceding possession through tactical choice or from not being good enough to keep it.
The thing is, this isn’t new. We know we are a better team when teams leave space in behind and we can break quickly. The challenge is how to approach games against sides who will let us have the ball via their tactical choice.
Fortunately for us, the only fixture where a team will likely do that is Newcastle United at home. We also have Burnley coming up soon but I suspect they will play on the front foot at Turf Moor.
There is definitely a template there where we can pick up something in all but 2 of our remaining fixtures. To do this we need to tighten up defensively but also press selectively and aggressively when the ball is there to be won like against Brighton on Tuesday night.
The way to beat this is by mixing it up. Periods of short passing, then periods of more direct balls to the forwards. Wide men switching between playing wide and then playing narrow. We’ve always done these things when at our best, and they disrupt the opposition pressing shape creating gaps. It needs confidence though, players lacking in confidence don’t try these things. We did this a bit on Tuesday night, but we can do it better.
For all their traits, Jefferson Lerma and Philip Billing as a central midfield aren’t going to be racking up 100’s of passes over a game. They have a job: to tackle, to cover ground, to make life hard for the opposition. That’s great. But if we want a ball playing midfield we want a Lewis Cook or Andrew Surman in there. All depends on what Eddie Howe prioritises. Right now he wants a big engine room.
We’re also unlikely to dominate possession with a 2 man midfield up against 3 man midfield. To manage it. you need to have the opposition totally pinned back, which we did for short periods in both halves on Tuesday night.
A confident frontman/men make a huge difference. If they can make the ball stick with them, then it drags our whole team up the pitch and brings more passing options into the game. As we know Callum Wilson and Dominic Solanke have struggled this season, and that’s a big reason why our possession stats are low. If they can grow and build from Tuesday night, then our possession will increase.
All areas we can hopefully use this base to improve on. – Join the conversation, click here.