THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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Despite positive-looking summer recruitment Eddie Howe’s team have had a disappointing start to their Premier League campaign, with two defeats in two

25 August ~ Zero points from the first two matches of this Premier League season is not the return that Bournemouth fans were expecting – and with Manchester City up next not many are hopeful of the team collecting any at all before September.

Last season’s ninth-place finish and a good transfer window had raised expectations – Nathan Ake was impressive in central defence on loan from Chelsea last year so his purchase at £20 million was pricey but essential business, Asmir Begovic is considered an upgrade in goal to the erratic Artur Boruc and club favourite Jermain Defoe was welcomed back with excitement.

The insipid displays against West Brom and Watford have dampened that somewhat – manager Eddie Howe’s baffled and downbeat response after the 2-0 reverse at home against the Hornets mirroring what the fans feel.

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Despite the defence being considered a weak link (with the fifth-worst goals against tally in the division last season) it’s been the performance further up the pitch that has been the real concern. Possibly the mixed results from earlier transfer windows since promotion are now being felt.

Alan Shearer’s ill-informed slating on Match of the Day notwithstanding, Jack Wilshere was a classy addition to the midfield and provided competition to the settled Harry Arter-Drew Surman duopoly. Expect to see England Under-20 World Cup-winning captain Lewis Cook more involved in the coming weeks.

Few have been impressed so far with £15m winger Jordon Ibe and the more Benik Afobe toils away up front the less he convinces as a front man in Howe’s elaborate gameplan. If Josh King cannot repeat his 16 Premier League goals it will be imperative to get Defoe on the pitch and more involved than the three touches he managed in his 30 minute cameo from the bench against Watford.

A much-changed XI turned a half-time deficit into a 2-1 victory over Birmingham in the League Cup on Tuesday with French attacker Lys Mousset to the fore – another signing from last season yet to justify many minutes in the Premier League but likely to be in the shake-up for the 12.30pm kick-off against Manchester City on Saturday.

In the four matches played between the two sides since promotion to the top flight the Cherries are at the wrong end of a 15-1 aggregate score so the most the Dean Court faithful are realistically hoping for is that the midweek cup win and a few new faces will spur an attacking performance to enlighten the manager and raise the spirits – even if we end August still on zero points. Simon Melville

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