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Review of the game from a Bournemouth perspective.....
I love the comment about our defence......

The new dawn......the optimism.........the talk of Europe heading our way....the same dogged West Brom. Passports back in the drawer for the time being and a bruised, sterilized team head back to Bournemouth to 'reflect' in Eddie's carefully chosen word and to lick their wounds and prepare for Watford, whose defence it would appear, is more charitable.

West Brom's defence remain as charitable as Donald Trump to a North Korean trans-gender soldier with a Mexican boyfriend. Bournemouth's display described as 'palid' by 5Live was perplexing to say the least. Gone the confidence, zip and verve that characterised last seasons late push to 9th, replaced by something that looked like a slow-mo replay of a bad Arsenal move. Still - as all defeated teams will be saying tonight - ridiculously early days!

Eddie had arguably his biggest ever challenge to pick a team and plumped to counter the Baggies with height. Smith and Defoe were predicted starters but didn't with Franno at right back and Afobe up front. Ake and Begovic made starting second debuts.

The game was tedious for a premier league encounter. Anyone in China tuning in after watching the Arsenal game last night or the Liverpool game at lunch would have been checking their remote to make sure they hadn't accessed League Two. Bournemouth knocking it around the back with gay abandon before launching it at Afobe who didn't win much. West Brom just launching it without gayness or abandon. Plenty of rough tackles and lots of misplaced passing.

All the good chances fell the home side's way with Begovic saving smartly at his near post from Rodriguez twice and a sea of crosses, particularly from the lively Phillips, causing alarm in the Bournemouth box. At the other end - nothing really as Bournemouth frustratingly turned backwards with every move, the forwards and wingers bizarrely lining up facing their own midfield rather than running away from them. The very few times we passed our way into West Broms final third we opted for a high cross (twice to Fraser) with predictable results.

One effort from Bournemouth - a dollied curling shot from Surman that Foster watched with a smile.

Set pieces are always our undoing at West Brom (and other places to be fair) and it was with predictable dismay that we watched debutant centre half Hegazi run unchallenged past five Bournemouth defenders to head home at the far post.

Two other sitters were missed at set pieces, Rodriguez and Mcclean the culprits as Bournemouth's marking failed with alarming regularity. The team looked relieved to hear the whistle.

HT Baggies 1 Bournemouth 0

Eddie brought on Ibe for the uncharacteristically out of sorts Pugh at half time and he had a lively forty five minutes in comparison to his team mates. West Brom had settled into the task though and were rarely venturing forwards. Bournemouth had a lot of space but against a team sat so deep King is often flummoxed and Afobe lacks the pace to stretch. The fullbacks were not overlapping and like a bizarre attack v defence training exercise the defence was well on top.

Jermaine Defoe arrived but it really wasn't the game for him either and with Franno limping off and Smith appearing the subs were done. Ibe buzzed and crossed more than normal but a home leg was there to launch the ball down the park.

Two chances came and went. Ake heading at Foster and Fraser curling a tame effort towards the far post which Foster caught. It could have been worse as Rondon broke but Begovic again saved well at full stretch.

FT Baggies 1 Bournemouth 0

Begovic 6 - Some questioned his involvement in goal. Two good saves.

Francis 4 - Really rusty showing on return to a flank. Stayed deep.
Cook 6 - Solid enough and good on ground.
Ake 7 - Very composed, some great blocks and last ditch tackles.
Daniels 5 - Strangely deep again and less involved than normal.

Fraser 5 - Not really a game for 'wee man' - out muscled.
Arter 5 - A lot of possession but not much invention.
Surman 5 - Sideways, backwards, sideways, backwards....
Pugh 4 - A real off day - looked knackered. Nyom all over him.
(Ibe 6 - Livlier cameo but needs end product)

King 5 - Largely anonymous and again uncharacteristically deep.
Afobe 5 - Battled manfully but did best work going backwards.
Star Player
MOM - Ake looked the pick of an average bunch today. Speed, awareness and composed on the ball. Great to have him permanently
It is way too early to jump to too many conclusions so some plusses, minuses and a couple of talking points from me:

Plusses - We were always in the game, possession strong, Ake looked like he had never been away - 1-0 away defeat in the Prem is not slitting wrists time.

Minuses - All summer on the training ground and we can't either take or defend a set piece. We were lucky today as better finishing would have seen three goals from set pieces. Zip and energy completely missing and we still have not overcome our ability to unlock deep defences. Full backs not providing width - although this had to be deliberate as they both stuck to it rigidly.

Talking points:
1) When you look at the openings of our last three seasons compared to what we are like when the season gets going is it a mistake never to play the first team together in friendlies? They looked so disjointed and laboured and it was so reminiscent of West Ham away last year, Man U at home, Villa at home etc etc.

2) Can Surman do it in a two man midfield. Last season he did ok as a screen in a three man one with Wilshere free. When we returned to a two he looked less effective and we perked up when he got injured and Gosling and Cook replaced him in turn.

3) Do we sometimes pick personnel above the best team. Smith got shunted out last time Ake was here and Francis has not got his legs at right back. Is it odd that the skipper and the vice skipper (Surman) both started ahead of arguably better options?

Still - that games gone for another year! Always best to play West Brom once they are past 40 points in March! We will face tasks that we are much better at dealing with in the next seven weeks and it's a long old stretch to come. More to ponder tonight though than I thought there was going to be.
Ibe looked extremely lively when he came on, especially up against Brunt who we all know can be got at, really surprised Howe didn't start with him

With Dawson and the Beast at CB, this was a game crying out for Defoe or Ibe to get behind our slow defence, I was pleased to see them both on the bench, disappointed with Fraser who I thought was excellent against us last season
Thought Ake looked a really good playet
Hadnt been for Ake we'd have won by more , he's a great prospect.

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