It was the weekend before All Hallows Eve, and the Premier League’s Matchweek 10 was ready to provide plenty of tricks and treats for soccer fans around the globe. The top three remained unbeaten, with Chelsea handily dispatching Burnley 4-0, Liverpool eviscerating Cardiff 4-1, and Man City beat Spurs 1-0. City scored early with a sixth minute strike from Riyad Mahrez, then locked Tottenham into a defensive sleeper hold, giving up on four shots, one on target over the ninety minutes. They also debuted the most frightening third kit I have ever seen. With the top of the league holding serve, I thought today we would look at two teams flying under the radar a bit, and one team’s unlooked for tragedy.
AFC Bournemouth, On the Move
Bournemouth made their Premier League debut three years ago and have settled nicely into the mid-table. They finished ninth and twelfth the last two seasons and appeared safe from relegation, eyeing one of those nifty Europa League spots maybe. Instead they have come out of the gates on fire. Homegrown manager Eddie Howe has led the Cherries to a 6-2-2 record with a +7 goal differential, 20 points and a nifty 6th place spot one behind Spurs and one ahead of equally scrappy Watford.
The Cherries attack is led by exciting forwards Callum Wilson and Joshua King, a pair of 26-year-olds in their prime, backed up by flashy Welsh midfielder David Brooks. Wilson tallied two scores and Brooks chipped in the clincher in this weeks 3-0 rout of struggling Fulham. It was their fourth away win in their last six away matches, a good sign for an upstart team, showing resilience and maturity.
The win over Fulham was typical for this years Bournemouth squad, a decisive win over a team below them. With the exception of a baffling 4-0 loss to Burnley, the Cherries have taken care of business against teams in and below their weight class. But they have had a really gentle schedule so far. A 2-0 loss to Chelsea is their only fixture against a top six side this year. That starts to change with visits from a rebounding Man U, surging Arsenal and a trip to Man City over the next month.
Brighton and Hove Albion, Fun at the Shore
Brighton and Hove Albion finished October unbeaten, with three 1-0 victories. It was the first three-match winning streak for the Seagulls in the top flight since the Thatcher era and made them the only team to snuffle up all nine points this month. Their win over Wolves this week moved them up to 11th on the table. With a -2 goal differential they don’t look as sexy as the Cherries, but they have also played a brutal schedule. After they stuck the kick me sign on United in week 2, they went through a rough stretch, with three losses to top six teams and some ugly draws against bottom feeders.
They do it with a fun mix of crusty veterans and exciting youngsters. 38-year-old defender Bruno assisted34-year-old Glenn Murray for Saturday’s winner. Murray had been carried off on a stretcher the week before versus Newcastle. Wingers Solly March and Anthony Knockaert are providing most of the forward movement, although the tough schedule may be obscuring just how much the pair can do.
Three in a row feels like momentum, and the Seagulls will head to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday to see if they can make it four and prove that they belong in present company.
A Tragedy in Leicester City
As soon as 21 year old Nigerian rising star Wilfred Ndidi’s 89th minute shocker completed the Foxes exciting comeback to draw 1-1 against the Hammers at King Power Stadium, I knew I wanted to do a deep dive into a team that has been a bit of an afterthought since their surprise championship run. And I will get to that… but later.
An hour after the game on Saturday, a helicopter carrying team owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, two of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, and the pilot Eric Swaffer and his partner Izabela Roza Lechowicz, crashed after what was described as an “awkward takeoff.” There were no survivors of the fiery disaster just outside the stadium.
The Foxes Tuesday night Carabao Cup fixture was postponed, but their November 3rd match at Cardiff will proceed as planned. Players across the league will wear black armbands. Richard Scudamore, the Premier League Executive Chairman, issued this statement…
“My Premier League colleagues and I are devastated to learn that Leicester City FC Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people lost their lives in the helicopter crash outside King Power Stadium last night,” said Scudamore.
“Our deepest condolences and heartfelt thoughts go to the Srivaddhanaprabha family and all the relatives and friends of those involved in this tragic accident.
“Vichai was a gentleman who graced the game with his civility and charm and we will miss him enormously. His impact on Leicester – the football club and city – will be remembered for ever.”
The club opened up King Power Stadium Tuesday so that the city could gather and sign a book of condolences. You can sign the online book here.
The chairman was credited by his players for turning the team around and making the 2015/16 Championship season possible. And in a world where we often seen the worst that wealth can bring a man to, Mr. Srivaddhanaprabha was a true gentleman who loved his adopted city and was a true philanthropist. Not just the Premier League, but all of sport has lost a good man. Under his guidance Leicester City showed the world how inspiring, illuminating, how glorious sport can be.
“From our Haus to Yours”