AFC Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Tactical Preview

After a quick trip to Belgium, Spurs travel to Bournemouth the take on the newly-promoted Cherries. 

Bournemouth dominated the Championship last season – both in results and tactically. Manager Eddie Howe’s side played a possession-based style, leading the second division in possession rate (56.4%) and pass success (79.5%). They suffocated teams and limited their opponents to the second-fewest shots per game in the league (11.4).

Upon promotion, Howe stated that the team would maintain its possession-dominance style in the first division. This is easier said than done, but while the Cherries might not play the most dominant football in the league, but they are 7th in the league in possession rate (51.7%), solid for a newly-promoted side. Against City last weekend, however, Howe was slightly more pragmatic, deploying a 4-1-4-1 in lieu of the usual 4-4-1-1/4-4-2, though it’s hard to blame him for going into the Etihad with a defensive mindset. Given that Bournemouth will be lining up against a well-traveled Spurs side on minimal rest, they may see an opportunity to revert back to a dominance-focused system. 

Injuries have hit the Cherries hard – first choice goalkeeper, Arthur Boruc is unlikely to start Sunday after being pulled from warm-ups last weekend with a thigh injury. Boruc is the latest edition to a long list of casualties including first choice striker, Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings, Max Gradel, Tommy Elphick, and Ryan Fraser. With these injuries in mind, here’s what we might see from Howe…

The second choice goalkeeper is Australian, Adam Federici. Federici made his first appearance of the season at the Etihad. Unsurprisingly, things did not go well. Federici and his defense allowed five goals, one of which was a result of an error by the goalkeeper. Though we ought not to judge, our own Hugo had a similar experience in Manchester. 

Tommy Elphick’s injury means Sylvain Distin will join Steve Cook in the center of defense. On the left is Charlie Daniels and at right back is Simon Francis. Both Francis and Daniels look to get forward and contribute a significant number of crosses, in fact, Francis has a Club-leading two assists. 

In the centre of midfield, look for Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman. Surman is the more defensive of the pair and will sit slightly deeper. Should Howe use the 4-1-4-1 that he employed against City, Surman will be the single holding midfielder. Gosling and Surman are key to Bournemouth’s possession-dominance style, they lead the team in pass accuracy (83.3% and 86.7%, respectively) and look to control the center of the pitch.

On the wings are Marc Pugh and Matt Richie – neither has been a significant offensive contributor this year, so look for the greatest threat from the outside to come from the outside backs. 

In the absence of Callum Wilson, who scored a team-leading five goals before succumbing to injury, Glenn Murray will slot in up top. Underneath him we will likely see Joshua King. 

An injury to Nacer Chadli and the return of Eric Dier mean we will see some changes from the Spurs side that lined up against Liverpool.  Either N’Jie or Townsend should replace Chadli, while Dier should replace either Dembélé or Alli. 

Despite the Europa League match and the travel involved, the Spurs Projected Goal Difference is +.49 in favor of Spurs, indicating that we should see a draw or win. Spurs haven’t lost in the Premier League since the first day of the season, and it seems unlikely that they will again on Sunday, particularly in light of the injury situation facing Howe. 

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