If you told the Bournemouth faithful ten years ago that in 2018, they would be sitting sixth in the Premier League after two games, above Manchester United and Arsenal, they would have snapped your hand off.
Yes, it is only two games but Eddie Howe and his staff have done a fantastic job on the South Coast and deserve all the plaudits they are receiving.
Comfortably pushing aside Cardiff City before coming back to beat West Ham 2-1 on their own soil, Bournemouth have given themselves a solid foundation upon which to build going into the new season.
The summer transfer window saw Bournemouth bring in just three new signings which could have been deemed a cause for concern before the season.
However, after the victory over West Ham on Saturday, Howe insisted he holds great faith in many of his players.
“We pride ourselves on the fact we have been loyal to players who have deserved to be here. They have earned it. We have continuity and that helps us how we play.”
Howe has started the same team in his first two outings and is likely to stick with the same system when they host Everton on Saturday. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Here are three potential lineups that could suit Eddie Howe this season:
The 4-4-2 should be Eddie Howe's go-to formation this season, a formation that has served him very well throughout his career, including in Bournemouth's promotion season. Howe has set up with a 4-4-2 for both games this season, resulting in them achieving maximum points.
Once Howe has a fully fit squad, it will be interesting to see which players get the nod ahead of their teammates with many versatile players at his disposal.
Asmir Begovic will more than likely remain Bournemouth's first choice goalkeeper this season ahead of Artur Boruc.
The centre back pairing could provide Howe with some selection headache's this season. It is expected that Nathan Ake will occupy the left-sided centre back position this season. However, Howe will have to decide if he wants Steve Cook or Simon Francis partnering him.
After impressing in both of his opening games following his arrival from Sheffield United, David Brooks has been handed a spot in the starting XI on the right side of a four-man midfield.
Brooks, who shone for the Blades last season, earned himself an opportunity to showcase his talents in England's top tier and has done remarkably so far. The youngster enjoys playing as an attacking midfielder, so don't be surprised to see him moving up behind the strikers, allowing Adam Smith to move up the pitch from his right back position to provide width when Brooks moves inside.
Ryan Fraser, who endured a stunning loan spell at Ipswich in 2015 has started both games on the other flank. Since his return to the Bournemouth side, he has put in a series of impressive shifts, becoming a regular in the squad. Fraser looks like he will continue his impressive career trajectory and has a goal and an assist already this season.
As long as Callum Wilson stays fit, he will undoubtedly be a vital player for Bournemouth this season. Wilson is a defender's worst nightmare and, so far this season, he has put his injury woes behind him and hit the ground running.
In the opening games, Joshua King has linked up with Callum Wilson in the attack and poses for a very exciting front two for Eddie Howe's side.
Another formation which Howe could turn to is the tried and tested 4-1-4-1, used to stymie counter-attacking sides. With the wide men acting as forwards, the formation can morph into a 4-3-3.
New recruit and full back Diego Rico, like most modern full backs, enjoys getting forward to help attack and put crosses into the box. The left back who occupies a great work ethic could potentially oust Daniels from the starting XI as the season progresses.
Record signing, Jefferson Lerma from Levante, will provide much-needed competition in the middle of the field. Given his physical presence, he could turn out to be a very solid signing for the Cherries. Usually deployed as a defensive midfielder, he will more than likely drop in front of the two centre backs to offer them the protection they need when their full backs go forward.
Lewis Cook, who enjoys picking the ball up and driving forward should become a stalwart for the side this season. He will look to continue his form from the previous campaign. Lerma and Cook could compliment each other's qualities very well and could be a very strong partnership this season going forward.
Jordon Ibe could take up his favoured role on the left side of a midfield. Since arriving for his big money move from Liverpool, the winger has failed to nail down a solid run of form. The £15 million signing has time on his side. However, the inconsistency in his game could result in less game time — a reason why he left Liverpool in the first place.
Even with the experienced Jermain Defoe sitting on the bench, if Callum Wilson remains fit, it is very unlikely that he will lose his spot.
The final formation to which Eddie Howe could turn to is arguably the most attacking of the three potential set-ups. Howe used this formation on the odd occasion last season with relative success.
Simon Francis, who is predominantly a centre back, could find a place alongside Steve Cook and Ake in defence. Francis, who has been with the Cherries since 2012, emphasises Howe's statement of being loyal and faithful to players who have helped the club in their rise and deserve their chance.
In a back three, the wing backs, Smith and Daniels, will drop back to form a back five, making it harder for teams to break them down.
With Harry Arter being loaned out to Cardiff City, Bournemouth are not blessed with a lot of central midfield options. Cook and Lerma should be a sound partnership.
They will face competition from Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman who have a breadth of Premier League experience. In this formation though, Howe is likely to play Cook and Lerma together over the other experienced pairing. Lerma would provide the anchor role in front of the back three, whilst Cook offers driving runs forward.
Lys Mousset could be seen as an option to start on the wide left. It is unlikely he will disrupt Callum Wilson's spot leading the line but the Frenchman does offer great pace, which could see him used to run the channels.
King would partner Wilson more centrally in the attack. With the versatility of the attacking side of his game, this could make for an exciting front three.
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