We continue with our Scouting Report series on the EPL’s newly-promoted sides by taking a look at AFC Bournemouth’s return to the Premier League after a two-year hiatus. The south-coast club was previously in the Premier League from 2015-2020 under former manager Eddie Howe, who now coaches Newcastle.
Road to Promotion
Bournemouth earned automatic promotion to the Premier League as runners-up to champions Fulham. The Cherries finished a comfortable six points ahead of third-place Huddersfield Town, who were defeated by Nottingham Forest in the play-off final.
Bournemouth had a strong start last season, and thanks to a 15-game unbeaten run, sat atop the table from GW-7 to GW-17 except for a single game-week. They suffered a drop in form around the festive period, falling to third before recovering to spend most of the rest of the season in second.
The Cherries boasted the stingiest defense in the league, and goalkeeper Mark Travers had a great season, winning the Championship Golden Gloves award with 20 clean sheets. At the other end of the field, striker Dominic Solanke, who has previous Premier League experience with Liverpool, scored an impressive 29 goals, second only to Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrović’s record-setting 43.
Style of Play
Head coach Scott Parker is well-known for his days as a tough-tackling midfielder for Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham, Tottenham and Fulham. He also represented England as an international, having featured at the 2012 Euros. After his playing career ended, Parker went on to manage Fulham, assuming a caretaker role in February of 2019 with the team in 19th place in the Premier League. He was unable to save the Cottagers from relegation that season, but he was appointed permanent manager and guided the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The following season found Fulham struggling once again though, the team failing to win a game until November. They were officially relegated in May 2021, and Parker left the club by mutual consent the following month. On the same day his departure was announced, he was hired by Bournemouth on a three-year contract.
Bournemouth’s 20 clean sheets and league-fewest goals conceded last season are evidence that Parker sets up his Cherry side with defensive safety in mind, which will be key to their chances for survival in the Premier League. Parker commonly lines up in a 4-2-3-1 formation for stability, with a midfield double-pivot, full-backs who push out wide as outlets, and Solanke leading through the middle. Alternatively, he sometimes also utilizes a 4-3-3 with Solanke flanked by two forwards.
So far Bournemouth’s only summer signings have been fullback Ryan Fredericks (see Spotlight here) from West Ham and midfielder Joe Rothwell from Championship side Blackburn Rovers. Experienced players Robbie Brady and Gary Cahill have departed after being with the club last season.
Scott Parker has recently said he’s frustrated by the club’s apparent lack of ambition in the transfer market (Fredericks and Rothwell were both free transfers), and he hopes the club brings in further players to help bolster their survival campaign.
Best Fantasy Assets
It’s always risky to back newly-promoted players due to the step-up in quality that the Premier League demands, so I’ll just point out the best picks from among Bournemouth’s squad. These are not necessarily endorsements.
That said, Dominic Solanke (£6.0) is likely to have some suitors as a budget forward pick. He has past experience in the top flight, and last season’s impressive performance suggests that he has now added consistency to his game.
Elsewhere, midfielder Philip Billing (£5.5) offers a cut-rate midfield who played in the Prem in the Cherries’ relegation season. He had strong numbers last season, with double digits for both goals and assists (10 and 11, respectively). He sometimes lines up a forward, making him a potential out-of-position prospect in FPL. In Fantrax, he was adept at racking up phantoms back in 2019-20.
Winger Jaidon Anthony (£5.5) also performed well last season (8 goals, 7 assists) and is another one to watch.
Left back Jordan Zemura (£4.5) is probably the way to go if you want a route into the Cherry defense. The most attack-oriented player in Parker’s back four, he offers the potential for returns at the far end of the pitch, which can cushion the blow on occasions when the Cherries concede.
See our Spotlight article on Nottingham Forest here.
See our Spotlight article on Fulham here.
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