Fantasy Premier League managers disappointed by Liverpool assets in recent weeks should be encouraged by the way Bournemouth played at Cardiff in Gameweek 25.
The Cherries followed up their headline-grabbing 4-0 win over Chelsea with a poor performance at the Cardiff City Stadium.
However, it was the perfect result for the Bluebirds given recent events concerning Emiliano Sala.
The budget options making a name for themselves, as well as Bournemouth’s shortcomings, are the focus of this latest Scout Notes article.
Cardiff 2-0 Bournemouth
Goals: Bobby Reid x2 (£5.2m)
Assists: Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m)
Oumar Niasse (£5.0m) and Bobby Reid (£5.2m) were the stars of the show as Cardiff earned an emotional victory over Bournemouth on Saturday evening. It was the first match played at the Cardiff City Stadium since the disappearance of Emiliano Sala and the occasion seemed to bring out the best in the Bluebirds’ players. It was a thoroughly deserved victory for the Welsh side, who made the most of their possession, registered more shots in the box and efforts on target than the Cherries and outscored them for expected goals (xG) too (2.07 to 0.51).
The Cardiff City Stadium is starting to become a key location for the Bluebirds’ survival hopes. Of their last eight matches in front of their own supporters, the only teams to have beaten them are Spurs and Man United, with the other six games, all against opponents outside the top six, handing them five wins and one draw. In those non-top six encounters, Cardiff
Reid took the headlines with his brace, as he continues in his efforts to hold down a place in the Cardiff first team, dropping into a number 10 role of late. This was his third start in five matches, but his second in a row. After his excellent performance against Bournemouth, it would be hard for manager Neil Warnock to bench him for the Gameweek 26 trip to Southampton. The local press
Despite Reid’s goals, it was Niasse who earned the most praise from Warnock and the local press at full-time. He led the line for the third match in a row since signing on loan from Everton, his runs into the channels and ability to act as a focal point invaluable to Cardiff. Both of those are something that Warnock’s men have been in need of for some time. Niasse was described as another player who should be among the first on the team sheet for Gameweek 26 by Cardiff’s local press. He had more efforts on goal than any player in the match but was also joint-top for chances created too. While he is yet to find any attacking returns this season, Niasse is one to watch based on this performance.
“Oumar needed a bit of love and since he’s been here I don’t think he’s ever worked so hard. He smiles at me when I shout at him, but he’s given us another dimension. It makes you think we’ve played two and a half years without a striker, it’s not bad going really!” – Neil Warnock
Warnock may be faced with a selection dilemma in midfield now, given the form of Reid especially. Ralls and Aron Gunnarsson (£4.4m) played the deeper holding roles against Bournemouth, but could both drop to the bench for Gameweek 26. Harry Arter (£4.9m) was ineligible to face his parent club but his bustling energy in central midfield has not really been matched by either Ralls or Gunnarsson this season. Meanwhile, Camarasa is still missing through injury but Warnock is optimistic about a return soon. Where he will slot back in will be interesting to see. Many have claimed that the Spaniard has been Cardiff’s best player this season, having operated at number 10 before Reid’s recent run of form. Warnock will have to decide which of the two holds that berth, with Camarasa also capable of playing deeper in the 4-2-3-1.
“We didn’t have Harry Arter or Victor (Camarasa), so we were quite bold in the team selection, I thought we were quite positive in how we set up.” – Neil Warnock
Predicting who will play on the left wing for Cardiff is becoming more difficult with each passing Gameweek. Having not started since Gameweek 21, Josh Murphy (£4.8m) was back against Bournemouth, with Junior Hoilett (£5.0m) getting the nod for the Gameweek 23 defeat at Newcastle, the last time Cardiff played 4-2-3-1.
“It was good to see (Josh) Murphy back in the swing of things.” – Neil Warnock
The right flank looks a little simpler if Niasse is to make the centre-forward position his own. Callum Paterson (£5.0m) has been deployed on the right of midfield for the last two matches in which Warnock has used the 4-2-3-1 formation. He looks likely to keep his place there for now.
The clean sheet kept on Saturday evening was Cardiff’s seventh of the season, an impressive total considering their newly-promoted status. Only Liverpool (13), Chelsea (11), Manchester City (10), Tottenham (10) and Crystal Palace (nine) have recorded more this season than the Bluebirds.
“So to be disciplined like we were and get a clean sheet – our seventh clean sheet which for a relegation-threatened side is pretty good – we had all the ingredients. It was almost like we couldn’t be beaten, the crowd would not let us be beaten. It was fabulous being stood on the touchline.” – Neil Warnock
This latest shutout was particularly impressive considering that Cardiff
Bamba and Manga looked particularly impressive against Bournemouth, emerging as the game’s leaders for Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions (CBI) scoring 14 and 11 respectively. Only two players have achieved higher CBI scores than Bamba in Gameweek 25 so far.
“It’s hugely disappointing as we really wanted to build on what we’ve done. We thought the Chelsea game could’ve been a turning point for us and we’re really searching for consistency. We’ve never felt like we’ve got that, we go away from home and we feel really disappointed today. There’s time to reflect and focus on Liverpool but to sort out our inconsistency is the biggest challenge. We can’t play like we did on Wednesday then play like we did today – the mental side was a factor today.” – Eddie Howe
Bournemouth are obviously struggling in the face of key players missing, with Callum Wilson (£6.4m) absent for the second match in a row with a knee problem and David Brooks (£5.1m) recently joining him on the sidelines. The Welshman is likely to be out for three weeks with an ankle injury.
“David (Brooks) injured his ankle scoring against Chelsea. It was a strange injury, he didn’t feel it kicking the ball but felt in the celebration that he injured himself. He’ll be missing for around three weeks we think.” – Eddie Howe
In their absence, Bournemouth’s remaining key players did not particularly impress, after promising so much. In the four matches prior to Gameweek 24, only Paul Pogba (£8.6m) had more shots in the box than Josh King (£6.4m), who mustered just two in Cardiff. Making his Premier League debut up front, Dominic Solanke (£4.7m) did not register a single effort. Meanwhile, Ryan Fraser (£6.1m), usually a consistent creator, played just one key pass in the whole 90 minutes. Repeat performances from these players and their Bournemouth team-mates in Gameweek 26 could help Liverpool defensive and attacking assets reward patience in them.
The back four remained unchanged for Bournemouth from the quartet who kept out Chelsea midweek, while Artur Boruc (£3.9m) continues to keep Asmir Begović (£4.4m) out of the team.
Cardiff City XI (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Bennett, Bamba, Ecuele Manga, Peltier; Murphy (Hoilett 69′), Ralls, Gunnarsson, Paterson; Reid (Bacuna 86′); Niasse (Zohoré 83′).
Bournemouth XI (4-4-1-1): Boruc; A Smith, Aké, S Cook, Clyne; Fraser, Surman, Gosling (Lerma 69′), Stanislas (Ibe 62′); King; Solanke (Mousset 62′).