Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur Preview: why the Cherries must attack Spurs

Charlie Daniels –

If Bournemouth’s 1-1 draw at Leicester last week proved anything, it is that they are at their most productive when they are on the offensive.

The Cherries enjoyed a positive first hour, during which Charlie Daniels made several intelligent forward runs from left-back to link up with forwards Callum Wilson and Josh King. The latter won and converted the first half penalty and could have had another chance to score from the spot, had a foul on Daniels been given early in the second half.

Thereon though, Eddie Howe made just one change before the 90th minute. A lot of fans were hoping for Wilson to be replaced by fellow forward Lys Mousset, who can re-energize performances from the bench, as we have seen in recent weeks.

Mousset didn’t enter the fray until injury-time though, with Wilson instead making way for holding midfielder Andrew Surman. That switch had the impact of situating Bournemouth deeper and with excessive numbers of players in their penalty area, the phrase ‘too many Cooks’ carried extra pertinence.

While Lewis Cook was no longer able to spray accurate passes into forward areas, namesake Steve gave away the foul that led to Riyad Mahrez’s 96th-minute equalizing free-kick.

The south-coast hosts can ill-afford to give away cheap free-kicks against Tottenham, who have scored 11 Premier League goals from set pieces this term, six of which netted by Harry Kane.

The 24-year-old already has 24 domestic strikes to his name, but he assumed the role of provider in last week’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield. After Heung-Min Son had rounded the goalkeeper to slot home the first half opener, the South Korean deftly headed home Kane’s superbly weighted cross from deep to clinch victory shortly after the break.

That goal though promptly succeeded a momentary lapse in concentration: centre-backs Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen were caught too high up while left-back Ben Davies failed to track Tom Ince’s run in from the right flank. That particular incident went unpunished – Hugo Lloris parried the ball away – but it at least hints at potential vulnerabilities.

They were exploited with more gusto in the midweek Champions League clash by Juventus, who flipped the narrative on Spurs inside three second half minutes. After an hour, Mauricio Pochettino’s side led 1-0 and was set for not only progression to the quarter-finals, but praise for their energy and intensity.

A lack of organization at key moments however, cost the Londoners, who now face questions about whether they have the knowhow to compete with the elite. They had no men either guarding the back-post or marking legendary goalscorer Gonzalo Higuain, who predictably bagged the equalizer.

At that point, a 1-1 draw would have been enough to send Tottenham through on away goals, yet they still saw fit to operate with a high-line: Paulo Dybala thus capitalized on more questionable defending from Kieran Trippier, condemning them to a 2-1 defeat.

While Spurs are rightly being praised for the impressive quality of their attacking play, there remains defensive imperfections that Bournemouth must attempt to expose.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 2-2