AFC Bournemouth 2017/18 Season Preview: Cherries looking to continue good work in the coming season

AFC Bournemouth go into the new 2017/18 Premier League season full of hope and positivity. Eddie Howe's side finished 9th in the league last season, which was a historic achievement for them.

Building on the previous year's good work, the Cherries will be full of hope that the upcoming season will be an exciting one for the fans, as well as the players.

Achieving 9th position was no easy task

For Bournemouth, ending the campaign in 9th place wasn't an easy task by any measure. The Cherries were languishing towards the wrong side of the mid-table before they started picking up form along with results in March, April and May which ultimately saved their season.

Howe's philosophy of playing high-pressing football and an attractive style of play made the Cherries one of the few entertaining teams to watch, outside of the top six.

It is exactly that philosophy which Howe will hope to re-ignite in the players once again as the 2017/17 season approaches and Bournemouth fans will be hoping that the club can keep the good work going and maybe go even higher than last season's 9th place finish.

Near perfect pre-season for Cherries

Pre-season is a period of experimentation for managers and players alike.It is a time for them to test new tactics and see what best fits their team.For Howe and his staff, it was about improving their formula for success, the classic 4-4-2.

The summer began with a victory against Estoril Praia in Spain thanks to goals from Max Gradel and Jordon Ibe. In the following two weeks, the Cherries played against Portsmouth and Queens Park Rangers, emerging as victors in both games. 

The first of their two home ties against European clubs was against Valencia CF, which they lost 1-0. The confidence boosting 3-1 victory away at Yeovil Town was followed by an encouraging 2-2 draw against Serie A giants, Napoli.

Heading into the opening fixture against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, Bournemouth are in a good run of form to open their campaign on a good note.

Former Cherries return to the Vitality

The highlight of Bournemouth's summer transfer activity was the capture of former attacker Jermain Defoe. Defoe spent an early part of his career on loan with the Cherries and his return to the squad is a timely boost for Joshua King.

Back in defence, Howe signed Asmir Begovic and Nathan Akè on permanent deals, from Chelsea, to bolster a defence that conceded far too many goals, 67 to be precise. One of their primary concerns last season was the sheer number of goals they conceded, this is something that has been addressed, with the additions of Begovic and Akè, the latter being one of Bournemouth's best performers during his time on loan with the club.

The addition of former Blackburn Rovers winger Connor Mahoney is certainly going to add some depth to the squad. It will also add to the competition for places within the squad.

Cherries strengths and weaknesses

It is clear to any football fan that the Cherries' biggest strength is their style of play. Howe has instilled a philosophy of playing good football into his players. Giving the fans football that's worth watching is a top priority for the manager as well as the players.

One of their few weaknesses is their defending and last season, their defence away from home was just not good enough.A poor defence led to the Cherries winning just three games away from home and drawing six while losing ten. In contrast, they lost just six games at home, won nine and drew four, which shows how solid they were at the Vitality.

Another aspect of Bournemouth's play is the amount of hard work each player puts in for every game. Bournemouth players were recorded to have covered more distance per game than any other club, which tells you just hard they are working under Howe to keep improving.

What would be a success for Howe's men this season?

Given the massive spending of clubs in and around them, there is no doubt that the 2017/18 campaign will be one full of challenges for the players as well as Howe.

In their first season back in the top flight, the Cherries finished 15th on the table and in the second season, they improved and reached 9th. The expectation from this kind of growth is that the club would want to target Europe, however, given the club's size and lack of funds, it would seem unlikely that they'll go higher than 9th.

For this season, a finish in the top 10 would be considered as a great sign of success and a figure of consistency from the Cherries as well.

Players to look out for this season

Although the club's successes can be pointed out to a strong team ethic in the group, Bournemouth will have a few key players who will be the ones to look out for in the coming campaign.

Josh King - last season's top scorer with 16 goals, the Norwegian international was voted the club's player of the season for his excellent performances. Having shrugged off interest from the likes of Tottenham and West Ham United in the summer, it is likely that King will have another productive season in the 2017/18 campaign.

Jermain Defoe- Now entering the twilight of his career, Defoe has looked to be in the form of his life in recent years, helping Sunderland stay afloat in the top flight and after their relegation, he decided to return to Bournemouth. It'll be interesting to see whether he starts week in week out or will he be a mentor to the likes of Calum Wilson and Benik Afobe. A duo of Defoe and King up top will certainly cause the top sides a lot of problems.

Nathan Akè- The versatile Dutchman has made a permanent return to the Vitality and will be expected to be a fixture in Howe's starting XI for the upcoming campaign. His solid performances at the back and a few goal-scoring contributions made him a fan favourite last season when he was on loan. Given that he will now have a full Premier League campaign to play out, fans will get to see just what the defender is all about.