Written by Akshay Kulkarni (@ImpatientPedant)
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe hailed his players’ mentalities after a professional performance from his side saw them beat West Ham 2-0.
A superb Callum Wilson half-volley and a Josh King tap-in was enough to snap the Cherries’ sorry run of four matches without victory.
Moments before Wilson’s arrowed opener, Andy Carroll had West Ham’s best chance which he smacked over from all of three yards.
Bournemouth eventually held on to also claim a vital clean sheet, and three points which brings them level with Everton.
Howe said he was delighted for his players: “I’m very pleased. I thought this is a real reward for the players’ efforts and mindset during this difficult run we’ve been on. They’ve worked incredibly hard, they’ve never let their heads drop, and they’ve trained well.
“I was just so keen for them to feel that winning feeling again on the back of them really sticking together.”
A lot of Bournemouth’s losses have been down to a lack of clinical edge or simply luck going against them. Howe said this time the coin fell on the right side from the Cherries’ perspective.
“Performance-wise I thought it maybe wasn’t as good as some we’ve had during the run we’ve been on. The key thing is today we got the break when we needed it, Andy Carroll missing that chance at the start of the second half was a key moment in the match. In previous weeks they’ve been going in against us.
“Today it didn’t and that enabled us to score the first goal which we haven’t done enough in this run.”
Wilson’s superb strike, his sixth against the Hammers in six appearances, came amid transfer speculation linking the frontman to big money moves elsewhere.
Howe spoke about the rumours: “I’ve not seen any reaction to the speculation. It is what it is. I think Callum’s been in the game long enough to know that there’s nothing you can do about it, he’s just got to concentrate on his football.
“He’s very much a team player, a vital part of what we do here. He knew how important the game was for us as a group and he had a very good display.”
Wilson had to go off after a knock, worrying for the Cherries given his recent injury troubles. Howe said it was a knee problem but had no further details.
A big decision from Howe was to drop first-choice keeper Asmir Begovic in favour of Artur Boruc. Begovic had conceded the most goals in the Premier League, and Boruc put in a good performance, but Howe was pressed to justify his call.
“You tweak other positions in the team without really thinking about it at great length. But the goalkeeper one is always one that’s analysed greatly. I understand why, but I just felt he deserved to play today.
“Boruc’s form has been very good, he’s trained excellently. In our game against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup he was outstanding and made a number of good saves. Asmir’s fine and he understood and very much supported Artur in his performance.”
Beaten manager Manuel Pellegrini was disappointed with his side’s toothless performance: “I am disappointed about the result. Maybe we played good football, but you need to create more chances, you need to shoot more. It’s [Bournemouth’s] a team that conceded 12 goals in the last four games, so it’s something we didn’t do well.”
Pellegrini refused to be drawn on the future of Marko Arnautovic, who did not make the trip to Dorset. The Austrian has been linked to a move to China.
The Chilean also claimed that Wilson’s strike, while ‘beautiful’, was slightly fortunate.
“When we started the second half we had a clear option to score the first goal. Maybe that will change the game absolutely. But we didn’t score, and they had a rebound from the tackle of Issa that they could score with. It was a little bit lucky.”
Whatever Pellegrini felt about it, the finish was a superb one and fired Cherries to a deserved win. Cherries next play Chelsea at home.