CHERRIES continued their fine form with victory over Crystal Palace, stretching their unbeaten run to five games on the spin.

A first clean sheet in four games was a welcome sign as a thoroughly professional performance delivered all three points for the Cherries over the Eagles for the second time this season.

Rising to 11th and with eyes higher up the table, we have taken a look at some of the talking point from last night’s game.

Desired improvement in home form found

Bournemouth Echo: Dean Henderson tipped over Philip Billing's headerBefore this run of four home games, there was a lot of talk about Cherries’ fortunes at Vitality Stadium.

Cherries had taken 13 points from 12 league fixtures at Dean Court prior but have almost doubled that tally with 10 from their last four, a draw with Sheffield United preventing a maximum return.

Improving the home form has been a focus of Iraola’s, and whilst this run has arguably come against weaker opponents, Cherries still had to work hard for their points.

After salvaging a draw against Sheffield United, an even more impressive comeback against Luton Town earned another three points just before the international break.

The victory over Everton at the weekend was not straightforward, taking a detour at the end, but last night’s win was a far more comfortable affair.

Restricted to just three shots, the Eagles’ expected goals (xG) of 0.11 was their lowest in a Premier League game this campaign.

Versatile Cook and brick wall Zabarnyi 

Bournemouth Echo: That last stat was in part to Cherries’ approach at the back, which featured central-midfielder Lewis Cook in the heart of defence.

It probably was not Iraola’s ideal plan, but with Chris Mepham absent due to illness, the Basque turned to Cook to moonlight as a centre-half after his FA Cup exploits in the position.

The former Leeds United man’s ability to spray balls over the top highlighted why Iraola wanted him there.

Cook’s positioning and willingness to get stuck in also lend themselves to the role, but his lack of height is certainly atypical of a centre-back.

With the towering Jean-Philippe Mateta leading the line for Palace, there was potentially the fear that the striker would target Cook in the air.

However, lllia Zabarnyi was tasked with keeping close tabs on the Frenchman, nullifying his physical and aerial advantage over Cook.

Instead, Cook’s target was Eberechi Eze – and aside from a goal ruled out for offside that saw Mateta set up a chance for Eze, the Cherries pair came out on top of their little duel with their marking assignments.

Zabarnyi was a brick wall throughout the contest, a highlight his goal-saving tackle to deny Eze at close range.

Cook’s versatility was further exemplified in the second half, when he returned to his natural midfield.

Throughout the final 45 minutes Cook showed his connection with Adam Smith, frequently dropping into right-back as the veteran defender drifted centrally.

Local man not very happy on return

Bournemouth Echo: Despite disappointment over Jefferson Lerma deciding to leave in the summer, the Colombian’s return to Vitality Stadium felt fairly warm.

Some described the free transfer move to Crystal Palace as a sideways step, and that argument was strengthened as Cherries completed a league double over the Eagles.

Like Cook, Lerma was deployed as a centre-back despite being a natural midfielder.

He reminded the Cherries faithful of his quality, and his combative nature was on show.

After Antoine Semenyo caught Eze in the second period, there was a little bit of handbags as Lerma showed the Ghanaian that his loyalty now lies with his new team.

On the cusp of securing safety

Victory over Palace not only lifted Cherries higher up the Premier League table, but it also means that they are closer to the Champions League spots (18 points) to the relegation zone (19 points).

In fact, Cherries could guarantee mathematical safety with seven games to spare if they manage to beat Luton Town on Saturday.

That is even if the Hatters defeat Arsenal later this evening, with victory for Cherries at Kenilworth at the weekend lifting them to 44.

Luton will have six matches remaining, and even with three points against the Gunners, the most the Hatters will be able to finish on is 43.

Either way, Cherries will feel pretty safe at this stage – which would have seemed farfetched to say the least when they waited 10 games for a first league win of the season.