Substitute Jordan Ibe inspired Bournemouth to take their first three points of the season on Friday night. The head of Solly March allowed them to take on Brighton, but goals from Andrew Surman and Jermain Defoe allowed Eddie Howe’s team to win 2-1. Here are five important discussion points.
The last third of the cherry action
Bournemouth entered good areas several times in the first half with Surman dictating the game. However, Harry Arter and the broad men on either side of him were guilty of trying to be too accurate in possession. Marc Pugh relied on Charlie Daniels’ overlapping races and did not have the pace to quickly get to the limit when opportunities arose. Ryan Fraser and Adam Smith had rhythm about them but little product, not helped by the lack of movement from Defoe and Josh King.
King clung to a sloppy free-kick from Shane Duffy, but his center partner Lewis Dunk freed him with a nice defensive block in 17 minutes. The captain then held Defoe at bay with a similar intervention for almost half an hour, moments before the striking veteran threw the ball at the far post.
Brilliant start of the second half
In the first half we saw the best of Bournemouth’s back row, who excellently moved the ball quickly to keep up the pressure. As soon as Brighton showed any intention in the second period, they immediately seemed shaken. Simon Francis lost his man on two corners, which led to interventions on the goal line by Andrew Surman. He first directed Duffy’s air pressure off the line before doing the same with Davy Propper’s shot. Duffy browbeat again, his head was thrown by the excellent Dale Stephens and hit the bottom of the pole. When Albion made the breakthrough-March scored a withdrawn head after a good work of Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross – they seemed to be very useful for their lead.
Ibe-lieve in the wonders
Howe did not change his team’s tactical approach, but replaced Fraser with Ibe,in a similar exchange. Ibe had already been criticised for its lack of finished products, but here it offered the kind of exceptional quality that Fraser lacked. A wonderful improvised film freed Surman, who showed a decent performance before passing the ball to Maty Ryan. Shortly after, Ibe made an excellent back pass to find Defoe, which ended with the timeless sharpness we had come to expect from him over the past two decades.
It wasn’t a poor performance from Brighton, who looked organised for extended periods, but Chris Hughton could ask his team to create more in the open game. For Bournemouth, IBE recalled what they had to do in the final third to improve on their meagre goal return. Short passes do not always work, as was seen in the first half : often it is risky balls that unlock the defense.