Best January signing dares Bournemouth to dream of survival

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Callum Wilson only played in seven Premier League games for Bournemouth before suffering a knee injury in September that has kept him out of action ever since.

The five goals the former Coventry man scored in that short time meant his presence would be sorely missed and the Cherries duly suffered without him leading their line.

In their next 13 games, the south coast side collected just 14 points at an average of 1.07 per outing.

There was a brief giddy period when Chelsea and Manchester United were dispatched in consecutive matches, as part of a three-game win streak. But, in the main, Eddie Howe must have been acutely aware of the need for additional firepower.

In January, the manager splashed out £17m on two new strikers. £10m of that was spent on Wolves frontman Benik Afobe, which was a club record fee. After just eight appearances on the south coast, the former Arsenal youth product’s acquisition has to be considered a supreme success and, perhaps, the best buy of any Premier League club in January.

Having scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over Southampton that moved the Cherries eight points clear of the relegation zone and to distant 12/1 chances for the drop, Afobe’s arrival has coincided with a stark improvement in the team’s fortunes.

Since the 23-year-old’s debut against West Ham, Bournemouth have earned 11 points, which works out at an average of 1.37 per contest.

Afobe has scored four times in a Cherries shirt and his new club are undefeated when he finds the net.

The south-coast derby wasn’t the Londoner’s most noticeable display, yet he still provided the exclamation point for a vital win. Such a hallmark is like gold dust for teams in the lower reaches of the top flight, who rely on goalscorers to keep them afloat.

With Afobe proving he’s more than just Wilson’s fill in while pushing Bournemouth to safety, the club look well set to establish themselves in the Premier League once that pair can share the pitch next season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.