Bournemouth's performance in their 3-0 win over Swansea City on Dec. 31 was the perfect way to round off what has been a superb 2016 for the club. From front to back the entire team played excellently and judging by the performance it's a surprise that this is just the Cherries' second away win of the season.
Benik Afobe's 90 minutes serves as evidence to suggest his poor run of form is properly behind him now which is a great thing for the Cherries moving forward. His link-up play with Jack Wilshere, who had another superb game, was perfectly in-sync and Junior Stanislas also joined in on the act. It was a superb team showing all round and no matter who plays for Bournemouth the team chemistry and desire to work hard for each other is clear to see.
Although it was a better performance from captain Simon Francis, it's obvious to all that he really struggles at the Premier League level. His technical ability is average at best and while he does a job for the team, an upgrade in that area of the pitch would pay large dividends.
9 -- It was the correct team selection and Eddie Howe's trust in Afobe to lead the line is starting to pay off. Question marks remain over Francis' inclusion and perhaps Howe is lacking the confidence to drop his captain even though he should.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Artur Boruc, 6 -- The Poland international had little to do in fairness. His poor 50th minute attempt at punching away a corner was a reminder to stay switched on at all times even when there's little to do.
DF Simon Francis, 7 -- One of Francis' better performances this season and his crossing early on was effective in keeping Swansea penned back in their own half.
DF Nathan Ake, 8 -- Fantastic showing in the centre-back position and Ake is forming a decent partnership alongside Cook. His urgency to burst forward and play out from the back is exactly the sort of defender Howe likes so his permanent place in the side is becoming more of a certainty with each passing week.
DF Steve Cook, 8 -- The former Brighton defender was solid in the heart of defence alongside Ake yet again. Fernando Llorente did beat him in the air far too easily in the 22nd minute to fire a header goal wards, but apart from that Cook was on top form.
DF Charlie Daniels, 7 -- Swansea winger Nathan Dyer frequently caught Daniels out of position, most notably in the 12th minute, but he was very effective going forward. Still has work to do defensively and lacks pace.
MF Ryan Fraser, 7 -- Quick feet along the wing posed Swansea's full-backs constant problems. Not quite as impressive as his performance against Liverpool but he still ended up on the score sheet thanks to an easy tap in.
MF Jack Wilshere, 9 -- Gets better with every game and this performance was another reason why Arsenal should be looking forward to having Wilshere back next season. Has creativity in abundance and his vision, especially to pick out Stanislas in the 44th minute, is of the highest order.
MF Harry Arter, 8 -- Very comfortable on the ball, Arter is finding some of his earlier season form again. His constant energy and pressure in the midfield of the park were key to Bournemouth leaving the Liberty Stadium with three points.
MF Andrew Surman, 8 -- Sat so deep at times he looked like he was playing as a third centre-back. Surman was utilised well in this deeper role and another full game under his belt after his recent injury is pleasing.
MF Junior Stanislas, 7 -- Didn't start the game particularly well -- presumably down to rust after returning from injury-- but Stanislas grew into the match. His link-up play with Wilshere was fantastic and he even had a goal disallowed. Set piece delivery was dangerous as usual.
FW Benik Afobe, 8 -- Superb performance from Afobe which was complimented with a goal. He has the knack of being in the right place at the right time and if he can improve his finishing he will be a massive asset for the Cherries going forward.
MF Adam Smith, N/R -- Came on just after the 70-minute mark and did little to harm his reputation. Strong on the ball and was a useful substitute.
MF Josh King, N/R -- Added some fresh energy to the Bournemouth attack which played a role in confirming the clean sheet. Decent finish for the third and final goal.
MF Dan Gosling, N/R -- Came on for Surman in the 89th minute.