16 days to Premier League season: Bournemouth well placed to avoid ‘second season syndrome’
The National’s sports team is counting down the days until defending champions Leicester City take on newly promoted Hull City in the opening fixture of the 2016/17 English Premier League season by looking at one team a day. Today, Bournemouth.
One of last season’s feel-good stories emerged from England’s south coast as the smallest club in the league, expected by many to battle relegation all season, comfortably secured their top-flight status, and did so playing attacking, expansive football.
Yes, they did suffer a poor run of form in the latter stages of the campaign, but they can be forgiven a late season lapse. The job for Bournemouth and manager Eddie Howe is to build on that impressive debut season.
There is certainly no lack of ambition at the club, and £15 million (Dh72.3m) has already been spent on exciting winger Jordan Ibe from Liverpool. Highly rated midfielder Lewis Cook has also been signed from Leeds United, as has young French forward Lys Mousset from Le Havre, so the club are wasting little time in bolstering their squad with promising youth.
Big money was spent in January on striker Benik Afobe, and after an encouraging start at the club, he will be expected to fire the goals for Bournemouth this season. The Premier League is a tough place but Bournemouth seem to be doing all they can to solidify their status.
Pessimists may predict Bournemouth to suffer from second season syndrome, and given the fierce competitiveness of the Premier League, it is certainly possible, particularly if injuries are sustained by key players.
Yet, there is an air of optimism around the club, and as long as Howe guides them through the inevitable rough patch suffered by most bottom-half clubs during the course of a season, they should be fine.
• Hull City: Promoted club had unstable summer
• Middlesbrough: Hopes lie largely in Spaniards
• Burnley: Third time the charm?
• Sunderland: Moyes the make or break factor in survival hopes
Still to come
• Tomorrow: Crystal Palace
• Saturday: West Bromwich Albion
• Sunday: Watford
• Monday: Swansea City
• Tuesday, Aug 2: Everton
• Wednesday, Aug 3: Chelsea
• Thursday, Aug 4: Stoke City
• Friday, Aug 5: Liverpool
• Saturday, Aug 6: West Ham United
• Sunday, Aug 7: Southampton
• Monday, Aug 8: Manchester United
• Tuesday, Aug 9: Manchester City
• Wednesday, Aug 10: Tottenham
• Thursday, Aug 11: Arsenal
• Friday, Aug 12: Leicester City
• Saturday, Aug 13: Premier League season begins
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Published: July 28, 2016 04:00 AM