Bournemouth show Championship credentials in classy win over Cardiff

Pacesetters Bournemouth were classy in their victory over Cardiff and are living up to pre-season expectations

A stark contrast in the style of play but ultimately the same goal, both Cardiff and Bournemouth are aspiring to get back into the Premier League.

Mick McCarthy, a veteran in management, tested his wits against Scott Parker, who is still a relative newcomer.

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It was youth that prevailed on this occasion with the Cherries coming out on top with Phillip Billing scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Dorset side, placing them top of the Championship with eight games gone and are yet to taste defeat.

Cardiff meanwhile have tasted four defeats in their last five outings and are currently going through an inconsistent run of form.

These two were competing for a play-off spot last season but on this showing it looks like Cardiff may have to think again of challenging for promotion. Bournemouth on the other hand are living up to pre-season expectations.

Youthful Bournemouth, Conservative Cardiff

The decision for Cardiff to loan out Josh Murphy on Deadline Day has signalled that for January at least, wingers will not be on the agenda.

Like many teams this season, Cardiff have set up with a flat back-five, playing with three out-and-out centre-backs.

The full-backs that were given the nod was the returning Ciaron Brown, a centre-back by trade, but a left-back against Scotland international Ryan Christie. On the other side, Tom Sang, a centre-midfielder originally, was moved into right-back and had to cope with the dynamic duo of Anthony and Zemura.

The difference in this match is that Bournemouth were playing with the shackles off meanwhile Cardiff with all their experience were a side that lacked creativity.

If a centre midfielder of Cardiff picked up the ball they were looking sideways or backwards rather than going forwards.

The stats don’t lie, Parker’s side had 65% of the possession throughout the match, recording 414 completed passes, more than double to Cardiff’s 160.

Credit has to go to Bournemouth in how they were able to cope with the rough and tumble of Cardiff in the final quarter. It was the only spell in which they were put under any pressure and they dealt with it.

The defence had to dig in deep and were hit with long throw-ins, corner kicks and floating crosses but they showed they could match it up.

Confidence from the Bournemouth fans

Chants of we’re top of the league, we are going up and the old ‘Ei Ei Ei Eo, up the Football League we go’ were chanted by the travelling Bournemouth fans in the moments after Billing’s opener.

The season isn’t past the first quarter stage yet but from the early stages of the Parker era, the fans are liking what they’re seeing from their side.

In the opposite camp, there were clear boos at the full-time whistle from the Cardiff fans, who were rarely given any chances of excitement in the match.

The difference in quality in both squads

Bournemouth were relegated from the Premier League a year later than Cardiff but the difference in quality in the two squads is huge.

Relegation from the Prem can go one way, you can have a fire sale and oversee an overhaul but Bournemouth have made subtle changes, whilst Cardiff’s squad is looking unimaginative.

It seems right now that Cardiff are in a transitional phase and are not looking to spend much in the transfer market. It’s been a case of wheeling and dealing for McCarthy, mainly bringing in freebies.

There are still some players from their 2018/19 campaign but those players have got older and time is running out for them. A number are out of contract in the summer, making it harder for continuity.

Bournemouth’s squad meanwhile is glittered with star quality and many of their expensive signings during their time in the top flight are still there.

Dominic Solanke, who made his 100th appearance for the club, joined from Liverpool in a reported £19m move in January 2019. He may not have netted but his off-the-ball work today helped create gaps for his other attackers.

There is also Jefferson Lerma, the clubs record signing, who is still on the books. Lerma put in a commanding display and nullified any Cardiff attacks.

Bournemouth’s board have supported Scott Parker, allowing him to make some wise signings like Christie and Lowe for small fees, whilst Gary Cahill looks an astute signing having signed him on a free transfer.

You also have to look at both sides benches and how they were used. Chris Mepham and David Brooks are two of the first names on the team sheet for Wales but both weren’t used today. Cardiff meanwhile brought on three players who didn’t cost them a dime.

The omens are good for Bournemouth

The 2014/15 season will go down as one of the most memorable seasons in the history of Bournemouth. At the end of the campaign they lifted the Championship trophy.

They have double the amount of points (18) than they did in their last promotion campaign (8) which highlights the superb start they are having.

This was also their first league win at the CCS, having come up short in both the Championship and the Premier League.

You can only focus on what your own team is doing in football but with Fulham and West Bromwich Albion dropping points, they end the game week at the top of the Championship.

Bournemouth remain one of the only sides not to lose in the league and will want to continue that going into the next international break.

Bournemouth are the ‘almost perfect’ Championship team

In his post-match presser, McCarthy was quite complimentary about Bournemouth, which went down well with the supporters who couldn’t attend.

“They are an almost perfect Championship team, they’re athletic and they have good footballers, they’re big and powerful and they can play so it was always going to be a tough one for us,” said the former Republic of Ireland boss.