Bournemouth's latest 2-0 defeat to Middlesbrough should be treated as a blip and nothing more in what has been a successful season to date.
The Cherries were always at risk of damage after a long tiring trip north to an intimidating Riverside Stadium and they were unlucky to come away with nothing from the game. Next up are struggling Sunderland at home and given Bournemouth's other recent performances, this is surely an easy victory and a chance to bounce back.
Full-back Charlie Daniels stated he has to take blame -- or credit, depending on how you look at it -- for Jordon Ibe's start to his Bournemouth career. The club's record £15 million signing has had minimal impact on the south coast so far but his performance against Boro was a slight improvement. Whenever given the ball, he looked threatening, but poor decision making combined with a lack of quality in and around the penalty area has limited his productivity. He needs work on the training pitch but Daniels thinks he has a role to play in bettering Ibe's performances.
Eddie Howe has always liked attacking full-backs, which is what Daniels is. He charges forward constantly which sometimes leaves the team defensively exposed. Ibe has never particularly been a hard worker in defence either, but despite the two goals conceded against Boro, it looked like this could be about to change. The duo are still working out how to fit in alongside each other's style of play but their Boro showing was a sign it's improving as Ibe was often seen on the edge of his own box.
Daniels' fellow defenders Steve Cook and Simon Francis will have a unique challenge this weekend in having to take care of Jermain Defoe, who will lead the Sunderland line. He may not have the electric pace of five years ago, but timing beats speed and his game-reading ability with regards to when to make the correct run is still ever-present. His finishing is still lethal so restricting his space in the attacking third is vital and Artur Boruc will need to be alert at all times.
Further up the team sheet, question marks remain over Dan Gosling's position at the club. He labelled his bit-part role as "very frustrating and very challenging mentally" and despite also admitting he has a good relationship with Howe, questions persist over how long he's going to want to stay at the Vitality Stadium if he's not playing regularly. It's hard to see how Gosling will dislodge Andrew Surman, Harry Arter or Jack Wilshere in the centre of the park at the moment so perhaps the midfielder's days on the south coast could be numbered due to a lack of first team football.
Wilshere arguably had his best performance in a Bournemouth shirt against Middlesbrough and fans will be keen to see if he can replicate this performance against Sunderland. The accuracy of his medium and long range passing was world class and he repeatedly found space in behind Callum Wilson in attack. He split the Boro back four on occasion and it is this extra creative edge which can help the Cherries push on further this season.
It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see Wilshere having to find Josh King up front instead of Wilson this weekend. The latter had a poor game by his standards against Aitor Karanka's men, while fellow forward King continued his decent form on the wing. Howe may opt for the Norway international to lead the line instead of Wilson, a decision he also made for the Manchester City fixture so it wouldn't be a huge surprise. Sunderland centre-back Papy Djilobodji stands at an intimidating height of 6-foot-4 (1.9 metres) and is unlikely to be beaten for physicality, so opting for King's more terrier-like running and electric pace could prove a better option.
The Bournemouth team remains in good shape ahead of the Sunderland clash and everyone on the south coast will be confident of three points on Saturday. Form at the Vitality Stadium is decent, taking 10 points from a possible 15, which bodes well and Wilshere's better form could play a pivotal role.
This is exactly the sort of fixture that the Arsenal loanee, and even record-signing Ibe, should be looking to make a real statement after a slow but steady start to the season.