10) Flat-track bullies Bournemouth
The three teams Bournemouth have beaten in the Premier League this season are currently 15th, 17th and 18th. The three teams who have beaten them are 2nd, 3rd and 4th. With draws against the sides in 8th and 13th, there could be no more suitable a position for them than 10th.
For a team that have flitted between 9th and 16th – sorry, we appear to be entrenched in a game of Numberwang! – in their Premier League lifetime, that would perhaps be enough. Stability and security is not to be sniffed at in these tumultuous times, and Bournemouth seem to have fallen upon a happy median where they are as far from returning to the Championship as they are from touring Europe. But a sense of missed opportunities lingers.
Arsenal were there for the taking on Sunday, but were allowed to stumble to a 1-0 victory by virtue of their visitors failing to turn up in the first half and struggling to maintain pressure in the second. Jack Stacey’s cross and Callum Wilson’s tame effort from outside the area was all they could offer in 95 meek minutes. Having a shot on target, never mind scoring, in comfortable defeat to Manchester City represented an improvement on March’s record-breaking bluntness, while Leicester carved through them at the King Power Stadium.
In this, the season when the Premier League’s cabal was supposed to be broken up by a mid-table uprising, Bournemouth seem to have missed their cue. Their only other league wins since January were against a Tottenham side in suspended crisis, Chris Hughton’s Brighton and relegated Huddersfield.
Only Watford (25) and Brighton (20) have picked up fewer points than their 30 in a Premier League table of ever-present sides in 2019. Only Watford (51) have conceded more than their 46. It was supposed to be different . It all feels a little underwhelming.
9) Aston Villa’s resolve
Timing is everything, so this obviously comes after Aston Villa turned a one-goal lead into a five-goal lead at Norwich before Josip Drmic’s incredibly ambitious attempts to retrieve the ball and restart the game quickly. But Dean Smith’s side do have something of a problem: they have dropped as many points from winning positions as they have won overall (8).
They were in front for 64 minutes against Tottenham before contriving to lose, and led for an hour at Arsenal only to return from north London empty-handed for the second time in two months. The draw against Burnley, having twice held an advantage, was equally regrettable.
Villa have, at times, been excellent. John McGinn has acclimatised brilliantly, Wesley has confounded the critics , Nakamba has been Marvelous and only five clubs have scored more goals. They are one win away from matching their entire total of wins in their last Premier League season, and almost halfway to equalling the points haul. But some better game management, solidity and fortune could have seen them edging into a vulnerable top half rather than sitting just above […]