For AFC Bournemouth, there’s no other way to slice it: 2016 was a success. Sure they finished just two spots clear of the relegation zone, but for a club experiencing the Premier League for the first time ever, what more could you ask for?
Additionally, they did it without Callum Wilsona��their biggest goal threata��for most of the campaign. After rupturing his cruciate ligament in September, Wilson didn’t return until April. Before his injury, he found the back of the net five times in seven matches. Bournemouth’s leading scorer, Joshua King, finished with six goals total. In 32 matches. It cannot be overstated how important Callum Wilson is to Bournemouth’s chances.
Let’s just hope the Cherries can keep hold of him.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of bright, young talent headed their way. American midfielder Emerson Hyndman makes his way from Fulham on a free. What was Fulham thinking? Youngsters Jordan Ibe and Brad Smith, both formerly of Liverpool, bring a little more experience to the table. They get Nathan AkA� on loan again from Chelsea, not to mention promising midfielder Lewis Cook from Leeds.
The pieces are all there, now it just comes down to executing. Avoiding the injury bug tops Bournemouth’s list of to-dos, but it’s never that easy, is it? Through sales of three men nearing their late 20s, including midfielder Matt Ritchie, the Cherries have had a very solid transfer window. Youth coats this lineup. The oldest outfield player, Simon Francis, is 31, and he’s the only outfield player over 30. Meanwhile, two of their three goalkeepers surpass that threshold.
Offensively last season, Bournemouth were about where you’d expect for a club battling relegation. They didn’t blow clubs away, but they sure weren’t close to being the least effective in attack. It was defensively, however, where gaping holes were exposed. Bournemouth conceded 67 goals, more than any other club not relegated. The same amount or more than two of the three clubs relegated.
Ideally, bolstering their midfield will help remedy that. Additionally, adding more defenders (Smith, AkA�) was absolutely necessary.
And on paper, this Bournemouth side is stronger than last season’s. But as we know, nothing is guaranteed. Can they stay up for a second straight year?
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