Will Bournemouth stay up? Cherries earn another point to stay unbeaten against non-big-six sides

AFC Bournemouth earned another important point on Saturday as the Cherries continue their quest to defy almost all preseason predictions and stay up in the Premier League this season.

Bournemouth held Ivan Toney and sometimes free-scoring Brentford without a goal, earning their third clean sheet of the season. The Cherries haven’t allowed a goal from open play since going down 2-0 in the first half against Nottingham Forest, and responding with three second-half goals for a 3-2 win.

We’re now eight games into the season, and despite having an opening schedule from hell, having played Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool in consecutive weeks, Bournemouth has nine points and sits 12th in the table.

The Cherries have yet to lose to a team other than those three juggernauts, having beaten Aston Villa and Forest, and drawn with Wolves, Newcastle and Brentford. Despite what almost every pundit predicted before the season, Bournemouth looks as if it belongs in the league, and though it’s only October 1, looks like it might be sticking around for a little while.

Bournemouth has been solid defensively (outside of that 9-0 aberration against a desperate Liverpool side), and haven’t let teams in their “league” (the non-Arsenal, City, Liverpool teams) score much. They’ve packed it in, and if the result is a boring game like the 0-0 draws they’ve seen out against Wolves and Brentford at home, they’re fine with that.

Interim manager Gary O’Neil remains unbeaten since taking over after Scott Parker’s sacking. Despite an imminent ownership change with American and Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley set to take the helm soon, O’Neil deserves to see his run continue. He’s getting the most out of his side, has instilled them with confidence, and has them playing a style that can keep them up.

Foley, who knows a thing or two about instant success (his Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence) should take a lesson from his NHL franchise and ride the wave. There will be always be an opportunity when the club slumps or starts losing the kind of games it had been winning, to bring in your own manager. But it doesn’t make sense to sack someone when they’re getting results just because you’re new and you want to make your mark. (See: Todd Boehly at Chelsea).

The next six weeks will be crucial for Bournemouth, as they take on Leicester, Fulham, Southampton, West Ham, Tottenham and Leeds. The Cherries will head into five of those games feeling as though they’ve got a legitimate shot to win.

If Bournemouth can hold their own against Leicester, who’s struggling mightily, Fulham, who have come back to Earth a little bit after a tremendous start, coastal rivals Southampton and relatively recently-promoted Leeds, they’ll have a real shot to avoid being pulled into a relegation battle before Christmas.

Then, there’s a World Cup break and for all intents and purposes a second season– where momentum will have to be started once again, and where current form will mean next to nothing.

Barring the kind of devastating injuries Bournemouth suffered when it was relegated in 2020, this team looks like one that could stay in the league, and start to build with a new owner, and potentially return to its status as a secure club in the league, as it was when it hung around England’s elite from 2015-20.

This club has earned its place in the top flight, and it seems to have the talent, tactical approach and willpower to settle into the middle of the table.

And, unlike what almost every pundit was saying before the season, they’ve got a real shot to stay up.

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