Free-scoring AFC Bournemouth have made a strong return to the Championship this season. But do they have the strength needed in defence to make a challenge for promotion?
A single football match is won by goals. But a good defence can be the difference between a decent team and a trophy-winning side.
Bournemouth are currently in a comfortable position in the EFL Championship as they sit in second place. Just one point away from league leaders Norwich.
Jason Tindall’s men have successfully turned the Vitality Stadium into an entertaining stage for their supporters watching games from home during lockdown.
They have scored an impressive 25 goals in their first 15 games, continuing their well known attacking style of play.
The loss of former star striker Callum Wilson in the transfer window may not have affected the sides form in front of goal. However, the team’s defence strategies could be their biggest potential weakness this season.
Within those first 15 games, the Cherries have conceded goals in eleven. A worrying sign for a team looking to return to the top flight of English football.
If Tindall’s men are to be considered as serious contenders for promotion, fixing these problems is essential for the club’s future success.
THE STATS SHOW A WEAK DEFENCE
A big part of Bournemouth’s high goal concession is down to their inability to clear danger in crucial areas. Out of the 16 goals they have conceded this season, 13 have been from inside their own 18 yard box.
Giving the opposition the chance to shoot from close range has been a recurring flaw. If it weren’t for their consistent finishing in front of goal, Bournemouth may have been in a worrying league position.
Individual player defensive performances are also troubling. Full-back Diego Rico holds the highest average of just 2.2 tackles per game in the squad. A surprisingly low amount for a team intent on pushing for promotion.
This is even more alarming as Rico is just one yellow card away from a one-match suspension, receiving four in his 13 appearances.
Alongside their low tackling statistics, Bournemouth have struggled to maintain a clean sheet in their away fixtures this season. They have conceded eight goals in as many games, as they look for the right defensive solution.
With Tindall’s constant changes to the defensive formations, the issues may be down to the individual players, rather than strategic ideas.
But as captain Steve Cook returned to the side for their 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, following his three-game suspension, the Cherries may have a chance to turn their defensive issues around.
HIGH GOAL-SCORING FIXTURES
Bournemouth’s opponents have also struggled for clean sheets. Despite their leaky defence, the Cherries have the ninth-best defence in the 24-team league.
Bournemouth have been able to pick up an average of 2.2 points per home league game. This is a strong statistic, and if continued, could see them earn a promotion worthy level of points.
They have also seen 2.17 goals scored on average per game. An exciting stat for the exciting games the supporters have been able to watch at home.Bournemouth’s control of the ball has also been an impressive element of their performances this season. Their ability to control games and accurately distribute the ball has been a key factor in their success going forward.
With Cook returning and the impressive performances from England Under-21s defender Lloyd Kelly after returning from injury, there are promising signs for Bournemouth’s defence.
As the season continues and the championship table begins to take shape, it will be interesting to see if Bournemouth will improve their defensive performances.