After the disappointment of last season, Bournemouth fans were keen to see what this campaign would have in store having appointed former Fulham manager Scott Parker. With their top-quality squad remaining largely intact over the summer, and with the club making exciting new signings, things were looking up for the Cherries. It is safe to say that essentially every single decision made by the side in preparation for the 2021/22 season has worked well so far, and the South Coast side are currently six points clear atop the Championship (having played one game more than most of the teams below them) and are five points better off than they were at the same stage last campaign.
AFC Bournemouth Having a Near Perfect Season So Far
Great Results Accompanied by Pleasing Performances
Of all the ways in which things are going so well for Bournemouth, their results are perhaps the most obvious.
Scott Parker’s men are the only team in the EFL to remain unbeaten so far this season, with nine wins and four draws to their name after 13 matches. This gives them 31 points from a possible 39, an impressive record that sets them on track to win the league if they can continue in such impressive form.
Further, the Cherries have shown real character in all of their league performances under Parker. They have tended to control games, their 74% possession against Bristol City on Saturday the third highest in a Championship game this season, and this has allowed them to make full use of the quality they have in their squad. While the scoreline in none of their games has suggested domination from the Cherries, a closer look at the statistics and watching the game in real-time shows that their displays have in fact been largely commanding. Going back to the fixture against Bristol City, a 2-0 final score in Bournemouth’s favour doesn’t show how they could–and probably should–have scored four or five.
Where they haven’t dictated possession, Parker’s side have still managed to grind out results. For instance, when they played Stoke City on Tuesday night, it was a gritty performance and a poacher’s goal from Dominic Solanke more than anything else that earned them the victory. Moreover, having fallen behind to newly relegated Sheffield United in a match at the Vitality Stadium earlier this month, the Cherries turned it around almost immediately scoring twice in quick succession, and within ten minutes of the Blades’ goal, it was 2-1 to Bournemouth.
The Cherries also have a very impressive defensive record, having conceded just eight league goals this season. Parker’s side have almost gone the last ten hours of football away from home without conceding. There have been over 580 minutes of play since the ball last flew into the Bournemouth net while they were on the road, a record that stretches all the way back to August 14–the second game of the season.
Talented Squad With Perfect Balance Between Youth and Experience
While the results show that Bournemouth have been successful since August, their squad gives cause to believe that this can be sustained throughout the season.
While key players like Nathan Ake, Callum Wilson, and Arnaut Danjuma have all left the Vitality Stadium since the Cherries’ relegation from the Premier League in 2020, this campaign’s team is arguably the most likeable–and potentially the best–they have ever had.
The likes of Jefferson Lerma, Philip Billing, Lewis Cok, Dominic Solanke, and David Brooks all remain on the South Coast, and all play vital parts in the success of the team. Alongside these recognisable names, many fantastic additions have been made to the squad over the past 12 months. Ben Pearson, Ryan Christie, Gary Cahill, and Jamal Lowe are among these and have all proven to be great signings. The experience provided by Cahill has been especially valuable for the Cherries this season, creating a formidable partnership with Lloyd Kelly in the heart of the defence.
Moreover, academy graduates Jaidon Anthony, Jordan Zemura, and Gavin Kilkenny have all become important parts of the first team at Dean Court. Anthony and Zemura in particular have managed to secure regular places in the starting 11 this season, both having performed incredibly well and made a real difference when on the pitch.
There also appears to be real chemistry between the Bournemouth squad at the moment, demonstrated by how they banded together in support of teammate David Brooks, who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.
With this mixture of promising youth and top-level experience among such a united squad filled with talent, Bournemouth were always going to have a successful season, and with Scott Parker, an incredibly accomplished manager, doing a superb job of steering the ship, it’s safe to say that the Cherries should have a great rest of the season in store.