By Sir Hardly Anyone
On 9 February this year Bournemouth played a home FA Cup match against Boreham Wood and lost 0-1. It was on TV and I think a lot of supporters of the Women’s team watched on TV (as indeed I did) supporting The Wood as of course that is where the team play a lot of their home games.
I’m not too sure Bournemouth minded however. Across the remaining 18 Championship games they had to play they won 10 and drew six. It was enough to give them automatic promotion six points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.
Against all the odds Bournemouth had survived five seasons in the top league before going back down, and it has taken them only two years to climb back up. A remarkable achievement in a ground that holds only 11,364, and a club that has been looking to move for a number of years. The ground is in fact the same ground that housed the club from its earliest days including from 1924 to 1969 when it had a continuous run in the Third Division (South) and the Third Division. In its previous five years in the Premier League before relegation the club came 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th and then 18th in 2019-20 when it was relegated.
The population of the conurbation the club draws its prime support from is just over half a million, which is a far bigger area than the conurbation surrounding, for example, Burnley FC, but it is not an area with a long history of supporting the local football club.
Bournemouth finished last season with four wins and four draws scoring 12 goals in those eight games ending up as the second highest scorers in the league…
And this summer their dipping into the transfer market has been modest including Senesi for £12.6 from Feyenoord, Tavernier, for £210m from Middlesbrough, and the appropriately named Neto, the keeper from Barcelona on a free, along with a couple of other free transfers.
Thus they appear to be following the Norwich City path of going up, taking the money, but not spending it on an attempt to stay up. Then if they go down, keeping much the same team and having another exciting year getting promotion.
This is the opposite sort of approach from, for example, Nottingham Forest who having finally come up, aim to stay there, seeing themselves perhaps like Aston Villa as a team destined for Premier League status. (Forest have spent over £100m this summer).
Bournemouth’s home form last season was impressive, gaining an equal number of points as Fulham.
Arsenal in contrast were sixth if just away games are measured, ending up with a negative goal difference away from home.
|5||Brighton and Hove Albion||19||7||8||4||23||21||2||29|
I would imagine Bournemouth are rather content with their start to the season with a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa and then a 4-0 away defeat to Manchester City. Of course 4-0 always hurts, but having got that first victory under their belts at home they must fancy their chance of nicking something against Arsenal. My feeling is if we can get an early goal, that will of course force them out a little and leave exactly the spaces that we revelled in against Leicester.
And we can perhaps take some extra comfort – if any is needed – from the history of the games between the clubs….
|27 Oct 1987||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||3-0||League Cup|
|28 Dec 2015||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||2-0||Premier League|
|07 Feb 2016||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||W||0-2||Premier League|
|27 Nov 2016||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||3-1||Premier League|
|03 Jan 2017||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||D||3-3||Premier League|
|09 Sep 2017||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||3-0||Premier League|
|14 Jan 2018||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|25 Nov 2018||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||W||1-2||Premier League|
|27 Feb 2019||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||5-1||Premier League|
|06 Oct 2019||Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth||W||1-0||Premier League|
|26 Dec 2019||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||D||1-1||Premier League|
|27 Jan 2020||AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal||W||1-2||FA Cup|
They have beaten Arsenal just once in January 2018 – a result which was certainly a surprise since at the time Arsenal were sixth in the league and Bournemouth 17th. It was part of a Bournemouth revival which saw them end the season in 12th – their second best finish ever – although much was also due to the collapse of the other teams at the foot of the table.
Bournemouth missed the drop by 11 points as Swansea, Stoke City and West Bromwich went down.
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