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Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth have had a brilliant first season in the Premier League and have all but secured their survival with 38 points and eight games to go.
They came up as a side with a reputation for an attacking passing game and they have stayed true to their laurels but many expected their defensive frailties to be badly exposed at the highest level.
That has rarely happened though and to that end their defenders deserve great credit and can be rightly proud of how they have performed this year.
One stand-out performer has been left-back Charlie Daniels. Having spent most of his career below even the Championship after failing to make the grade at Tottenham as a youngster, the 29 year old has really grabbed his opportunity to play in the top flight with open arms.
Like many players in this side, it is a chance he may have thought he’d never get but a series of fine displays down the left have shown he has more than enough ability to play at this level.
He is an attacking full-back and has chipped in with 3 goals and 5 assists and has started 29 of Bournemouth’s 30 games. On the other flank has been Adam Smith, who also started out at White Hart Lane but like so many others has found his feet under Eddie Howe, who has cemented his reputation as perhaps England’s brightest young manager.
Smith is of a similar ilk to Daniels in that he likes to get forward and has also chipped in with a couple of goals whilst fulfilling his defensive duties better than might have been expected.
In the heart of the defence, Simon Francis has been a rock solid ever-present with an eye for a well-timed challenge whilst also been comfortable on the ball, which is very much the Bournemouth way.
Alongside him Steve Cook, struggled a little at first but has really come on with man of the match displays in three of Bournemouth’s last four games as they’ve added 10 points to their tally to allow them the luxury of a huge cushion on the bottom three.
A team effort
Off the pitch, the wealth of Premier League experience that Sylvain Distin boasts has most likely been a very useful asset in helping his younger team-mates adapt to the top flight and Bournemouth’s likely survival has been very much a team effort and nobody can argue that their unsung defensive heroes don’t deserve another season in the top flight.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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