Pompey v Bournemouth: Insider

AFC Bournemouth's Benik Afobe
AFC Bournemouth's Benik Afobe
Pompey skipper Brett Pitman. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey skipper lifts lid on injury issues

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It’s fair to say Bournemouth have made steady progress and begun to get to grips with the Premier League.

They had a reasonable start to life in the top flight but a couple of heavy defeats against Manchester City and Spurs set the alarm bells ringing.

However, there was a revival towards the end of November and in December to certainly indicate they would be able to hold their own in their first Premier League season.

What on paper looked a punishing schedule of fixtures in December saw them emerge with a hat-trick of wins, starting with a 1-0 victory at Chelsea and continuing with triumphs over Manchester United and then West Brom.

There were some excellent attacking additions at the start of this month in the form of Lewis Grabban and Juan Iturbe and they will certainly boost Eddie Howe’s firepower options.

In addition, club record signing Benik Afobe has scored twice in his opening three matches to hit the ground running.

Of those that have shone this season, left-back Charlie Daniels has long been something of an unsung hero down the years, but really shot to prominence in the top flight.

The 29-year-old has produced a series of outstanding displays, leading to his name being mentioned as a possible England candidate.

Simon Francis signed a new three-and-a-half year deal last week and was asked to switch from right-back to centre-back after Sylvain Distin was ill ahead of the Chelsea game.

He has since been an absolute revelation alongside Steve Cook and Distin now cannot get back into the side.

Sylvain has done okay since he arrived, while Matt Ritchie has continued his good form from last season into the Premier League.

I believe Bournemouth can avoid relegation but the next six weeks is a key period, with matches against Villa, Newcastle and Swansea coming up.

You could argue they need to get the points sooner rather than later because they appear to have a very difficult run in.

In saying that, they have already beaten Chelsea and Manchester United this season!

After starting the campaign quite well, the Cherries picked up a number of long-term injuries in quick succession, coinciding with them having a little bit of a dip.

Once they steadied the ship by mid-November they have started to show they have adjusted to the top level.