AFC Bournemouth: are the Cherries top 10 bound?

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Written by Harvey Camp (@harveycampjourn)

A comprehensive start to the season for Eddie Howe’s men saw the aspirations of AFC Bournemouth shoot sky high for the 2018/19 Premier League season.

The Cherries picked up 20 points in their first ten games, including a 4-2 demolition of Leicester and a 4-0 away rout at Watford.

Fans were jubilant, as none expected such a quick fire start, and now were looking beyond the horizon at a possible Europa League spot.

However, an injury to key midfielder and England Under-21 international Lewis Cook seemed to attract a string of lacklustre performances from Bournemouth, resulting in losses away at Newcastle, Wolves and Everton. The Cherries were also on the wrong end of a goal scoring spree from title challengers Liverpool at Vitality Stadium.

Further injuries to striker Callum Wilson and skipper Simon Francis also made the uphill task for the Cherries even more steep.

Despite this the South Coast side still sit 12th in the Premier League table, but boast only one win in their last five – the sole victory being a 2-0 away win at rock bottom side Huddersfield.

To see if Bournemouth can reach their top ten ambitions come the season finale, Nerve Sport‘s Harvey Camp looks ahead at their remaining fixtures and gives his predictions:

Saturday 16th March: Bournemouth vs Newcastle

Prediction: 2-2

Newcastle arrive at the Vitality on the back of three wins out of their last five, easily bettering Bournemouth’s record of one win, and fought back brilliantly to beat Everton in their last outing.

One spot separates these sides in the table so it will no doubt be a close affair despite recent form.

However I personally can’t see home advantage being of any help to the Cherries in this one. I expect both teams to attack and I expect both teams to concede and score goals.

Saturday 30th March: Leicester City vs Bournemouth

Prediction: 3-1

Despite the score suggestion I still think this is a game that could tip in anyone’s favour.

Both teams thrive on their attacking play, particularly Leicester now under the command of Brendan Rodgers. And we all know that Howe will instruct his players to have a go whoever they come up against.

But towards the end of the game I can just see Leicester running away with it and grabbing a couple of quick fire goals – but I definitely expect Bournemouth to match them stride for stride for large amounts of the contest.

Saturday 6th April: Bournemouth vs Burnley

Prediction: 2-1

Wherever Burnley go they make it very difficult for teams to break them down and have thrived on that set-up since promotion to the Premier League.

Manager Sean Dyche is ruthless with how he sets up his back line and I expect them to make it very difficult for the Cherries’ strike force in this fixture.

However in this particular moment I do see home advantage coming into play. I think the fans will play a big part in pushing their team over the line and I do see a tight win for the home side.

This is a game Howe will want to win at all costs, and will see it as a huge opportunity missed if his side drop points.

Saturday 13th April: Brighton vs Bournemouth

Prediction: 1-3

If my previous prediction happens to be correct (you guess how likely that is!) then that’s my reasoning behind this comprehensive Bournemouth win at the Amex.

Brighton are no doubt a side who have proved their worth in the Premier League this season, picking up massive wins along the way in some games in which pundits didn’t give them the time of day; and as of now boast a record of three wins out of their last five. However despite this I can only see a win for Howe’s men here.

I think in attacking terms the Cherries will prove too strong for the Brighton back line, and with the Seagulls currently sitting in 15th the away side will again see it as a game that points should be earned in as opposed to lost.

Saturday 20th April: Bournemouth vs Fulham

Prediction: 1-0

For me this fixture’s outcome will come down to how Fulham sit in the Premier League. The away side could well have faced relegation by then, barring a string of great results, and therefore are likely to play with less fear and a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality.

In many cases this can cause teams with something to play for a lot of problems. Again this is a game, from my perspective, which can offer all sorts of results and is dependent on the both sides’ previous outings.

Despite this predicament I’ll have to land on a narrow win for the home side, but I don’t think it’s a fixture that will unravel as spectators expect it to.

Saturday 27th April: Southampton vs Bournemouth

Prediction: 2-1

A local derby…and a game that’s no stranger to shooting strange results up in the air on a very consistent basis!

Saints have no doubt improved under Ralph Hassenhüttl, who has brought back the feel good factor at St. Mary’s after a string of good results, including a home win over top four side Tottenham Hotspur. They’ve shown their ability to take home games by the scruff of the neck and that’s where I think Howe’s men will fall in this contest.

I like to think that all derbies will be close and I expect this one to be, however with Southampton being at home and playing under this new, expansive system I’d expect it to be a too big of an ask for the visitors.

Bournemouth vs Tottenham Hotspur

Prediction: 2-3

I definitely think this is a game that the Cherries can approach with as minimal amount of pressure as possible. Spurs will no doubt be looking to secure top four status and will look at this fixture as a very important stepping stone in doing so.

Despite the fluctuating levels of pressure heading into the contest I can only see one winner here, but I expect goals galore in the process. As briefly outlined previously Bournemouth will attack and will attack in numbers, that’s a given every time the whistle is blown and I expect them to score goals in front of a home crowd.

However Spurs’ attacking quality will shine through and reign superior in this one.

Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth

Prediction: 0-0

Yes boring I know…but I still think a bold move on my part to call a 0-0!

In all seriousness I can’t see Palace or the Cherries going all out in a fixture that has no real repercussions. I expect both teams to be safe in their respective league positions and a draw wouldn’t be the worst outcome for both parties.

Looking at both teams individually, Palace have had some huge results this season, notably against current leaders Manchester City at the Etihad. During this they showed their resilience to hold down an invaluable lead. I can’t see them letting in goals at all, especially at home and especially in this fixture.

Again I’d expect to see an attacking display from Howe’s men but I can’t see a ruthless display, just simply down to the magnitude of the fixture. It screams a goalless draw to me.

The Cherries’ predicted final place: 12th

This obviously defends on how results play out around Howe’s men, but taking into consideration their upcoming fixtures and the squad they have to hand I personally see them staying exactly where they are. A mixture of wins and losses will be the story of their remainder of the season.

However, I would consider a 12th place finish to be a massive achievement for AFC Bournemouth and an ideal stepping stone for them to push on in the 2019/20 season.