25/07/2014: Bournemouth 0-1 Saints / Chambers to Arsenal
When Saints travelled to Bournemouth on 11th July 2009 it felt as if a dark cloud had been lifted from over St Marys. Three days earlier Markus Liebherr and Nicola Cortese had completed a deal to buy the financially stricken club, bringing an end to months of fear and uncertainty.
An inexperienced side temporarily managed by Stewart Henderson did well to lose just 2-1, but for the first time in a long time, Saints’ long term prospects looked good. The club now had money and stability behind them, and while few could have predicted such a rapid rise to the top, the downward cycle that the club had been on for the previous five years looked to be finally coming to an end. The only way was up.
Fast-forward five years and the mood is remarkably different. Saints travelled to Bournemouth once again, and actually performed fairly well, beating the Cherries 1-0. Most of the optimism gained from the display evaporated an hour or so after the final whistle however, when news broke that Calum Chambers was set for a big money move to Arsenal.
The departures of Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana were all disappointing in their own way, but Chambers’ sale may be the most galling of all. Saints got five great seasons out of Lambert, and even more from Lallana. Shaw developed into an England international in his two years at St Marys. Chambers had a solid season last year, but still wasn’t even close to reaching his maximum potential. Saints fans should have had the opportunity to witness him at his best, but sadly won’t be able to now. He should have been at the forefront of this new look team, the way Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin were at the start of the Cortese era.
You have to wonder where it will all end. Most have accepted that Dejan Lovren will go, but up until last week there seemed to be a prevailing feeling that the worst of it was over, and we wouldn’t lose many more. Now confidence in the club has been completely drained once again. Schneiderlin and Jay Rodriguez will surely be off soon. Jose Fonte and Jack Cork have contract issues still unresolved. Will the likes of Victor Wanyama and Gaston Ramirez be sold if the right offers come in too? The club seem unwilling to draw the line at any point.
Back on the pitch, Saints looked fairly handy against Bournemouth, particularly in the first-half. Ronald Koeman’s men were noticeably more aggressive in their pressing than they had been at Swindon, especially early on. Maya Yoshida had the first chance, heading wide from a corner. Saints looked quick and incisive in the final third, with Ramirez and new boy Dusan Tadic standing out. The former had a shot curl over the bar.
Saints scored the only goal of the game on 20. Lloyd Isgrove brilliantly leapt above his man to head into the corner following Nathaniel Clyne’s cross. Saints were well on top until half-time, with much of the play going down the right. James Ward-Prowse and Graziano Pelle shot straight at the keeper. At the other end, Artur Boruc made a good double save.
The action quietened down in the second-half. Saints were re-energised following a procession of substitutions on 60 and 76, and pretty much maintained control throughout. The visitors had a few more half-chances, mostly from set-pieces and speculative efforts from range. Bournemouth did push on late in the game. Ian Harte had a free-kick ruled out at the end, much to the amusement of the travelling fans. There were a few more tetchy moments before the final whistle, but overall Saints were good value for the win.
Boruc: Tipped away a swerving cross and then made a good 2nd save just before half-time
Clyne: Strong at both ends of the pitch once again
Fonte: Looked comfortable. Timing very good
Yoshida: A Bournemouth man got beyond him on one occasion early on, but apart from that steady enough
Targett: Wasn’t really troubled that much defensively, but looked more assured and generally better positioned than he was at Swindon
Davis: Back in a deeper midfield role. Kept the ball moving quickly and provided plenty of energy
Ward-Prowse: Linked the play well, with mostly short and simple passes
Tadic: A very encouraging outing. Footwork very good. Created a few openings with clever one-touch play
Ramirez: Very impressive showing given he’s only been back in training a week. Saw a lot of the ball. Was at the heart of many good attacking moves
Isgrove: Didn’t see that much of the ball, but made some useful runs, including the one for the goal
Pelle: A step up from his Swindon display. Showcased some decent skill
Cork: Showed some good awareness. One bad tackle
Hooiveld: Had a fairly easy game
Reed: A solid range of passing for the midfield who signed a new contract on the day of the game
McQueen: Did plenty of defensive work, tracking back on the right
Stephens: Another solid cameo in midfield. Made a few good runs forward. One good last ditch clearance near the end
Mayuka: Had one shot fly well wide
Gallagher: Held the ball up well at the end
Saints - Isgrove (20)
Attendance: 7,421 (1,382 Saints fans)
Referee: Andy Davies
Bournemouth: Buchel, Smith (Cargill 71), Cook (Francis 71), Elphick, Daniels (Harte 71), McQuoid (Stanislas 71), Gosling (Whitfield 82), O’Kane (Matthews 82), Pugh (Arter 71), Kermorgant (Pitman 71), Wilson (Ritchie 46)
Subs not used: McCarthy
Saints: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida (Hooiveld 60), Targett, Davis (Reed 60), Ward-Prowse (Stephens 76), Ramírez (Cork 46), Tadic (McQueen 60), Isgrove (Mayuka 76), Pelle (Gallagher 76)
Subs not used: K Davis, Flannigan, McCarthy, Sharp