Written by Rodmorg
The previous weekend versus South Coast rivals Southampton concluded with a stalemate and not the best of performances so far this season. Post-match, Eddie Howe mentioned that Bournemouth struggled for rhythm – and he was correct. With failed expectations of a win against Southampton in the minds of fans, likewise, it was for an away trip to London, where the Cherries faced Fulham, who were slumped in the relegation zone. 12 points and a 20 goal swing stood between the two sides.
Having kept reasonably the same side throughout late September and October – Eddie once again opted for consistency – only one change was made for the first team – wherein Charlie Daniels replaced the injured Joshua King. Despite the solitary adjustment, the formation was switched from the regular 4-4-2 to a 5-2-3/3-4-3. Of which is usually utilised against tougher opposition.
The first ten minutes began with high intensity and tempo, with the Cherries dominating possession. Shortly after Steve Cook miss-kicked the ball in our own penalty box, David Brooks made a blistering run towards Fulham’s box with excellent skill to ward off defenders, a simple lay-off to Fraser on his left convinced Wee Man to shoot a tame curling effort into goalkeeper Rico’s hands; although Daniels was in acres of space alongside.
However, with only a quarter of an hour played, Bournemouth took the lead. Some great individual skill and effort from Lewis Cook broke Wilson through on goal, only to be halted by an oncoming Fosu-Mensah, who naively barged into the back of our striker to bring him down. Referee Marinner gave an unquestionable penalty, of which Wilson calmly slotted to his left.
Immediately after Wilson’s opener, a back pass from Ake gave a scare to Cherries fans when Begovic took a hefty touch facing the onrushing Kamara to intercept. The Fulham man dived dramatically to the contact of Begovic’s leg – however, this was not the case, as the goalkeeper intelligently retracted his leg and Kamara was given a deserved yellow, much to the Cottagers’ disapproval.
Across the first half, Bournemouth exploited the left flank, of which Fraser and Daniels both worked excellently throughout; reminiscent of the long-standing Daniels-Pugh relationship we saw in the past. It was blatant that Howe had done his homework, as the opposition’s defence couldn’t cope with the wingers and Wilson especially.
Half Time: Fulham 0-1 Bournemouth
Despite the momentum maintained in the first half, it took Bournemouth a little while to get back into first gear. Valiant defensive efforts from the back three resisted the pressure Fulham had imposed. Captain Simon Francis went a step further from preventing goals to nearly scoring one. Ten minutes after the break, Lewis Cook passed to the on-rushing Francis 35 yards out. The ball hit the defender on the chest and he produced a rocket of a drive to the top-left corner, only for the goalkeeper to save the deemed unstoppable shot, of which would have been a certain goal, and a contender for Goal of the Month. A far better effort from Francis, compared to the previous week.
With only 20 minutes left, a smart tackle by Wilson on the half-way line allowed Fraser to drive forward with Brooks against two defenders. A simple lay-off to his teammate enabled him to poke the ball between the goalkeeper’s legs, the second goal for Bournemouth and the third for Brooks this season. An excellent counter-attack, from our box to theirs in a matter of seconds.
Things got bad to worse for the survival hopefuls, as another error from the defence gave Brooks the shining opportunity to be one on one with the goalkeeper. However, the wonderkid was hacked to the ground by Kevin McDonald, who was given a second yellow. Moments after, his teammate Kamara should have been following him down the tunnel – a bad tackle and a kick of the ball away was insufficient of a second yellow in Marriner’s view.
With only five minutes remaining, an inch-perfect pass from Fraser split the back line of Fulham and allowed Wilson to put his laces through a mighty shot which gave Rico no chance of saving, in fact, he was rooted to his spot due to the power. The game was put to bed as Bournemouth produced another strong away performance.
Full Time: Fulham 0-3 Bournemouth
Asmir Begovic – 7: Another clean sheet, didn’t have much to do. Produced a heart-stopping moment but cleverly got out of it.
Simon Francis – 8: Gave the ball away for Fulham’s only shot on target but did well in defence. Been very consistent recently in defence and extremely unlucky not to score his first Premier League goal. What a first goal that would have been.
Steve Cook – 7: Another solid performance by Steve and felt very confident with the ball at his feet.
Nathan Ake – 8: Again similar to Cook but went forward more and showed great cover work to latch on to the through balls.
Adam Smith – 6: Quiet in the first half due to focus on the left but grew into the game after the interval. Started the counter-attack for the second goal.
Lewis Cook – 6: Nothing special but produced some good passes and dribbles. Unfortunate not to get an assist for Francis.
Jefferson Lerma – 7: Growing into the team and made some very good tackles and passes. Dwarfed Cook’s performance.
Charlie Daniels – 9: Absolutely great performance returning from injury. Made some good crosses into the box and was extremely lively. Prevented counter attacks with very good tackles and interceptions. Great positioning too. Definitely MOTM during the first half.
David Brooks – 9: Another goal for the youngster and thoroughly deserved his goal. Extremely creative individual and looks certain to shine this season.
Callum Wilson – 9 – MOTM: Involved in all three goals today. Also very swift in outmanoeuvring his marker, but that’s now 5 goals and 4 assists in 10 Premier League games. Surely Southgate his keeping an eye on this fellow?
Ryan Fraser – 9: Produced two good assists and sprung into life during the second half, overshadowed by Daniels’ performance in the first half.
Dan Gosling (80) – N/A: All too late to come on for any judgement.
Junior Stanislas (85) – N/A:
Jermain Defoe (89) – N/A:
Rather surprised to see Howe turn up with a 3-4-3 against this type of opposition but I’m not complaining. Most likely to counter the attacking capability of Fulham in regard to their front three but still maintain our attacking philosophy. Worked out brilliantly today. Ensures defensive structure as well as mobility along the wings. Sacrifices a striker but the formation was probably applicable due to the absence of King. I’m pondering whether Eddie will employ this formation against other teams similar to Fulham.
Was glad to see Chaz back in the side, and he turned out to be one of the star performers today. Francis is having some really good games of recent and deservedly needs a goal – I reckon it’ll come one day for him. All the players have sky high confidence; looking at how Lewis Cook and David Brooks dribble with perfection and the astronomical talent they have infers that they’re stars in the making. Wasn’t the best game for big signing Lerma today but was consistent and surprisingly didn’t have a yellow card to his name.
Another win and a clean sheet in the bag. Three in a row now, with October springing up with 10 out of a possible 12 points. This consolidates our position in sixth with leaders Liverpool (as of writing) being six points to the better. We’ve already got half of the points to achieve the goal of the ‘magic 40 mark’. The gap between other South Coast teams that consider themselves superior to us begins to widen. Despite them winning again, Brighton are still 6 points behind us, while Southampton are slowly reeling back into the drop zone with another goalless game at St. Mary’s. In general, a far better performance than last week. We need a good 4-0 or 3-0 win at our own ground!
In contrast, the fixture list for November and December looks dreadful. 6 of the 10 fixtures consist of teams that finished 1st to 6th last year, including our next fixture, with us hosting Manchester United. However, if we continue the form we’re in, we can beat a below-par Manchester United – we’ve done it before, I have the confidence we can do it again.