Sport Soccer

Monday 24 October 2016

Defence key to Bournemouth's recent surge, insists Howe

Published 05/02/2016 | 12:01

AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes his side has grown in strength
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe believes his side has grown in strength

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe believes his side's improving defence is the key to their impressive form in the Barclays Premier League.

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The Cherries have lost only two games in their last 14 in all competitions ahead of Sunday's home clash with title-chasing Arsenal.

Howe said: "It has become very important that we have become harder to beat. We have been dogged, resilient (and we now do) all the things we needed to do from the start (of the season).

"We had a lot of work to do.

"Full credit to the players in how they have responded, they have worked really hard this season and I have been very pleased with the mentality of the group, how they have approached the big games and the games against the teams around us.

"Now we need to maintain that consistency."

Bournemouth lost 2-0 to Arsenal over the festive period and Howe knows Sunday's clash against a team looking to looking to bounce back from their disappointing 0-0 draw with Southampton in mid-week will be a tough one.

"I dont think just because their name is Arsenal we approach this any different," he said. "There will always be tweaks and changes, that is how we work, but the mindset and approach is very much the same.

"I would like to think we are slightly more confident with the run we have had and the importance of the fixtures we have been able to win. Maybe we can go into the game with renewed belief we can beat the very best sides.

"They are under pressure to win the league, their objectives are totally different to ours. But I think we have to do what we do and try and do it to the very best of our abilities, than we will have a chance. But we are going to have to be at the very highest level to beat one of the best teams in the country."

January signing Benik Afobe will look to continue his flying start at Bournemouth against the team he began his career with.

The 22-year-old, who did not play a first-team goal for Arsenal before being sold to Wolves, has scored in his last three games .

Howe said: "I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly he has moulded to the group and grabbed our philosophy.

"His temperament is really good, (he's a) very level-headed guy and he works very hard.

"I think it is very dangerous to build the game up in your own mind. It's a former club yes, but you just have to approach it like you would any other game - be motivated to perform, but don't over-try."

Junior Stanislas faces a late fitness test after returning to training following a knee injury sustained against Sunderland, but Josh King could start after coming off the bench on Tuesday.

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