AFC Bournemouth

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Sunday PL preview: Man City hosts West Ham; Saints travel to Bournemouth

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A stunning display of form over the first third of the season has Manchester City well ahead of its challengers, so it’ll take something special from its opponent on Sunday to hand Pep Guardiola‘s side its first defeat of the 2017/18 season.

[ MORE: Bayern opens up six-point gap in Bundesliga ]

The Premier League leaders will play host to relegation side West Ham United in the day’s second match, which is preceded by two clubs hoping to crack the top 10.

Bournemouth will take on Southampton from the Vitality Stadium, as the Cherries and Saints currently sit within two points of one another.

Below is a more in-depth look at Sunday’s two top-flight matches.

Bournemouth vs. Southampton — 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Cherries enter the weekend four points clear of the bottom three in England, but a victory over Southampton could potentially propel the side above their opponent.

Eddie Howe‘s squad is coming off of a 2-1 home defeat to Burnley on Wednesday, so the quick turnaround will test Bournemouth’s fortitude. Overall, the Cherries are unbeaten in three of their last five matches, with their only two losses coming to top 6 sides (Chelsea & Burnley).

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pellegrino’s team has had a rough go of things as of late with matches against Liverpool, Burnley and Man City all going in favor of the PL top dogs. The only win in Southampton’s last four came last weekend with a convincing 4-1 win over struggling Everton.

In this fixture, the Saints have had Bournemouth’s number as of late, picking up points in seven of their last eight meetings (5W, 2D, 1L).

Manchester City vs. West Ham United — 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Can anyone stop the Citizens? It seems to be a legitimate question as Guardiola’s men continue to trudge along at the top of the PL.

[ MORE: Chelsea cruises past Newcastle after Hazard brace ]

City’s form to start the season has many wondering if the Manchester side will amass Chelsea’s points record set back in 2004/05 when the Blues recorded 95 points. At the moment, the Citizens have secured 40 points out of a possible 42, and the side would acquire nearly 112 points if it kept up its current pace of 2.85 points per game.

Of course, that’s slightly unrealistic.

The numbers certainly aren’t on the side of West Ham, who lost all three fixtures to City last season by a combined scoreline of 12-1.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Andy Carroll remains out for the Hammers, while Winston Reid looks like he’ll also be on the shelf for David Moyes‘ group.

Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton: Cherries come back for first points

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  • Sonny March put Brighton up after halftime
  • Andrew Surman and Jermain Defoe brought the Cherries back
  • Jordon Ibe produced two assists for Bournemouth

Jermain Defoe had done little through the first 70 minutes, and it seems that’s when he’s most dangerous. The former England international struck with 15 minutes to go, giving the Cherries their first win and first points of the 2017/18 Premier League season.

There was an opening 45 minutes. It was so awful that these two sentences will be all we have to describe it.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Don’t believe us? Fine, here’s one more sentence: the first half featured one shot on target, one corner, zero serious chances on goal, zero offside calls, seven fouls, and zero Brighton touches in the Bournemouth penalty area.

May we continue?

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Moving on to the second half, things were just as cagey, but Brighton began to attack with more venom. Shane Duffy had a header cleared off the line 51 minutes in. That would prove prophetic, as the visitors scored minutes later. A wonderful through-ball down the left sprung Pascal Gross, and he delivered a pinpoint cross to the head of Solly March who headed in from point-blank range.

The game opened up ,and Bournemouth responded, leveling things up 10 minutes later. Jordon Ibe produced a wonderful back-heel assist to put Andrew Surman on the ball, and the 31-year-old South African skipped past a defender and delivered the ball into the far corner of the net.

The Cherries nearly got another as Ibe collected a poor Brighton clearance at the top of the box and rifled on net, with the shot destined for the far corner but blocked by a sliding Lewis Dunk. During that chance, Gross was injured under a challenge from Nathan Ake and required a physio visit. That forced him off momentarily, and soon after the restart before Gross could come back on, the Cherries struck with the temporary advantage.

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Ibe again played creator as he stayed on the ball under heavy contact, feeding Defoe with an outside-foot pass. The 34-year-old took his chance, burying the shot past Maty Ryan for a 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute. The goal is his first of the season.

That was it the rest of the way, as Brighton had little ability to push the attack to look for a late point.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

The points for Bournemouth were massive, moving them out of 19th and even with Leicester City and West Ham. That leaves Crystal Palace as the only team without a point this season. Brighton remains in 14th with four points.

Premier League Preview: Bournemouth vs. Manchester City

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  • Raheem Sterling has scored five Premier League goals against Bournemouth; more than versus any club in the competition. This includes his only Premier League hat-trick in October 2015.
  • Sergio Aguero has scored in seven successive Premier League away appearances. Only Robin Van Persie (nine matches) has a better run.
  • Benjamin Mendy could make his Manchester City debut.
  • Bournemouth will be without Simon Francis (hamstring), Junior Stanislas (groin) and Callum Wilson (knee), but Jermain Defoe is close to full fitness after recovering from a groin strain.

Manchester City is looking to continue its unbeaten run as it travels to face the Cherries of AFC Bournemouth (Watch live at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Pep Guardiola‘s side is coming off a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Everton but Guardiola is still phasing in some of the team’s new signings, including Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy, who could make his debut this weekend, especially with the suspension of Kyle Walker.

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The Cherries meanwhile are off to a tough start, dropping to 16th in the Premier League with losses to West Bromwich Albion and Watford in the first two weeks. Having Jermain Defoe finally fit and a midweek win over Birmingham City in the EFL Cup could be enough to lift the club’s spirits ahead of a tough challenge with Manchester City.

What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola on Bournemouth: “The Premier League is so complicated, so special. Sometimes in Champions League the teams they play and they let you play. Bournemouth are a team who want to play. The manager is so good in those terms. They did a fantastic season last season. Okay, They start with two defeats but sometimes that can happen, it’s just the beginning.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe on his team’s start: “It gets tougher every year, the competition gets more intense and the players get better. This will be the hardest Premier League ever because it’s the most recent one. With the money in the Premier League now the standard of the players coming in is always improving and that makes it ever-harder for each team to compete. It’s a challenge we always look forward to taking on.”

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Prediction

History says this is Manchester City’s game to lose and based on the way both teams have started this season, there’s no reason to believe it won’t be a similar outcome, even with Man City on the road. Manchester City 3-1 Bournemouth

Premier League 2017-18 preview – Bournemouth

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AFC Bournemouth’s sharp rise in the English football hierarchy has been nothing short of stunning.

Five years ago, the team were playing in League One. Now, they’re entrenched happily in the Premier League.

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Bournemouth, led by rising coaching star Eddie Howe, finished a club-record ninth last season in the Premier League, recording 46 points and winning three of its last four matches. The club’s offense was something to behold, scoring 55 goals, the sixth-best mark in the league.

But the club isn’t resting on its laurels. Howe and co. made some impressive summer signings, bringing back three players with a history at the club. Jermain Defoe, Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake, the club’s new record signing, all played at some point in their careers for the club on loan, while youngster Connor Mahoney joins from struggling Blackburn.

More importantly, the team has (so far) been able to hold onto star forward Joshua King and midfielders Harry Arter and Dan Gosling.

[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub

Now the question for Bournemouth is whether its reached a ceiling. And if not, how much more could it improve in the standings.

Best, worst case scenario: The best case scenario for Bournemouth right now is another mid-table finish, perhaps pushing Everton or Southampton on the edge of a European place, as well as a nice run in the League and FA Cups. Worst case, it’s another relegation battle for Bournemouth that it can’t seem to extract itself out of, whether due to a fractured locker room or injuries keeping important players off the field.

Best possible XI is…


—– Begovic —–

— Francis — Ake — Cook — Daniels —-

—- Arter —- Gosling —- Pugh —- Gradel —-

—– King —– Defoe —–


Transfers In: Asmir Begovic ($13.2 million, Chelsea), Nathan Ake ($26.5 million, Chelsea), Jermain Defoe (Free, Sunderland), Connor Mahoney (Free, Blackburn)

Transfers Out: Callum Buckley (Free, Weymouth), Jake McCarthy (Free), Matt Neale (Free)

Last season

9th place in Premier League

Third Round of EFL Cup

Third Round of the 2016-2017 FA Cup

29th July 2017, Loftus Road, Shepherds Bush, London, England, Pre-season football friendly, Queens Park Rangers versus AFC Bournemouth; Joshua King of AFC Bournemouth in action (Photo by John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Star player: Joshua King – The former Manchester United youngster had a breakout season in the Premier League, scoring 16 goals and helping stave off relegation for Bournemouth for a third-consecutive season, all while putting himself in the shop window for Europe’s biggest clubs. Now the question is whether he can repeat these numbers, or how his production will change alongside Jermain Defoe. Bournemouth will need to find goals from somewhere, and another 15-plus goal season from King should keep the club in the Premier League for another season.

Coaches’ Corner: Eddie Howe has done the unthinkable, keeping tiny Bournemouth in the Premier League for yet another season. It’s why his name is constantly linked with other Premier League openings, including Arsenal should Arsene Wenger ever retire or be forced out. But more impressively, Howe’s done it his way, choosing to play an expansive brand of football in a league where sometimes that is punished. And in a way, he was punished, with his team giving up 67 goals last season. But by scoring 55 goals, many of those timely towards the close of the season, it ended up canceling out some of the rough games earlier in the year. Howe is a future England National Team managerial candidate for a reason, and with an even stronger squad in 2017-2018, it will be interesting to see where he can guide the team.

July 30th, Dean Court, Bournemouth, Dorset, England, Pre-season football friendly, AFC Bournemouth versus Valencia; Bournemouth Manager Eddie Howe smiles for fans before kick off (Photo by Mark Kerton/Action Plus via Getty Images)

PST predicts: If Bournemouth’s current squad remains whole through the end of the transfer window (with perhaps another defensive signing), the club have a terrific chance of repeating its mid-table finish. PST believes that Bournemouth will be in the thick of the relegation battle, but should manage to separate itself from the rest by at least 10 points once more.

Bournemouth completes record signing of Chelsea’s Ake

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Bournemouth has signed their man, officially.

[ MORE: No takeover at Sunderland, but club does have new manager ]

The Cherries announced on Friday that the club has agreed to terms on a deal with Chelsea defender Nathan Ake, who becomes Bournemouth’s richest signing in Premier League history.

It’s being reported that the transfer fee was in excess of $25 million, however, neither club has confirmed that number.

“I had a great time here last season so I’m really happy to be back,” said Ake.

“It’s an exciting challenge. Chelsea is a great club and I learned so much there but this is a new step and the right place for me to develop even more.

Ake made 12 appearances for Bournemouth last season in the Premier League while on loan from the Blues, including netting three goals in that span from his outside back position.

The Cherries had been heavily pursuing Ake since he was recalled from his loan during the second half of the 2016/17 season.