Well Gareth Southgate has certainly done me like a kipper! Having chosen to look at the performances of Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi and the reasons why they hadn’t been called up to the senior England squad, the news that Hudson-Odoi had been promoted from the Under 21’s due to withdrawals from the squad didn’t make for a great start to this series. The main part of that article was about how neither player has played enough pressurised minutes this season, something which certainly isn’t disproven by Hudson-Odoi’s promotion, though from a purely selfish perspective, the timing wasn’t great. Nevertheless, as an England supporter I’m hoping Hudson-Odoi makes a great impact if given the opportunity, and in a strange way, I’d love my timing to be proven to be poor for the main subject of this article, Lys Mousset.

Given that the tables for the highest Plus Minus ratings are currently being dominated by the top two clubs, Liverpool and Manchester City, you would perhaps expect those featuring the lowest Plus Minus ratings to be dominated by the bottom two, Fulham and Huddersfield. And yet whilst that is generally the case, top of the list for the worst Plus Minus rating per 90 minutes currently is Bournemouth striker Mousset. Mousset has also made 21 appearances this season without recording any positive ratings, putting him 5 appearances clear of the next closest player on that list, Newcastle United’s Joselu. Whilst somebody always has to be bottom of such lists, for Mousset to be bottom of both lists seems a little harsh, and indeed statistically improbable given that Bournemouth currently sit 12th in the table with 11 wins from 31 games so far. Mousset even scored on his only start this season, though as that came in a 5-1 defeat away to Arsenal, that game only worsened his statistics. Nevertheless, I’d love to see Mousset come off the bench away at Leicester City in Bournemouth’s next game and turn the game around for his side, as it feels like he is due an upturn in fortunes.

Yet whilst it would be foolish to rule out that scenario, if Mousset does start on the bench against Leicester (something which appears likely following Callum Wilson’s return to fitness), the statistics aren’t in his favour when it comes to turning the game around. When I was investigating how a player at a mid-table club had managed to achieve such poor Plus Minus ratings despite making regular appearances, it was clear that the problem did not lie with Mousset individually, but rather Bournemouth’s bench as a whole. When calculating the Plus Minus statistics, it is easy to spot when a substitution has altered the course of the match, either ‘successfully’ (a player coming on with their team either losing or drawing and recording a positive rating) or ‘unsuccessfully’ (a player coming on with their team either winning or drawing and recording a negative rating). Instances of this in Bournemouth matches seemed incredibly rare, occuring just 4 times so far this season (twice successfully, twice negatively). So, by way of comparison, I also looked at the other five clubs in Bournemouth’s ‘mini-league’; Wolves, Watford, West Ham, Leicester and Everton, who are currently separated by just 6 points from 7th to 12th. The table below summarises the impact substitutions have made at each club so far this season.

ClubNumber of Games Containing ‘Successful’ SubstitutionsPoints Gained Following ‘Successful’ SubstitutionsNumber of Games Containing ‘Unsuccessful’ SubstitutionsPoints Lost Following Unsuccessful SubstitutionsNet Points Gained/Lost Following Substitutions
Leicester City1011447
Wolverhampton Wanderers913576
West Ham United59663
A.F.C. Bournemouth23221

My suspicions turned out to be accurate, as the number of successful or unsuccessful substitutions by Bournemouth is much lower than any of the clubs around them in the table. On a positive note, Bournemouth have lost the fewest points following unsuccessful substitutions, so at least the bench is contributing positively in terms of defending what Bournemouth already have when they come on.

Nevertheless, the success or otherwise of substitutions has a clear impact on the Plus Minus per 90 minutes rankings at each of these clubs, particularly those who have generally experienced a positive change off the bench. Leicester’s rankings are topped by Shinji Okazaki, who has made just 1 start from 19 appearances so far this season, whilst Wolves’ rankings are topped by Leo Bonatini, whose 7 appearances all came off the bench. Meanwhile at West Ham, the top two are Samir Nasri (3 starts from 5 appearances) and Javier Hernandez (12 starts from 22 appearances).

Is this an area Eddie Howe needs to address in the Summer? Personally, I’m not convinced that it is. It should be noted that Bournemouth have comfortably the smallest budget of any of these 6 clubs, and therefore more than any of their rivals, cannot afford to spend big on squad players. Whilst the signing of Dominic Solanke would appear to go against this statement, it should be remembered that he is still only 21 and will be expected to be a regular first-team player over the course of his time at the club (and potentially may also have been lined up as an early replacement for either Wilson or Josh King, should either of that duo be sold in the Summer). If you have a smaller budget than your rivals, you have to ensure that as much of that budget is on the pitch at any one time in order to make up for that deficit, and the statistics suggest that Howe is doing that very well at the moment. Whether that will give Lys Mousset enough opportunities to break his unwanted streak before the end of the season however remains to be seen.