Well….that was an afternoon’s entertainment! Six goals, two pens, a red and plenty of other talking points lit up a gorgeous late summer afternoon at Dean Court. Eddie still managed to look grumpy at the end though after two late Leicester goals took the gloss off what was a 4-0 score-line.
Bournemouth reverted to the side and formation that started the season so well (with the exception of Lerma and Rico swapping out Surman and Daniels. 4-4-2 with the plan obvious….get King, Fraser and Wilson running at the two oil tankers shoring up at the back for Leicester. Morgan and Maguire may sound like a firm of divorce lawyers but they look like those blokes in black bomber jackets keeping stag-do’s out of VIP lounges – and are probably as mobile.
The game was lively from the off (and rarely dropped this level) but Bournemouth were profligate in possession particularly Rico who’s first-half passing stats won’t have been the best. The speed of the game seemed a shock to both debutants – something that is common with arrivals to the Premier League. There were no excuses for Gosling though who also was caught in possession too frequently as Leicesters’ high press was very effective.
The game resembled the reverse of every other clash between these two sides with Leicester patiently probing in midfield and Bournemouth sitting back and pouncing quickly on the break. The first goal arrived this way with King winning the ball in midfield and advancing at pace before slipping FRASER away down the right. The diminutive frontman produced a finish of perfection, using Maguire as a shield before slipping it onto his right foot and bending a beauty past Schmeichel into the bottom right corner. 18 mins gone and 1-0 to the hosts.
The goal sparked more fluidity in Bournemouth’s football and they started to really scare Leicester with the ‘pace’ game plan. Maguire picked up an early booking and was lucky to stay on the pitch after clattering King for a certain second yellow. Referee Pawson annoyed the home crowd even more for booking Lerma for his first push straight after. When Fraser then was pushed in the box to no avail the chants started to ring out and we were treated to the rare spectacle of Eddie berating the fourth official.
Leicester were bright in places and should have equalised on the half-hour mark but Bournemouth were indebted to a fantastic double save by Begovic. The giant Bosnian first denied Vardy who had been slipped cleverly down the channel by Maddison – the ex-Canary followed up but was also denied by Begovic flicking the ball onto the cross-bar for Lerma to thump clear.
The game was end to end by this point and Bournemouth almost immediately doubled their advantage. Once again it was a sublime break – Rico was starting to find his passing range and he found Wilson in the centre circle. Calum’s all-round play has improved no end this season and he slipped his marker with a clever ‘leave’ advanced and played Fraser in behind with a lovely dink…….he left-footed the ball through Schmeichel and Bournemouth were in cruise control.
Better was to come as Leicester started to wilt under the power of the home team’s breaks. Another flowing move saw King free in the box – he flicked the ball around Pereira who seemed to check it with his hand and Pawson pointed at the spot. Up stepped KING to send Schmeichel the wrong way and give his team their first (as far as I can work out) 3-0 lead at halftime in the top flight.
HT Bournemouth 3 Leicester 0
It must be hard on three nil……..do you go for it and risk two going in against you or do you hold firm and then play later. Bournemouth opted for the latter approach and sat deep allowing Leicester a lot of the ball. They still attacked on the break though and Schmiechal denied Fraser his hat-trick keeping out a viciously dipping cross-shot. Wilson blasted wide from a good chance but it was mainly blue possession with little to show for it. Set pieces offered them chances but Morgan headed over and Begovic saved well from Maguire.
Francis arrived to let Smith move forwards and replace a tired leggy Brooks and he was soon watching Morgan’s dismissal for excessive force in a tackle on Smith… That dismissal swung the game back in Bournemouth’s favour and King broke the whole of the half but Schmeichel denied him brilliantly with Fraser screaming for it unmarked.
The crowd didn’t have long to wait though and Fraser was again at the centre, playing cleverly with Rico before firing a low cross to SMITH who finished with aplomb bulleting a right foot drive past Leicester’s great Dane.
That should have been it….but it got sloppy. Eddie was fuming when sub-Mousset pirouetted one time too many to move the ball into touch and from the throw in poor marking and a bad challenge from Rico gave Leicester a penalty that MADDISON converted comfortably.
A consolation became a muted potential come-back when one minute later ALBRIGHTON was left completely free to cushion home a header and Eddie’s pacing the line became more furious. Still… as he pointed out after….better to learn during a victory than a defeat.
FT Bournemouth 4 Leicester 2
Begovic 8 – Outstanding three saves and confident handling
Smith 8 – lively as ever, always drawing fouls and a supreme finish.
Ake 7 – Calm and confident – never in trouble until last five minutes.
Cook 7 – a strong captain like performance and great cajoling of teammates.
Rico 6 – Nervy start, strong middle, leggy ending.
Brooks 5 – An innocuous display – two good runs else very quiet before subbed.
Lerma 7 – Strong and put his body on the line, clever shielding and blocking.
Gosling 7 – Not pretty but in this team to break up and battle which he did.
Fraser 9 – Outstanding start goes on. Fast, clever and producing devastation.
King 7 – Good running and hold up – combination play with Wilson getting better
Wilson 8 – A real handful all game and ran Leicester ragged. Good passing.
MOM – Fraser – a country mile ahead of anything Leicester could deal with.
An interesting game. It’s not often Bournemouth have less possession than visitors to Dean Court…..let alone Leicester. Sacrificing ball-playing central midfielders like Arter and Cook means the ball goes forwards quicker and in different ways. Gosling and Lerma sit, the back four occasionally venture forwards but the front four have little defensive responsibility and don’t hold any positions. It makes them a nightmare to mark and their interplay is fantastic. It’s very Liverpool I guess but a departure for us. We also look more solid as a result as we will tend to give the ball away higher up. It’s working anyway!
The speed and interplay on the break killed a very good but slow Leicester back four and we were out of sight. Eddie will be irritated by the drop in energy with the subs – one of those damned if you do damned if you don’t changes. Lots of ‘experts’ saying the subs killed the game but we have also killed games by not making them. Mousset is a better player when you are trying to equalise with the ball down the other end of the pitch, not one for seeing a win out in his own half and Francis must have thought ‘oh great’ when he realised he was coming on and Vardy switched wide to run at him…
Lerma had an assured home debut I thought and is that blocker we have been lacking for years. Rico will get better….he showed far more confidence in the second half after a nightmare give-away start. He will get used to a high press against him too – something that doesn’t really happen in Spain until you get into the other teams half. I still think Lerma and Cook will become the centre midfield and that will give a bit more creativity. Brooks worried me today – very easily shrugged off the ball and can’t remember him doing anything after the break. I still think Stanislas will start before him when fit – and that’s a mouth-watering prospect with the other three. I also think Daniels will return when fit.
So – 5th in the Premier League. Still the fans around me moaning about some players! The most important thing was a good start. We are probably 30% of the total we need to stay up done after 5 games. This allows us to build and play football – last year we were forced at the same stage to throw away all the pre-season work and go with 4-4-2 and hope Defoe can score. Now he is a frustrated spectator for a team that looks very confident. Three winnable games coming up…. it couldn’t get much better could it?