The Opposition View: AFC Bournemouth

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 29 January 2016

How are you finding your first season in the Premier League? Do you think you'll survive?

It's great fun, and we're at least competitive in pretty much every game. The league is very strange and seems to have evened up a great deal in recent years as there aren't many sides that are far and away better than anyone else.

Survival is probably 50/50 right now. We've managed to keep above the relegation places pretty much all season to date but it has always been by a small margin. Obviously I'd back us to continue that

What do Bournemouth fans think of Sylvain Distin and what chance does he have of playing on Saturday?

A poor signing. One of our highest earners by reports, yet he cannot keep up with the pace of play and is often caught out of position. It's no coincidence that our worst period of form all season included him at the back. He's not going to get many start many league games any more, the cups are his best chance of playing. So yes, you'll probably see him at some point on Saturday.

Speaking of former Pompey players, Matt Ritchie hasn't done too badly for himself since leaving Portsmouth, has he?

Ritchie has been absolutely pivotal to our success and promotions from League One and the Championship. A bargain buy from Swindon at £400,000 - some of the best business this club will ever do. As an attacking midfielder he's got everything and can play anywhere. All the technique with both feet but also the work rate and energy to get around the pitch.

Teams now double-mark Ritchie because of the reputation he's earned himself, and he's become a victim of his own hard work and success this season. But whilst he may not get the headlines at the highest level, he does a valuable job for the team and still pops up with the odd world class goal.

On to current Portsmouth players who used to play for the Cherries. What's your view on Matt Tubbs?

Tubbs is an enigma. Came through the ranks here and always looked promising, but never seemed to fulfil that. Got released into the non-league and scores goals for fun at Salisbury, got re-signed and again does nothing here and is released. Resumes scoring goals for fun at Crawley, gets re-signed again this time for a few hundred thousand, a hefty fee at the time yet still struggles to make an impact.

It just wasn't meant to be for Matt here, but he's clearly a talented goal scorer. If we give him a sniff of goal in the penalty area on Saturday I'm sure he'll do the job against us.

Jayden Stockley received mixed-to-positive reviews during his time at Fratton Park. Do you think he'll ever become a regular for Bournemouth?

Jadyen, like a number of youth products who came through a few years ago, has been unfortunate with our success. He hit the headlines making his debut aged 15 when we were desperate for players, and at any other time, in our historical League One home, Jayden would have gone on to stay around the first team and clock up a fair number of appearances.

He's never going to make it for us now, and four years of constant loan spells can't be good for his development either. He needs to find a permanent home, probably in League Two or maybe a good Conference side, where he can settle down and have a side built around him, rather than be parachuted into sides short term.

What was your reaction to this tie when it was drawn and how seriously do you think Eddie Howe will be taking it?

I certainly preferred the idea of traveling to Pompey than Ipswich!

Like all cup ties in the last couple of years, we'll be making wholesale changes. Eddie's idea since we've been able to afford it, is to have around 20 players of a similar level, without too big a difference between the first 11 and second. As opposed to a first 11 with a few outstanding stars and a large gulf from them to the backups. The idea is that the first 11 is constantly pushed, and that backup 11 will be in action against Pompey, trying to earn Premier League appearances.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of this current Bournemouth side and who are the key men?

A quick look at the goals for and against tallies will tell you that we are stronger in attack and weaker in defence. That's true of our league 11 and it's also true of the cup 11, not least because the cup 11 will likely have three youth youngsters in the back four. However, in attack we're likely to field Glen Murray as a very experienced and cunning centre forward, supplied by Jaun Iturbe our exciting Argentine loan from Roma who needs some time to settle in.

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park on Saturday?

Both teams to score is more often than not a reasonable bet when Bournemouth are involved.

If our earlier round at Birmingham is anything to go by, our cup 11 looks a little disjointed especially in the earlier stages of the game. A Howe side will always try to control possession and dictate play, but if Pompey can press us hard, get in our faces and break quickly then they will get some joy. If we struggle with possession, as happened at Birmingham for periods, then our pace will give us the option to go long over the top and chase as an alternative.

Predict the outcome of the game. Given the gulf between the two sides, you must be confident, right?

With us making 10-11 changes and probably looking a bit disjointed, if Pompey put out a strong side that plays together every week then it won’t be easy for us. However, if Pompey also make changes then they'll lose that advantage so it depends how seriously you lot take it!

We'd like to think our strong attack will cause problems, but will the young defence (with carthorse Distin at some point) also be up to the task? I'd go for another 2-1 win.

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