Match Preview: AFC Bournemouth Vs Walsall
We travel down to the south coast tomorrow looking for victory over an established Bournemouth team. Last Saturday was hugely disappointing and we will be looking to bounce back against the Cherries. On the plus side, last weekend did see Jon Macken get off the mark in fine style and when Macken starts firing on all cylinders, there are few defenders in the league that can contain him.
Bournemouth had a superb season last year and it is a credit to the team that they can lose their manager and 3 star strikers and still be a force to be reckoned with. They have this incredibly annoying knack of being able to replace star after star with young unknowns who just happen to be among the best players in any academy in the country. When Brett Pitman left, Josh McQuoid stepped up to the plate. When Josh McQuoid left, Danny Ings showed just how little McQuoid would be missed. Danny Ings has now left but that has not impacted on Bournemouth`s prowess going forward. Young Harry Arter has already scored three this season from midfield and there seems to be no way of stopping Bournemouth`s conveyor belt of talent from producing. They have only failed to score once this season, away at high-flying Charlton, and they are definitely a side we should be wary of. They have had their problems and lost 4 of their 6 games this season but that is not to be misconstrued as weakness. We will have to cut out the defensive errors that marred the game against Yeovil and do our best to contain their endless array of threats all over the pitch. Aside from the young lads, Lee Bradbury has a wealth of experience to call upon and players like Adam Barrett, Steve Lovell and Darryl Flahavan are going to be crucial to the Cherries success this season. They finished last season in a credible 6th place and I would not be surprised if they were in amongst the play-off places again come May next year.
As for ourselves, we go into the game with a full complement of players for the first time since Adam Chambers` straight red card against Middlesbrough. Deano is faced with a real selection problem as, for me, Anton Peterlin has really stepped up and commanded Dean Smith`s attention and I really can`t see how our Ginger Mourinho can drop him. However, Adam Chambers is far, far too good at this level to be wasting away on the bench and let`s face it, he can`t drop Taundry. So what`s the solution? Smith prides himself on picking players based on form rather than reputation but can he stay true to that with our influential midfielder. He was by far the best player on the pitch against Orient and whether Peterlin has done enough to merit keeping one of the best players in the league on the bench remains to be seen. I would like to see Anton and Taundry keep their impressive partnership going in the middle and I think that, with Smith at the helm, they have a realistic chance of doing so. He may even opt to play all 3 and change his formation or drop Westlake in favour of Taunds at right-back, it all remains to be seen. Whatever happens, Smith will put out the side he thinks can beat a strong Bournemouth team and with a full squad to pick from I can see it being a very tight game.
My prediction is a close 1-1 draw and the long awaited (2 and a half week) return of the king. I`ve not got my goal-scorers right yet but I`ll say Macken to get ours and maybe Liam Feeney to score for the home side. He has looked dangerous every time I`ve seen him and he is just the type of player who seems to excel against our beloved Saddlers. Long live Adam Chambers and let`s hope for an entertaining game between two very similar teams. Come on you Saddlers!!!