After all the talk about tranfers, takeovers and possible terminations, we get back to what it’s all about on Saturday – playing Premier League football. Albion visit Dean Court, sorry the Vitality Stadium, on Saturday looking to put some life into their sluggish start to the season while the hosts still looking for their first Premier League win of the campaign.
Unlike the Baggies, the Cherries will be boosted by their transfer window having made a marquee signing, albeit on loan. Jack Wilshere is certainly a coup for the south coast club, no doubt helped by the presence of his best friend, Benik Afobe, in the Bournemouth ranks – it was a signing that Albion could never have made following the way that Serge Gnabry was treated last season and, I would guess, Wilshere would be unlikely to enjoy playing under Tony Pulis.
Wilshere was one of eleven signings made by Eddie Howe, with the biggest money deal being £15m for Jordan Ibe from Liverpool, one of the seemingly hundreds of players that Albion were linked with over the summer. Bournemouth also spent £6m each on Brad Smith (also from Liverpool) and Lewis Cook from Leeds. Those signings show how inflated the market became this summer; not many people would’ve price Ibe so highly, and paying £6m for a 22-year-old with only 18 first team appearances to his name, 10 of which came on loan at League 1 Swindon Town, seems crazy. Lewis Cook, however, is only 19 and has already played more than 80 times for Leeds United in just two seasons – £6m seems like a calculated gamble rather than outright poor business.
That over-priced market is not one that Albion seemed prepared to deal in, and while that approach can be criticised, when you compare Ibe’s signing with that of Nacer Chadli who cost £2m less, I’d say that even when the ex-Liverpool winger’s youth is taken into consideration, Chadli seems like better value.
Of course, time will tell. Many Premier League clubs will regret some of the over-priced signings they have made, particularly those from overseas who may not necessarily settle well into English football, but some may also regret the signings they didn’t make.
Wilshere will certainly be keen to impress on Saturday and Cherries’ strikers Josh King and Callum Wilson no doubt salivating at the service they expect to get from the England midfielder. His debut will certainly raise expectations amongst the Bournemouth faithful, and I’m sure Albion will need to survive an early onslaught.
It will be interesting to see how Pulis integrates his new signings into the squad. With the international break, he will not have had a chance to work for very long with the full squad and may not want to risk making too many changes. I would certainly expect Chadli to start, but I expect HKR to be on the bench and there is a question mark as to whether Nyom will get his debut ahead of Craig Dawson.
If Albion can get through the first twenty minutes without conceding, they will have a chance of getting a result. It will be a tight game and I think it will finish all square.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
7 May 2016 – Premier League
AFC Bournemouth 1 (Ritchie)
West Brom 1 (Rondón)
23 Aug 2011 – League Cup 2nd Round
AFC Bournemouth 1 (Lovell)
West Brom 4 (Thomas, Fortuné (2), Cox)
Albion’s Record against AFC Bournemouth
|Premier League Record|