Norwich City blew a great opportunity to go five points clear of the hosts but were easily beaten on the day.
The big talking point in the week was obviously Lewis Grabban, but the former City striker didn’t even make the Cherries’ bench. Eddie Howe said he woke up this morning feeling ill but he was at the ground to watch the game.
A gentleman’s agreement not to play him? Possibly, but it’s just as well he didn’t, he’d have probably scored, we were that bad.
In the run, up it wasn’t so much a ‘must win’ for either side but it was certainly a ‘must not lose.’
This was a very worrying performance from the Canaries. A performance that lacked passion, urgency or dare I say it, effort, right from the off.
The game kicked off with Bournemouth on top and stayed that way for the whole 95 minutes. City looked leggy, tired and generally out of sorts. If you’re wondering how bad it actually was, then think Newcastle or Watford away.
Marc Pugh easily beat Russell Martin and crossed for Dan Gosling, who headed simply past Rudd from eight yards without a challenge on him.
Bournemouth seemed to be shouting for a penalty every five minutes as they probed the Norwich penalty area. Russell Martin was lucky to get away with a pull on Charlie Daniels and Declan Rudd was lucky to still be on the pitch after he cleaned Afobe out on the edge of the area.
Afobe was put clean through between the City centre backs who were nowhere near him. Rudd came racing off his line and a yard outside the area tried to clear the ball. Afobe just nicked it forwards and Rudd sent Afobe four feet up in the air.
As the home crowd bayed for red, Mr Madely inexplicably produced only the yellow card. Yes, two City defenders were getting back but even so. It was a stone wall red card – Declan was a lucky boy.
No changes were made for the second half, which was slightly strange as City had been second best to everything. Hoolahan was having one of those games he just couldn’t get into. The type of game that we have no Plan B for – Steven Naismith, anyone?
Vadis effectively ended the game for Norwich when he pulled Pugh back in the City area (he went down like he’d been shot), leaving Mr Madely no option but to give a penalty which the excellent Daniels dispatched.
The immediate response was the introduction of Redmond and Jerome for Vadis and Jarvis but it made little difference.
There was still time for Benik Afobe to score his first goal in Bournemouth colours against the club who coveted him so much last summer.
Daniels provided the assist as he crossed for Afobe to score with a first time effort that again left Rudd with no chance.
This was a terrible performance against a close rival. I think it was even worse than Newcastle and Watford. There were times in those two games when we had spells of being on top. Here, that just never happened.
We were beaten in every single department. Once again, Norwich defended abysmally. Bennett and especially Bassong looked way off the pace and Brady just looked like he was knackered. Russell Martin though had another shocker.
I happen to think he is the best of our right back choices, prior to the arrival of Pinto. Alex neil has clearly seen this as a weak area and recruited some new blood there. If he’s any good at all, he will be replacing Martin very soon.
Robbie Brady, so often Mr Reliable was also beaten far too often, just like Martin in the wide areas.
Timm Klose or whoever we sign for central defence, won’t have much of a problem becoming first choice either. I’d be dropping Bassong and partnering him with Ryan Bennett, who incidentally isn’t a Premier League defender either.
The midfield didn’t give much cover though and were easily by passed by a slick organised Bournemouth, who were ready from the moment the first whistle blew.
We were as bad here as they were when they came to Carrow Road in September.
How Neil must rue not making Afobe his priority. The former Wolves man easily held off Bennett and Bassong on several occasions to bring his team mates into play with nice lay offs and he took his goal well.
Will we sign a striker better than Afobe in this window? I somehow doubt it.
Next up is a home game in front of the BT Sport cameras against Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime. Much will depend on how we react to this defeat and which Liverpool turns up. If it’s the side that drew with Arsenal then we’re in trouble.
I don’t know about you but this defeat is very, very depressing.