It must be said that Bournemouth have not experienced the best away days of late. In fact, defeat has come after defeat, ten in succession, but this was a victory of style as well as substance and that was just as pleasing as the three points for the travelling Cherries.
Bournemouth move on from this two-goal win away at Huddersfield with more matches against sides from the bottom seven – five of their next six fixtures are such.
Yet this was a significant step closer to survival for the south coast side and with a run of games against teams fighting against relegation, there is a sense that Bournemouth can secure their top-flight status sooner rather than later provided they show the same quality as they did here.
Eddie Howe was eager to highlight how impressive this performance was from his players; especially in the light of the struggles away from home and the injuries which they have had to deal with. It was a complete performance according to the Bournemouth head coach: “We were clinical in attack, good in forward areas, solid in defence, so it was a good day.”
Wilson scored and assisted in his comeback
There was no doubt that Callum Wilson was the star of the match and his return to the team was perfect timing for Gareth Southgate who was watching on from the stands ahead of picking his latest England squad in the coming week.
“He’s a great player for us, he has unique attributes,” Howe said. “The ability to run in behind, the work ethic off the ball and, of course, he knows where the goal is. It was great to see him score.” His was just one display which showcased the quality that Bournemouth have and Huddersfield can only wish they had.
“His assist for Ryan [Fraser] was also hugely impressive, especially with the game still in the balance, that really sealed the win for us,” Howe told us. His overall contribution was off a very good level for a player who was making his first start since mid-January and, to the surprise of many, he lasted the entire match.
No change of approach just improved performance
Watching on, it was difficult to see how Bournemouth have struggled so profusely of late. Albeit they faced rather insipid hosts, who were capable of forming neat play and moved the ball with accuracy and control but lacked creativity in the final third, it was telling of how mature Bournemouth’s performance was.
Defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool in recent weeks were far from unexpected and by no means disastrous but there was a sense that they had slightly lost their way. Here, though, Howe saw more of the typical Bournemouth that we have become accustomed to.
“We weren’t doing anything different tactically, we just performed well from a defensive perspective,” Howe said.
“I thought young Chris Mepham was very good at the heart of our defence especially considering he has only just joined us. He’s so young yet was so impressive, as were all of the back four. Given we had to make the change with Smith’s injury, the clean sheet was important. It will be a confidence lift for the players.”
Team goal showed Bournemouth’s quality
It was the first goal, featuring 21 touches and easy-on-the-eye build-up play, that typified the Bournemouth that have become much-loved since joining the Premier League four seasons ago.
“The first goal we got the ball quite deep, produced a nice passage of play, quick changes of passes and then the quality in the final third from Ryan and Callum was excellent to see, “ Howe reminisced with a smile.
“That’s the kind of goal we were scoring on a regular basis early on in the season, the teams been hit with injuries and we’ve missed that fluency of late but it’s great to see it back today.”
Howe is the perfect fit for Bournemouth and he is constantly praised around the town. There is a balance to the side that strikes of a well-run club with a long-term vision and capable at both planning and acting with instinct. Aided by Jason Tindall on the touchline in his role as assistant head coach and former midfielder Richard Hughes showing expertise upstairs in recruitment, Howe seemingly has an ideal team around him.
“Do you think you’ll have a reserved seat at the council meetings?” asked one reporter following Howe’s appointment as an honorary freeman of Bournemouth. “No disrespect, but I think I’ve got better things to do with my time,” Howe replied with a grin. “But we’ll wait and see.”