NATHAN Ake believes Cherries are heading in the right direction defensively.

The Dorset club have conceded just three times in their past five top-flight outings, compared with 11 shipped in their opening six fixtures.

And centre-half Ake, who has featured in all of his side's Premier League encounters this season, believes there has been a vast improvement in recent weeks.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think we are defending much better.

“We are trying to block everything and we are throwing ourselves in front of goal.”

Ake tops Cherries’ list for headed clearances in the league this season, with 43 in total.

Steve Cook, the goalscoring hero in the 1-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday, has made the most blocks for the club, with 13.

Having soaked up some early pressure against Rafa Benitez’s men last time out, 22-year-old Ake was delighted to have sealed a second top-flight clean sheet of the campaign.

He added: “The win was big for us and the clean sheet was big as well.

“Cookie helped me being next to him, we had a good partnership and it worked well. As a whole defensive unit we did well.”