Obviously I try to focus on AFC Bournemouth for my articles, but after watching Sunderland relegated by Josh King’s strike his weekend I feel I have to have to start by offering my sympathies for the Wearside club.
I primarily feel for the team’s fans, who have suffered through some dire football in recent years – seeing their side struggle year on year in the Premier League with no visible progress being made. You can only hope the relegation allows them to bounce back and be stronger for it, but it’ll be tough.
In terms of the game itself this weekend, it was no classic – despite what was at stake for the home side. Here are the five things I took away from it as an AFC Bournemouth fan.
Despite my sympathy there’s no doubt Sunderland deserve to be relegated. Saturday proved that, as many attacking moves they attempted broke down despite no pressure being applied by ourselves. They are side lacking any real identity, and I couldn’t really see what they were attempting to dp throughout the match.
That said, we were attempting to match them in all these areas – with what was one of our most shambolic performances of the season. Constant passes were being misplaced, and our attacking play often lacked any real drive or verve. But despite that…
We won, but I don’t really know how. Even Howe admitted we played poorly, and Artur Boruc labelled the result as a “lucky win.” It does show how we can win even when not putting in a great display however, a quality we could have done with in some games earlier this season. Still, better late than never.
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Two up front
Although the first half was scrappy it was nothing compared to the second. In the first 45 minutes we were the team in the ascendancy, and in my mind that was down to the fact we had two up front – Josh King and Benik Afobe. There was some solid link play between the pair, and they both had presentable opportunities to open the scoring.
After Benik Afobe’s injury after 57 minutes the ball simply wouldn’t stick up top for us though. We were very fortunate Sunderland didn’t capitalise.
Replacing Afobe with Junior Stanislas was a strange decision from Howe too, as he barely made an impression in whatever role he was attempting to play. It was only until Lys Mousset came on at the end when we finally put together a decent attacking move for our winner.
Poor on the wings
Our lack of threat going forward wasn’t helped by some frustratingly sloppy play on the wings. Marc Pugh was a hero for us last week, but was poor on Saturday. He was guilty of misplaced passes, runs that went nowhere, and some uncharacteristically sloppy link play with Charlie Daniels.
The same could also be said of Ryan Fraser. Until he played a delightful ball into our man of the moment of course…
Hail to the King
Josh King really is turning into a player that we’ll struggle to hold onto for much longer. Despite the game’s low quality he shone for much of it. He caused problems with his pace and knew exactly when to press Sunderland’s back four. He earned his goal and he fully deserves all the plaudits he’s receiving.