Strengthened Bournemouth might rate a top-10 sizzler in 2016/17
Premier League champions Leicester seriously undermined the long-established theory that the top four was an unreachable hinterland reserved for the established powers and, while that feat is unlikely to be matched anytime soon, so-called minnows can readjust their 2016/17 sights as a result.
One team bristling with promise after successfully running the survival gauntlet in 2015/16 are Bournemouth.
Falling short of suggesting the Cherries will ‘do a Leicester’ in only their second season in the top flight, it’s still plausible that Eddie Howe’s men improve markedly for the experience and sneak above the fold.
We price up a top-10 finish as a 5/1 eventuality and this looks plump.
Adjustment to the top flight was difficult, but from the second game of last season where they outplayed Liverpool at Anfield without extracting any points, it was clear that the football which landed the Championship title wasn’t going to be compromised.
Some crushing injury blows early in the season briefly rocked the Bournemouth boat. By the end of August full-back Tyrone Mings and creative spark Max Gradel were ruled out for the season and six months respectively.
When anterior cruciate victim Callum Wilson joined Mings on the season-long absentee list at the end of September it was viewed as a relegation death knell by some after the striker had scored five times in six Premier League games. Wilson did return to the fold for six games from April.
Howe showed his resourcefulness and calmness in the face of adversity. Garnering the same team spirit that got his side promoted, the cracks were papered over at the Vitality Stadium in admirable fashion.
Although Gradel would go onto to make a very positive impact on the team after his February return, having this key trio back in the fold from the off next season is sure to be a welcome relief for Howe and fans alike.
A few have left the Vitality, notably Tommy Elphick and Matt Ritchie, who head back to the Championship.
However the calibre of summer signings should not only negate these losses but improve the squad considerably.
Among the new faces are Chelsea defender Nathan Ake on loan, Liverpool winger Jordon Ibe for a club-record fee of £15m, Leeds centre-mid Lewis Cook for £7m and highly-rated Le Havre forward Lys Mousset for an undisclosed fee.
By the conclusion of last season, the south-coast club finished just eight points shy of the halfway mark needed to land our chosen wager.
With a much better sense of their surroundings a year on, the scalps of Chelsea and Manchester United among others to build on from last season and a potential England manager in the making at the helm, it could be a season to back Bournemouth.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.