Written by Neil Dawson
Well……..that was an odd game! I’ve seen us play better in a three or four goal defeat! I was expecting a few things might happen tonight – a nervy draw, a heavy victory – a snatched away win against the run of play We deliberated all of these possibilities on the way in. None of us had down ‘total capitulation but a welcome three points’….. but that was what we went on to witness.
The big debate was whether Eddie would leave Mings in to counter Huddersfield normal dominance of us in the air. He didn’t but I wonder if he reflects that was the correct decision. Instead, the 4-4-2 with Lerma back in for Surman was the safe option.
The opening five minutes offered no evidence of what was to come. Bournemouth set about teams the same way from the off – overloads and high press. They scored on four minutes. Fraser has the most assists in the Premier League and WILSON is the teams top scorer so bookies would not have been shocked when the former’s free-kick from the right was met by the flashing head of the latter to give his side the lead.
The game continued in the same vein and Lossl saved well from Wilson and King as Bournemouth poured forwards. Ake should also have done better when unmarked at a corner. The early burst came to an end though and Huddersfield commenced the passing triangles, movement and press that we had seen from them in both games last season. It made for some nervy moments particularly on the right where Mooy and Hadergjonaj were tying Daniels in knots but the defence held strong.
Bournemouth broke and scored again with a goal typical of this year’s new counter-attacking style. Wilson was released at pace down the right and he showed great vision to find FRASER who fired in off Lossl’s underside and double his teams lead.
That effectively, with twenty minutes on the clock, was the end of Bournemouth for the evening as the ‘Terriers show’ moved into gear. Slick passing, pretty triangles and great movement are the norm at Dean Court but it’s not normally the opposition playing it. Meanwhile, Bournemouth gave the ball away continually the centre of midfield trio of Cook, Brooks and Lerma particularly guilty and couldn’t hold it on the rare occasions it got passed forwards. It was very sloppy and the home crowds frustration grew and grew.
One man kept us in it – Begovic. He made tremendous back to back saves from Depoitres header and Mooys free kick as Bournemouth wethered the storm. There was no break though. Every time Bournemouth looked to counter they gave it away with a poor pass and back the play came. We literally camped out in our own area and tried to defend a sea of corners and free-kicks. One game of head tennis too many saw KONGOLO convert over Begovic from Depoitre’s flick. A very nervous Bournemouth limped to half time and the fans breathed a sigh of relief – at least Eddie would change things now.
HT Bmth 2 Hudds 1
Eddie didn’t change anything. He sent the same team back out and then witnessed the last twenty minutes of the first half repeat itself for the entire second half. He made two like for like changes, Stanislas arriving to do the same non-existent job Brooks had done and Mousset arriving looking tired straight away.
Bournemouth basically sat in their own area for ten minutes, tried two minutes going forwards when they gave the ball away cheaply and realised they were better in their own box and retreated again. This happened on a cycle throughout the half. If Huddersfield had a better attack they would have murdered us. Credit to Steve Cook who was immense and Begovic who saved brilliantly from Mooy again with his feet and dominated the aerial bombardment.
There was nothing at the other end – a couple of breaks with King firing well wide was it. We clung on and clung on – Mings eventually arriving and joined the fun by giving it away the first ball as if he had studied his teammates all match and didn’t want to show them up.
The final whistle brought merciful release and a game where come tomorrow only the score will matter.
FT Bournemouth 2 Huddersfield 1
Begovic 8 – A match-winning display of strength, agility and concentration.
Francis 6 – Kept at it with some good moments defensively – poor with the ball.
Cook 7 – Dominant aerially and pick of the defence – great blocks and leadership.
Ake 6 – I think a bit nervy still and Depoitre had him in the air.
Daniels 6 – Nervy on the ball but stuck to defensive task ok.
Brooks 4 – Lightweight and non-existent. Kept forgetting he was there.
Cook 4 – His worst game for us. Ponderous, profligate and low energy.
Lerma 5 – Not great. Hassled out of it time and time again. Couple good moments.
Fraser 7 – Took his goal well, another assist and ran hard but mostly chasing.
Wilson 6 – Never gave up – lacked support – a good goal and assist.
King 4 – Strange show-pony mode with little concentration and too many tricks.
(Stan 4 – might not have bothered, Mousset 4 – low energy. Mings n/a)
MOM – Begovic – says it all really and thank god he was on top form.
It was crucial we won tonight, on the back of four defeats and ultimately that is probably the take away from tonight we should settle on. Eddie intimated as much afterwards. His team had spent 80% of the game on Sunday without the ball which is sapping and they ended up doing the same tonight. The puzzling thing though was the form of Lerma and Stanislas who didn’t actually play against City but looked equally as heavy legged.
I was surprised with Eddie tonight. Huddersfield had us well sussed last season (they were the better side in both games despite the 4-0 defeat) and their Liverpool lite pressing style and three up front always does for us. We can’t play teams like that with two in central midfield and we looked so out of control today it was scary. With the set-piece aerial threat if every there was a game for Mings, it was today and that could have kept the formation we used relatively successfully at City and should use against Liverpool (but probably won’t). Alternatively, we could have used three in central midfield to soak things up. If you can accept not doing this from the start, not doing it at half time seemed very odd as we could all see the way it was going.
We didn’t do anything and I suppose Eddie can always argue that it got us the three points. The other worrying thing for me was how little Brooks, Cook and Stanislas, when he arrived, were up for the midfield fight. Steve Cook went ballistic at them with half an hour left and the audible groans from the crowd at them got louder and louder.
A tough night – many things I think we could have done better in selections, tactics, subs yet we won and are sixth in the Premier League….. it’s a funny old game as Jimmy Greaves used to say!
Tinpot Club wrote…
Eddie’s 4-4-2 has many admirers on this forum but the limitations of this system were not difficult to spot tonight. Huddersfield overloaded us in the central areas of the pitch and as we had no wide forwards, their full backs had the freedom to advance ridiculously high up the pitch and we couldn’t cope.
The other problem was in possession. Of course, Lerma and Cook were woeful on the ball, but playing in flat lines makes things even worse when we are getting pressed. What I couldn’t understand is why we went with like-for-like subs. That was never going to change the pattern of the game. Compare that to the Palace game, where we brought on the 3rd midfielder and pushed our wide players higher and it changed the match.
I thought the defending itself from Aké and Cook especially was excellent. Against a half decent attack, we’d have crumbled. – Join the conversation, click here.