We check out the Premier League’s surprise package
The Premier League table is already taking a familiar shape. Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City occupy the top three spots, with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and fifth. Yet AFC Bournemouth are breaking the mould in sixth.
Eddie Howe’s men have impressed in the early season, clocking up six wins from 10 matches and collecting 20 points from 30 available. Another 26 more and they’ll equal their record tally in the Premier League.
So we decided to take a look at what’s going so right down at the Vitality Stadium this season.
Bournemouth have been burned by big money transfers in recent years. Jordon Ibe, Benik Afobe, Max Gradel and Lys Mousset have all arrived for a decent fee – with each one failing to properly impress. Go further back and you can add one time-record signing Tokelo Rantie to that list.
So the capture of talismanic midfielder David Brooks was a welcome return to form for Eddie Howe and co. The Welsh youngster was plucked from the Championship in the summer and has shone straight away in the Premier League. His goal against Fulham at the weekend was his third of the campaign, with Howe singling him out for praise after the match.
Brooks is only one man in a team which is performing better than the sum of its parts. But his character and background is indicative of the type of recruitment that has served Howe so well over the years. It’s no surprise that his acquisition has seemingly lifted the Cherries to a new level.
Case for the defence
A big issue for Bournemouth in the Premier League has been their inability to defend as a unit. The Cherries have conceded 67, 67 and 61 goals in each of their three seasons in the top-flight. That works out a rate of almost two per game.
This season that has changed. Howe’s men have conceded just 12 goals so far; a third of which came during a freak 0-4 defeat to Burnley. Not only has the defence itself been better, the screen in front of it has improved too. Jefferson Lerma is a cut above what the Cherries previously had in that area and – like Brooks – his acquisition is bearing fruit.
Maintain their current defensive record over the course of the campaign and they’ll concede 46 goals. Football isn’t that easy, of course. But it’s a positive notion to take going forward.
The Cherries are next in action in the Premier League against Manchester United on Saturday. They’re 12/5 to win that and collect three points which could move them into the top-four – dependent on other results.
Their good start has seen the club drift out to 100/1 to be relegated this season, with a top-four push considered a much more likely proposition by our traders. Howe's men are favourites to gain a Champions League spot outside of the ‘big six’ at 40/1.
Elsewhere, they’re 25/1 to lift the Carabao Cup, while we go 50/1 about them winning the FA Cup later on in the season.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing