Having just seen the Cherries take on Everton at Dean Court, it was no doubt rattling about in the minds of a few Everton fans that a certain Dan Gosling might still have been playing for them if things had been a bit differently.
Dan of course moved to Newcastle before joining the Cherries in the summer of 2014. He is one of those players that you might think has been playing top-flight football for many years, yet he is still only 25.
While he originally made his mark in a strong Plymouth Argyle side when they were back in the Championship, his time on Merseyside really propelled him towards high recognition and even three England Under-21 caps. He may not have had great success at Newcastle because of a long-term knee injury, but at Bournemouth he has suddenly re-found the quality that originally marked him out as a promising young talent on Merseyside.
It has not all been straight forward though for Dan at AFC Bournemouth though. Last season he flittered in and out of the team and saved his best performances for the Capital One Cup. In the league, he found it hard to get ahead of Harry Arter who went on to be recognised as the Championship and Fans’ Player of the Season. That success for Arter has more than likely been an inspiration for Dan as he looks more determined than ever to hold his place in a Cherries side that is looking to navigate its way safely through its first Premier League season. The injuries to Callum Wilson and Max Gradel have played into Dan’s favour to some extent. It has meant a change of shape in Eddie Howe’s team formation and with a five-man midfield, there is now room for Arter and Gosling to play together.
Dan’s ability to score goals has always been part of his game and it has never been more needed than where the Red Army find themselves at this moment. He has been unlucky not to have scored more than the two goals in the league, having skied a shot on the opening day against Aston Villa and found Newcastle’s Rob Elliot in terrific form on another week. Yet his goal against Swansea City capped probably his best performance in a Bournemouth shirt, although in recent weeks he has been just as influential in the wins against Chelsea and Man United.
The Premier League would appear to be where Dan is at home. He finds more time on the ball than many central midfielders, and his understanding with his team-mates is now at a level where some passing becomes second nature to him. It will be very intriguing to see what Howe does in January, and whether he may bring in a new striker, or stick with a central midfield three. By that time, the Cherries are likely to have played 10 or more games with that formation and much of the reason for playing that way will have been to include Gosling in the starting line-up.
Dan Gosling has taken his opportunity and has surprised many fans at Dean Court. While some pundits have questioned the depth of Howe’s squad, there is no denying that Dan has been a find this season and if he can help the team to get out of the relegation scrap, he will have had a tremendous season.
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