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Talking Tactics

All-rounder Billing at centre of Cherries' revival

Adrian Clarke 7 Feb 2020
Philip Billing BOUAVL action

Adrian Clarke highlights 23-year-old's importance to AFC Bournemouth and says he could target another goal at Sheff Utd

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 26.

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AFC Bournemouth will be hoping for another standout display from Philip Billing when they travel to Sheffield United aiming for a third straight Premier League win.

The Danish midfielder was outstanding as the Cherries secured a deserved 2-1 success against Aston Villa last weekend despite being reduced to 10 men.

The 23-year-old not only scored his side's opening goal, he also created two chances, won six out of seven tackles and made nine clearances.

Without the suspended Jefferson Lerma by his side, the powerful Billing will need to step up once again with another influential display.

The former Huddersfield Town midfielder has been one of Eddie Howe's most consistent performers this term.

Brought in last summer to beef up the physicality of AFC Bournemouth's midfield, Billing has proven to be a strong ball-winner.

Billing's defensive stats per 90
2019/20 Billing Club rank
Duels won 8.3 1st
Tackles won 1.8 1st
Interceptions 2.6 2nd
Aerial battles won 3.7 2nd

Howe usually prefers a 4-4-2 system but his side played well in a 4-3-3 formation against Villa, so it would be a surprise to see a move away from that shape this weekend.

With the dangerous Harry Wilson and Ryan Fraser flanking striker Callum Wilson, the Cherries have strong counter-attacking potential.

Behind them, Lewis Cook or Andrew Surman will likely join Billing and Dan Gosling in the starting XI at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United's midfield trio have functioned superbly throughout 2019/20 and could dominate if the Cherries do not match them up numerically.

One of AFC Bournemouth's best displays of the campaign, a 1-0 win at Chelsea, was achieved with a 4-5-1 formation so this is a system that has worked for them.

In this set-up, do not be surprised to see Billing push on and try his luck from distance. The Dane has had 14 shots from outside the box this season.

Set-piece threat

When these two sides met on the opening weekend, both goals came from wide free-kicks in a 1-1 draw.

Chris Mepham's goal for AFC Bournemouth was the first of the Cherries' 13 strikes this season from dead-ball situations, the highest tally of any Premier League club.

Top scorers from set-pieces 2019/20
Club Goals* Total %
AFC Bournemouth 13 25 52
Newcastle 12 24 50
Liverpool 11 60 18
Wolves 10 35 29

*from set-pieces excluding penalties

Under Howe, the south-coast side have always been inventive from corners and free-kicks and this has become the most dangerous weapon in their arsenal.

No team rely on set-pieces more than AFC Bournemouth, who have scored 52 per cent of their goals from such situations.

With seven goals from corners, three from wide free-kicks and three from direct free-kicks, Chris Wilder's Blades will need to be alive to the threat when defending dead balls.

Also in this series

Part 2: Murray can profit from fast partner against Watford
Part 3: Calvert-Lewin benefiting from Ancelotti faith
Part 4: Can Man City solve their efficiency problem?

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