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How Antonio Conte sank a hole in Bournemouth’s ship

Wednesday 8th February 2017
Chelsea is having a season to remember with Antonio Conte bulldozing his way to his first domestic title in English football. However, a decision by the Italian manager has dealt a massive blow to the survival chances of another Premier League side.

Bournemouth had been impressive by their standards for at least the first half of this season, the Cherries had bounced back from a poor start and had begun the rigorous climb, up the Premier League table – but over the past few games, it does look like something had snapped for Eddie Howe's team – the Cherries are on a downward spiral that simply can't be ignored anymore.

My firm belief is that Bournemouth's woes can be traced back to when one man was plucked from the team by league leaders, Chelsea. Wondering who that man was? He's none other than Nathan Ake. Antonio Conte had phoned the youngster informing him that his services were in immediate demand at his parent club, Chelsea.
Ake, had little choice but to leave Bournemouth, a team with which he had begun to enjoy some good football and head back to London – his loan spell brought to an abrupt end!

Antonio Conte's excuse for halting the youngster's development with the Cherries was that he needed reinforcement for his back three – Conte was quoted as saying:
"Ake gives me important options because we are playing with three central defenders…"He can play on the left and in the middle. Also, it's important to see during training if he can play as a wingback. I wanted to bring back Ake because he gives me a good opportunity, good solutions.”
No questions asked, Ake is Chelsea's asset and they have a 100% right to him, however, taking him away from Bournemouth was a no-brainer! His playing time will be greatly reduced with the Blues, without a doubt.

Chelsea probably never imagined how important Ake was to Bournemouth until the Cherries began making frantic efforts to get back their man – the Blues must have been surprised if not shocked when Bournemouth tabled a £18 million bid for Nathan Ake – that could easily have been a club record fee.

Chelsea, however, rebuffed Bournemouth's offer and choose to cling tightly to Ake – obviously on Conte's orders. But since his return to Chelsea, Ake has rarely featured for the Blues, his only start, coming in the FA cup win against Brentford.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth is yet to win a game since Ake's departure – three Premier League defeats, a 3-nil thrashing in the FA cup by lowly Millwall and a 2-2 draw at home to Watford have characterised the five games since Ake left the Cherries. That poor form has seen Bournemouth slip from 9th in the Premier League to 14th.

Eddie Howe's back four has been a total mess since they lost Ake – it looks like a sizable hole has been sunk in Bournemouth's ship and the vessel is sinking ever so rapidly.

Eddie Howe bemoaned Ake's departure when he said:
Nathan's exit is disappointing because he had done so well, was producing consistent performances and improving with every game. To lose him after that work is disappointing, but Chelsea has every right to do that.”
Sadly, Antonio Conte has pulled the rug from Eddie Howe's feet because he has the right to do so in this case. If Bournemouth fails to avoid the drop this season, they must look back at the point when they lost Nathan Ake (and their failure to sign a suitable replacement) as the turning point for them.
Kingsley Ukpai

Kingsley is a football aficionado who craves to read, watch, play and write about the greatest team sport ever known to man. If you're talking football he'll be keen to listen to what you have to say. Loves to play Fantasy Football too.

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