Football Features

Bournemouth 1-0 Spurs: Five things learned as red card bonanza puts top four in doubt

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:50, 4 May 2019

In a heart-stopping afternoon of football, Bournemouth beat nine-man Tottenham Hotspur 1-0.

Nathan Aké’s injury-time header gave Bournemouth their first-ever league victory over Spurs. What did we learn?

1. Mark Travers: debut merchant

Asmir Begovic? No. Artur Boruc? No. Eddie Howe opted to put his young stopper Mark Travers in for this game and he may well have discovered a new gem. Travers was sensational against Spurs, and in a way, we really should have been this coming.

Back in 2017, Travers made his senior debut for Weymouth (on loan from Bournemouth) against Bishop’s Stortford and marked the occasion with a sensational goal. Yes, goal. From inside his own half, he belted the ball over everyone, including the opposition keeper and into the back of the net. He has no problem making a statement on debut.

That was seen again today, where he came in and instantly acted like a human wall. Travers was cat-like in his reflexes, constantly punching Spurs shots up and away from him. And alright, none of the shots were necessarily far away from him, but they were fast shots that required him to act fast to get the ball away.

He did this repeatedly, and one now looks forward to his EFL Cup and FA Cup debuts next season. What’s next? An assist? An overhead kick? Don’t rule anything out with this kid!

2. Eric Dire

It’s no secret that Eric Dier has had a poor season. The Englishman has struggled with a litany of injuries and health issues that have prevented him from finding his mojo after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It’s been a rough go of things, especially as Dier had to watch from the bench as Spurs played their first Champions League semi-final in a lifetime.

But today against Bournemouth, Spurs fans would have wished Dier was back on the bench. Well, he was in the second half but it was a disastrous first-half that they would be trying to forget.

Dier was shockingly bad, giving the ball away and not protecting his defence either. He somehow avoided a red card for a shockingly cynical midfield lunge, and then later somehow didn’t give away a penalty when he kicked Callum Wilson’s legs out from underneath him.

Poch took him off at half-time and even though Spurs were two men down for the entire second half there wasn’t an enormous drop in their effectiveness simply because Dier had been removed.

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3. The Cherries find their sharpness

Everyone knows that cherries are sweet. And that’s great for the fruit, but for a football club like AFC Bournemouth? You need a bit of sharpness, that tang that hits the tastebuds and makes you instantly thirsty.

Bournemouth had a lot of the ball against Spurs, certainly in the second half when the visitors had just nine men on the pitch, but they rarely threatened Spurs. In fact, their attacks repeatedly fell apart in front of the Spurs defence, not with too much strain on the part of the Spurs defenders either. Victor Wanyama played centre-back for an entire half and looked remarkably comfortable in the process.

The Cherries haven’t often had trouble scoring goals (their total of 52 is the highest in the bottom half of the table) but today they looked all at sea with no idea of how to break down Spurs. But in the end, it should have been obvious what was coming. Spurs were dropping deeper and deeper as the match wore on, inviting pressure, and eventually, that pressure told with Aké’s point-blank header.

A huge goal in more ways than one because it was Ryan Fraser’s 14th assist, pulling him ahead of Eden Hazard as this season’s top goal creator. Could the Scot go on to win the award as Hazard focuses on the Europa League? That would be an immense achievement for both Bournemouth as a club and especially Fraser as a player. He has more assists than Messi!

4. Red card bonanza

Everyone loves a bit of drama, and Spurs knew that they would have to liven up their match with Bournemouth to get headlines. And, well, they did just that. Whether it’s the stress of their impending Champions League elimination or a side distracted by how hard they know they’ll have to work to turn things around in Amsterdam, something was bothering the Spurs boys.

First Eric Dier should have been sent off but wasn’t. Then late in the first-half Heung-min Son lost control to the slightest bit of provocation from Jefferson Lerma, kicking out at the Colombian and then pushing him over. A moment of madness from the usually cool and collected Korean.

But even that wasn’t the wildest moment of ill-discipline as Juan Foyth, who only came on at half-time, barrelled into Jack Simpson with a shocking sliding tackle that saw the Argentine’s raised foot stab into the side of Simpson’s knee. Instant red card and Spurs, who had been knocking at the door for the whole first-half, were suddenly in survival mode.

They failed to hold out, of course, and now their place in the top four is genuinely under threat. Spurs now have to beat Everton on the final day, because any slips could let Chelsea, Arsenal and maybe even Manchester United in.

5. Oddly ideal Ajax preparation?

You never like to lose before a big game, and you certainly never like to run yourself into the ground just a few days before a big game either. Spurs did both today during their match against Bournemouth but in a weird way, it was kind of the ideal situation to prepare for their test against Ajax midweek.

Firstly their star-man Heung-min Son played just 43 minutes, but they were furious minutes so he will be focused by them.

Moreover, his exit from the game was down to a moment of stupidity, which will surely rile him up to the point where he’ll desperately want to come out swinging (metaphorically, of course) against Ajax.

Then there was the drilling their defence got for the entire game. Men were out of position and still put an enormous shift in. Alright, they were eventually undone but they were also down to nine men for much of the game. Imagine that kind of rugged defensive display with Heung-min Son leading a counter-attack? That could be just what they need to defeat Ajax.