It was only six years ago when AFC Bournemouth completed their fairytale promotion to the Premier League. They were initially a force under ex-boss Eddie Howe but the players lost their way over the coming season and their football went stale as they were relegated in 2019-20. However, the Cherries look to have found their identity again as they look fresher than ever under new boss Scott Parker.
The Dorset side have had an excellent start to the season, sitting atop of the Championship table unbeaten in their opening 13 games, the only side boasting that achievement in the division. Their head coach has had an instant impact at Vitality Stadium since his summer arrival from Fulham. He has quickly implemented his style and long-term vision on his players and they have all bought into it as they look to make a swift return to the top-flight. And what will be most pleasing for the former midfielder is that his side are excelling at both ends of the pitch.
Signing former England international Gary Cahill after his release from Crystal Palace in the summer is already proving to be one of the best bits of business the Cherries have made in a long time as the veteran defender has already formed a formidable partnership with Lloyd Kelly in the heart of Parker’s defence. In Cahill’s eight starts for the club he has claimed four clean sheets and conceded just three goals as well as winning seven out of the eight matches.
The ex-Chelsea centre-back has brought a wealth of experience from the Premier League and the Champions League to the Cherries’ backline and he has helped strengthen their organisation. He will be a great mentor for his defensive partner Kelly who has also been turning in some outstanding performances this season. Speaking to the Guardian last week, Cahill said: “To jump away from the Premier League was a tough decision and one I wasn’t sure about, which is why it took me so long to decide what I wanted to do. But I can say I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”
At the other end of the pitch, Parker never has to worry about goals with Dominic Solanke leading the line. The English forward has been a key figure for Bournemouth this term with eight league goals to his name. It is refreshing to see him performing and enjoying his football after a tough start to life in senior football, dealing with the heavy baggage of expectation as a young star in the Chelsea academy.
After a torrid spell with Liverpool after leaving west London, Solanke looks to have found a home in Bournemouth and his development is excelling on the south coast. With his bright performances under his new boss this campaign, the 24-year-old looks already set to beat his tally of 15 league goals last year. The Bournemouth faithful can clearly see the impact Parker has had on the star striker and his goals will be key to their quest to return to the Premier League.
Parker looks to have made a well-balanced side at Bournemouth with the perfect mix of experience and youth, with young star Jordan Zemura also playing a starring role this season as the ever-dependable full-back. With less than half the season played, the Cherries look to be an unstoppable force in the second tier and with each passing game, their claim for promotion gets stronger. Their next challenge is Carlos Corberan’s Huddersfield Town at home and another victory will be the icing on the cake to Parker’s astonishing start in the Vitality Stadium hot seat.
Bournemouth are 4/6 to beat Huddersfield this weekend with Betfred.