Last time out, Bournemouth fell to a 2-0 defeat to newly-promoted Cardiff City on the road. In the game prior to that, the Cherries had enjoyed a 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium.
Both results were, in their way, indicative of the two contrasting faces of the split-personality syndrome of the season that the south coast club are enduring.
At home, Eddie Howe’s side have been scintillating. On their travels, they’ve been dire. The Cherries are currently 10th in the league, but on away form alone they’d be 16th. They’ve lost nine of their twelve games on the road, conceding 27 goals. Finding a solution to these away days woes is an absolute must for Howe if Bournemouth are to finish in seventh place this season which, in the era of the Big Six, is quickly becoming an achievement akin to a trophy.
So, how can Bournemouth instantly fix their greatest flaw? Football FanCast outline our suggested solutions below…
Howe has cultivated an attacking and entertaining style of play at Bournemouth. The club’s attacking contingent – starring the likes of Callum Wilson, Josh King, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks – has been in sparkling form this season. As a unit, Bournemouth’s front line is probably the finest in the Premier League outside of the Big Six clubs.
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However, on tricky trips away, an injection of reserve and conservatism wouldn’t go amiss. Howe could lose an attacker from his formation and his side would still possess more than enough pace to pose a threat on the counter-attack.
What’s more, that spare man could slot into the defensive line to give the Cherries more cover at the back. This simple tactical shift could be enough to give their away form a much-needed boost.
Howe is a nice guy and his team play nice football. Probably, a little too nice. Especially away from home.
According to WhoScored’s statistics, no side have received less bookings whilst playing away from home than Bournemouth this season. Howe’s men have only picked up 12 cautions on the road, and no red cards. They’ve also made less tackles – an average of 12.6 per game – whilst playing away, and no side has committed less fouls per away match – 8.8 – either.
In old fashioned terms then, Bournemouth need to get stuck in. Football teams naturally feel more comfortable when playing at home, and Bournemouth allow their opponents to enjoy that safety blanket. The Cherries must rattle them. They must compete to a far sterner degree in the physical battles if they’re to turn around their away form.
With the raw pace of some of Bournemouth’s attackers, such as Wilson, King, Fraser, Jordon Ibe and Dominic Solanke, the Cherries could pose a threat by playing long balls over the top of the opposition defence for these forwards to run onto.
Whilst playing at home, where the onus is on the home side to attack, they are more likely to play with a high line. This is something that visitors can look to exploit. Bournemouth have the requisite weapons to do this, but they don’t make use of them.
Of all the Premier League clubs, Bournemouth’s average of just 22.3 accurate long balls played in games away from home is the absolute lowest. The likes of Nathan Ake, Lewis Cook and Andrew Surman – who play deeper lying roles – have the vision and capacity to produce long balls for the forwards to attack, but they don’t do it frequently enough. Howe should encourage a slight change in philosophy here to give the Cherries a new dimension.