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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.

World record-holding manager Gutendorf dies at 93

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The world record holder for most teams managed has died at the age of 93.

Rudi Gutendorf, who managed in the United States with the NASL’s St. Louis Stars (1968), last managed in 2003 when he led the Samoa national team.

[ MORE: Maguire shining for Man Utd ]

Those are two of 55 teams he led onto the pitch, 22 of which were national teams. He led teams from CONCACAF (Trinidad and Tobago), CAF (Ghana), CONMEBOL (Chile), OFC (Fiji), and AFC (Australia).

The German-born Gutendorf did a lot of his club work in Europe, leading clubs as big as Hamburg, Schalke, Real Valladolid, and Hertha Berlin.

Gutendorf managed Rwanda in the wake of the country’s dark civil war. From DW.com:

“Such hate, you cannot believe. I was able to unite these two tribes to play football, and good football,” he said in a 2013 interview of the mixed Rwandan team of Hutu and Tutsi players.

What a fascinating career Gutendorf had, and the stories he’s told.

Man Utd’s Maguire “showed what a man he is” versus Leicester

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Manchester United is still working to find its form as a team, but center back Harry Maguire continued his run of fine performances when the Red Devils beat his former team on Saturday.

United beat Leicester City 1-0 on the day, a Marcus Rashford penalty the difference, but Maguire and fellow new back Aaron Wan-Bissaka were again exceptional.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Leicester City ]

Ashley Young has been through a few iterations of Manchester United, and the long-time club offered up lofty words to credit Maguire’s contributions to the team.

“Again he showed today what a man he is,” Young said. “You know, I think the manager’s said about him, he talks non-stop, he’s a real leader and he can play as well.”

Maguire won five aerial battles and two tackles while completing 83 percent of his passes and managing two shots against his former side (WhoScored). On the season, only Anthony Martial has consistently been more important to the team.

He also did not record a loss of possession, and seemingly was unbothered by plenty of criticism from the traveling fans. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I don’t think it bothers (Maguire) whatsoever,” said Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You’ve got to be that way and when you play, when you coach, when you manage, we don’t get carried away when we win a game that we maybe didn’t deserve to win, but we don’t get in the dumps when we don’t win.”

Solskjaer also loved Maguire and Victor Lindelof for their performance against pesky Leicester star Jamie Vardy.

“I’ve got loads of admiration for Vardy,” Solskjaer said. “I think he’s my type of centre forward, runs in in behind, harasses and you’ve got to be spot on with the decision-making, when to stay up, when to drop off, and both of them proved their worth today. There were a couple of races and Harry did well.”

Maguire didn’t love being on the other side of Vardy, either.

“It was tough playing against Jamie,” he said. “I’ve played with him for two years and he is a top player who can terrorize defenses when he is on his game. … We knew it was important to get the win, especially after the international break. We have to build on a solid base and we want to keep clean sheets, especially at Old Trafford. We are always going to score goals with the attacking talent we have.”

United hosts Kazakhstan’s Astana on Thursday in the Europa League before visiting West Ham United on Sept. 22.

Watch Live: Bournemouth v. Everton

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets the start up top as Everton looks to take down hosts Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Richarlison join Calvert-Lewin in attack for the Toffees, who can go fourth with a win.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Bournemouth enters the day in 16th, a point ahead of the bottom three, but can rise into the top half with a win. Early season vibes.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Ramsdale, Rico, Ake, Cook, Stacey, Solanke, Billing, L. S. Cook, Wilson, King, Wilson. Subs: Boruc, Surman, Lerma, Ibe, Fraser, Simpson, Mepham.

Everton: Pickford, Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman, Delph, Schneiderlin, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin. Subs: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Walcott, Sidibe, Bernard, Davies, Kean.

USWNT legend O’Reilly scores stunner on night to honor her career

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USWNT hero and North Carolina Courage playmaker Heather O’Reilly gave her special day its just desserts.

The 34-year-old New Jersey native scored a sweet goal late in North Carolina’s 6-1 demolition of Orlando Pride on Saturday night, which just so happened to be the evening chosen to celebrate her 17-year career.

[ MORE: Fan banned from all NWSL games ]

O’Reilly dribbled down the left before cutting to the middle and slashing a shot across the goal and inside the far post.

She has 231 USWNT caps with 47 goals, a Women’s World Cup crown, three Olympic gold medals, three top-flight domestic titles, two Women’s College Cups, and an FA Cup with Arsenal Ladies.

The Courage have four matches left in the regular season and look set to again be the No. 1 seed, so O’Reilly may yet have more memorable moments left in her playing career.