Why AFC Bournemouth could be a surprise play-off package
While Championship consolidation would have been Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe’s primary objective this season, the Cherries boss has put his side in the play-off conversation with three consecutive wins.
The south coast club are now 16 points above the relegation zone and although a repeat of their mid-season dip would throw them back among the strugglers, things are only looking up for Howe’s men at present.
A 5-0 home thumping of Doncaster Rovers followed by consecutive away wins over relative giants Blackpool and Blackburn means the Boscombe-based club are now just 10 points behind sixth-placed Reading with a game in hand.
And with a fairly kind run of fixtures coming up for the remainder of this month the 50/1 on Bournemouth making the play-offs could tumble over the coming weeks.
A home tie against Middlesbrough looks winnable, given the Cherries’ home form this term and the fact they secured a solid 3-3 draw at the Riverside earlier this year.
Then back-to-back games against relegation threatened Charlton and Barnsley represent a decent chance at six points, with Howe’s men already having taken maximum points from both.
Slightly trickier challenges will then present themselves in the shape of Leeds United and Birmingham but unless both improve their form in the meantime, Bournemouth could well go into those games as favourites.
Cherries’ current win run puts them on a par with league leaders Leicester and Manchester City slayers Wigan on current form, while Leeds have not picked up a win in five games at the time of writing.
The Blues are similarly troubled at present, with Lee Clarke’s men taking maximum points just once in six attempts.
April sees the Dean Court residents take on a number of teams looking to solidify a top six place, so the play-offs remain an outside hope, but if Howe can get his team in the running for the home straight then anything is possible.
Bournemouth are known for finishing campaigns with a bang, with the eight wins and one draw from their last nine in last year’s promotion success still fresh in the mind.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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