Keepers win games. Although AFC Bournemouth have brought in several outfield players this season, it is between the sticks were the most urgent signings were made before the Premier League adventure could begin.
It was necessary to sign a keeper who had played at the top level and who could instil confidence in the back four, and while Artur Boruc had played at AFC Bournemouth on loan for most of 2014-15, there was no guarantee in May that he would be the Cherries’ number one come August.
Eddie Howe made it a priority to sign the Polish keeper, who managed the landmark of 60 caps for his country this summer, and is keen to keep his current international number one position ahead of Wojciech Szczesny, who now also has major competition for his place at Arsenal, with the recent signing of Petr Cech.
Boruc has much to prove in the Premier League having been ousted from his previous number one spot at Southampton by Fraser Forster. His ambition to be seen as a top class keeper will be a factor that could well be essential in AFC Bournemouth’s survival in its debut season in the Premier League. We have heard how top keepers can earn their team as many as 12-15 points during a season, and the Cherries have such a stopper now. Moreover, if Artur becomes injured the team can still fall back on the experience of another new signing, Adam Federici – an Australia international who has also played at the top level for Reading.
AFC Bournemouth are a much changed team in goal from the one three seasons ago, when the experienced David James played out his last few games in England at the Cherries. James was helping the young Ryan Allsop to apply himself with more authority, when he had found keeping more difficult after a good start having signed from Leyton Orient. Ryan may still come good but last season he stayed out on loan at Coventry City for most of the time. There was no reprieve though for the Liechtenstein keeper Benjamin Buchel, who never quite made it to be a regular in the first team and was released by the club in the summer.
Lee Camp provided yet more stability to the position and was ably supported by Darryl Flahavan in the Championship for a while, but Bournemouth’s keepers now are very much the finished article and with the best years arguably ahead of them.
While everyone was watching the goals go in at the far end of the ground as Bournemouth racked up 98 league goals in 2014-15, it was also their ability to stop teams from scoring against them that enabled them to achieve the league’s best goal difference. In total they conceded 45 goals in the Championship and the back four and keeper will come under even sterner examination in the Premier League.
Artur played 39 times for the Cherries in 2014-15 with 37 league appearances and two cup games, making 85 saves in all. He managed 17 clean sheets with only one of them in a cup game, but he’ll aim to keep even more next season. I’m looking forward to seeing Artur back at Dean Court and will not be surprised if he is among the best keepers in the Premier League come the end of the season.
Those who go to the newly-named Vitality stadium (Dean Court) will know that Artur rarely gives his signature away pre-match, as he likes to remain focused before games. As a consequence, I had not managed to get his signature all of last season and thought I may have missed my chance after the last home match against Bolton Wanderers, which turned out to be a truly historic night for the club. However, I was lucky enough to catch him on the morning of the Victory Parade and pleaded with him then to sign for AFC Bournemouth. All I got was a smile, but I had a good feeling that he would sign – now he has it’s up to you to try and get Artur’s signature in 2015-16.
You can check out Peter’s blog page (Cherry Chimes) at www.afcbchimes.blogspot.co.uk.