AFC Bournemouth’s acquisition of Harry Wilson on a season-long loan from Liverpool earlier this summer appears to be a good deal for the player and both clubs involved. After a season of notable progression in the Championship with Derby County last season, the Welsh international deservedly earned a loan move to a Premier League side for the 2019/20 campaign.
Whilst many football fans associate Wilson with an ability to score from distance, there are many more attributes to his game. So much so that he was named Bournemouth’s Player of the Month for August in his first real opportunity of Premier League football.
In this tactical analysis, we will be providing a comprehensive scout report on the 22-year-old attacking midfielder.
Within Bournemouth’s flexible attacking line-up this season, Wilson has been at the centre of many attacking situations. His involvement in attacking situations has made him a crucial player in the Cherries’ side in the early part of the Premier League campaign.
With such attacking involvement, it is clear that Eddie Howe values Wilson’s technical ball-playing qualities. In order to get the very best from Wilson, he has been deployed in an attacking position that gives him multiple options in a fast-paced attack. Below, against Leicester City, Wilson’s 95% pass accuracy showed him to be one of Bournemouth’s most influential attackers.
With the likes of Ryan Fraser, Joshua King and Callum Wilson in support (as shown above), Wilson is surrounded by significant attacking options. Subsequently, these options result in having to choose the decisive pass at the right time. Despite having failed to assist in his opening three Premier League matches, it would be fair to predict that the 22-year-old will get a significant number of assists this season if this attacking involvement is continued.
Furthermore, as a loan player, much of Wilson’s development at Bournemouth this season will be of interest to Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. His parent club will be eager to see how Wilson continues his development, having stepped up from last season’s loan at Championship side Derby County. Therefore, through the attacking involvement illustrated above, Wilson’s development at Bournemouth will most likely suit his chances of breaking into Liverpool’s team. Most notably, the fast-paced environment of the Cherries’ attack is fairly similar to Liverpool’s most used 4-3-3 formation.
In order to play in an expansive formation such as Bournemouth’s, attackers are expected to be able to take up several attacking positions. So far this season, Wilson has been given the license to pick up pockets of space in between defensive lines. This showcases the Welsh international’s positional awareness which is undoubtedly one of his strongest qualities.
As already discussed, the 22-year-old is a key player in Bournemouth’s attacking output. But what is most crucial in allowing such involvement is the attacker’s positional awareness. In order to create sufficient attacking situations, his ability to get into threatening positions is most crucial.
As shown above, he has the awareness the get in between the defensive lines of Manchester City. However, the position in which he receives the ball here is only noteworthy if he has the awareness to continue the attacking phase. As a result, the fact that he is aware of the space in the centre of pitch shows that he is useful in attacking situations. This proves most valuable for a team like Bournemouth who have fast attacking players on the last line of defence ready to be provided with the ball.
Furthermore, versus Leicester City (above), the Welsh attacker is able to pick up a dangerous attacking position – this time in a later phase of attack that could create a goal-scoring opportunity. Despite Fraser opting to ignore the option of Wilson, the Welshman shows good awareness in picking up a threatening attacking position.
Overall, Wilson’s positional awareness proves useful in a number of attacking situations. As shown in the previous two images, he is both useful in building an attack in between defensive lines and identifying open space. His awareness as well to occupy goal-scoring positions within 20 yards of goal illustrates a strength in creating chances.
To lead on from the analysis of his positional awareness in attacking positions, Wilson’s goal-scoring abilities combine well with such technical awareness. As shown already at his time at Bournemouth, he has the capability of scoring goals from long-range, both in-play and from set-pieces. That is best illustrated by the fact that he has three shots from outside the box in the Premier League this season, two of which have resulted in goals.
Wilson’s free-kick goal versus Manchester City highlighted one of the attacker’s greatest traits. He has become renowned for his free-kick taking ability even at this early stage of his career, and he will want to continue that in the Premier League. Therefore, given that he managed to score against Ederson – one the Premier League’s best goalkeepers – indicates an impressive start to the season.
Furthermore, as shown below, his goal against Aston Villa from long-range shows that he can also do it from open play. The attacker hits the ball from range and is slightly fortunate for the ball to deflect in off of the post, but shows great ability in creating the chance.
By circling Wilson’s amount of space above, it illustrates that he is given much more room than Aston Villa would want- especially given his reputation of scoring from long-range. Therefore, whilst Wilson clearly has the ability to score from range, this may be something he has to work harder to execute against more defensively sound teams in the league.
As a Liverpool academy graduate, the 22-year-old is a player that has the instinct to press the opposition in their defensive third. This is a key principle of Klopp’s Liverpool, and Wilson has already shown signs of using those qualities as a Bournemouth player.
Much of Liverpool’s decision to loan the Welsh international to Bournemouth would have been due to Howe’s style of play. As well as the aforementioned aspects of Wilson’s game that fit Bournemouth’s and Liverpool’s tactics, pressing very much suits the mould of the south coast team too.
More specifically, the fast-paced nature of Bournemouth’s front-line means that Wilson’s ability to press high up the pitch has worked well already this season. Below, we see that Manchester City have the opportunity to clear the ball. However, with Oleksandr Zinchenko losing the flight of the ball, Wilson’s anticipation to dispossess the left-back in Manchester City’s final third is highly effective.
Given the nature of Manchester City’s defence, Wilson fails to eventually find a decisive pass. Nevertheless, the very fact that he is able to anticipate upcoming phases of play showcases an impressive aspect of his game. This trait may not often be associated with the Welshman, but his continued development under Klopp, and now Howe, highlights that he is adding different dimensions to his game.
Goals on social media from Wilson show him to be a long-range specialist, but his game has the potential to turn into much more than that. Indeed, his capability to find the back of the net from long distance is impressive. However, we must also understand that he has the positional awareness that can make this a more regular occurrence.
If the Welsh international is able to fulfil his potential in the aforementioned sections we have highlighted, he could be given an opportunity to feature in Liverpool’s first team in years to come.
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