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Are AFC Bournemouth a Potential Candidate for European Football in 2019?

Has the South Coast club got the capability to compete for a European spot next season?

Bournemouth celebrate after putting four past Leicester City.

AFC Bournemouth has made their best start to a Premier League campaign in their fourth Premier League campaign season by gaining 10 points from their opening five games in the Premier League, leaving them in a Europa League spot. Bournemouth's latest win came at home with a comfortable victory over the 2015/16 season champions, Leicester City, in a 4-2 thriller at the Vitality Stadium. The opening goals saw a brace from Ryan Fraser, followed by Josh King who converted from the penalty spot after a handball saw the Cherries go into the break with a 3-0 lead. Right back, Adam Smith added to the Cherries' tally, firing home into the bottom left-hand corner, giving the Danish keeper no chance. However, flashbacks from previous seasons saw the Bournemouth defence switch off as they conceded two late goals from James Maddison and Marc Albrighton in the space of two minutes.

Eddie Howe's side has been very impressive in the opening five games of the season and has left his side in the 5th position, which would see themselves in the European competition at the end of the season; however, expectations of the Cherries' continental aspirations may be damaged due to the quality and the depth that the "top six" clubs have to offer. Howe's expectations at the club would be to steer clear of the relegation spots and offer the fans a mid-table finish come May 2019.

The recent acquisition of Diego Rico has seen a good improvement to the side's backline who conceded 61 goals last season, a 1.60 goal/per game conceding average with six clean sheets. Diego Rico was the club's second signing of the summer transfer window coming in for a reported £10.7 million. He made his home Premier League debut last weekend in the back line with central defenders Steve Cook and Nathan Ake and right back Adam Smith. Jefferson Lerma and David Brooks have also made a good start at the club, becoming regular first-team players within the 11, leaving a popular choice of Lewis Cook on the bench, showing the quality and depth which the Cherries have.

Although a European spot acquisition in the league may be unlikely, Bournemouth have proved to be strong in one cup competition, the Carabao Cup. Last season, Bournemouth were knocked out in the Quarter Final stage to fellow Premier League side Chelsea in a 2-1 affair. The Cherries scored a late equaliser from Dan Gosling that indicated the side towards an extra 30 minutes at the Bridge. But a switch off from Bournemouth showed poor positioning and marking and allowed the Blues to go up the other end and score through Eden Hazard just a minute later. I can see Bournemouth having a right push for cup success this season but have shown their lack of competitivity in the FA Cup where the side has been eliminated in the early rounds the last couple of seasons. Bournemouth face Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup at the Vitality Stadium on September 25 and are expected to claim a next round spot against the Championship side.

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