Talking Tactics

Wilson a decisive figure for AFC Bournemouth

Adrian Clarke 15 Mar 2019
Callum Wilson

Adrian Clarke analyses the Cherries' record with and without their fit-again star striker

Adrian Clarke looks at a key tactical talking point in Matchweek 31.

It is no coincidence that AFC Bournemouth’s return to winning ways at Huddersfield Town last weekend arrived when Callum Wilson came back from a seven-week injury.

When the England striker is fit and available, Eddie Howe’s side are a very different proposition.

With his movement, pace and poacher’s instinct, Wilson tends to have a huge impact on the team's performances and results. 

Main man

AFC Bournemouth’s record with and without their leading scorer is revealing. 

Although they memorably ran out 4-0 winners against Chelsea while Wilson was recovering from injury, the Cherries usually struggle without him. 

Of the nine Premier League matches that he has not started this term, they have failed to score in six and have lost all but two of those contests.

Without their talisman to stretch defences, a less vibrant AFC Bournemouth side claimed only four points from 27 available. 

On average, they score one goal fewer every time Wilson fails to make the starting XI. 

AFC Bournemouth this season
  W D L Failed to score Ave goals
Without Wilson 1 1 7 6 0.7
With Wilson 9 3 9 5 1.7
An efficient return

With England manager Gareth Southgate looking on, Wilson delivered a goal and an assist in the 2-0 win at Huddersfield Town. 

Although he was often on the periphery of the action, his 32 touches being the fewest of all the players who featured for 90 minutes, he still made the difference. 

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Playing off the shoulder of defenders and mixing up the angles of his runs, Wilson’s speed of movement created uncertainty in the Terriers’ rearguard. 

He conjured one shot on target from an acute angle, scored with a close-range chest finish at the far post, and ran in behind to square a pass for Ryan Fraser to net a second.  

Those contributions gave the Cherries three points and were rewarded with an England call-up.

Howe’s Fab Four 

Wilson is part of a four-man attack that Howe would love to field in every fixture.

Within a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2 system, AFC Bournemouth are far more formidable when David Brooks, Joshua King, Fraser and Wilson start together. 

In 2019 they have appeared together in only three Premier League encounters but those contests returned seven goals, six of which came from members of the quartet. 

Results with and without Brooks, King, Fraser and Wilson
  P W D L Ave goals
Without quartet 17 3 1 13 0.89
With quartet 13 8 3 2 2

When the four are on the pitch together their combined guile, trickery, pace and shooting prowess make Howe’s side less predictable. 

They are also adept at pulling defenders out of position by constantly rotating positions.

In 2018/19, the Cherries average two goals per match when the four all start. 

But when that unit is broken up, the south-coast side’s goal output dips below one per match. 

If the quartet all start against Newcastle United this weekend, the prospects of a home win look greatly enhanced.

Also in this series

Part 1: Lallana adding punch to Liverpool midfield
Part 2: Vardy profiting from Rodgers' high press
Part 3: Calvert-Lewin can match Lukaku with ruthless streak

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