Everton’s start to the season had been so impressive I had a nagging feeling somebody, somewhere was waiting to trip them up.
This is Everton after all, we seemingly aren’t allowed nice things. So it is typical of the Toffees that after making their best start to a season in nearly 40 years they go and get humped by Norwich reserves.
That was the Everton we know and love, but also hate and are sick and tired of as well.
Ronald Koeman will have certainly learnt a thing or two about his squad on Tuesday, namely that beyond his first choice starting XI there isn’t a lot there.
Koeman made six changes to the team on Tuesday night but none of them emerged with any real credit. It was a woeful performance against a Championship side that made 10 changes themselves.
Mason Holgate and Aaron Lennon perhaps deserve to escape criticism because of previous good form while Enner Valencia is a new signing and deserves time. Ramiro Funes Mori (pushed out to left-back admittedly) Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu though will have done little to influence their manager’s first choice team selection.
It means we should see a return to the line-up that has served Koeman so well in his opening five league games.
I just hope Tuesday’s defeat hasn’t struck any lasting psychological damage and indeed prompts a response from those determined to prove that Everton’s start isn’t a fluke.
After a highly credible 16th place finish in their maiden Premier League season (a position that was much more comfortable than it sounds) Bournemouth look to be coming down with a severe case of second season syndrome.
The Cherries are just one point outside of the relegation zone with one win and one draw to their credit so far this campaign.
Mike’s excellent video analysis has highlighted the problems they have faced this season (I urge you to check it out, after you’ve read this obviously), namely a severe lack of creativity in central areas and therefore a reliable goalscoring threat.
The south coast side have scored a joint-league low three goals in their five games so far and joined Everton in being dumped out of the EFL Cup in midweek
They were certainly eclectic in the transfer market this summer; bringing in talented young players like Lewis Cook from Leeds, vastly overpaying for Jordon Ibe from Liverpool before loaning walking sicknote Jack Wilshere from Arsenal.
Their biggest boost was perhaps the return to fitness of striker Callum Wilson, who missed much of last campaign with a serious knee injury.
Despite their patchy start (which in mitigation has included games against both Manchester clubs) manager Eddie Howe remains one of the brightest young talents in the game.
The 38-year-old was even linked with the Everton job over the summer, though much of that could have been down to the fact he was a boyhood Everton fan.
Howe is not going to panic despite the indifferent start and he has cultivated a side that possesses great spirit even if it lacks quality in places.
That spirit was ably demonstrated in last season’s league meeting between the two sides.
In one of the matches of the season - and a result that sparked the beginning of the end of Roberto Martinez - Bournemouth rallied from 2-0 down in the final ten minutes to level, before equalising again in the 98th minute seconds after Ross Barkley had seemingly won the game in stoppage-time.
Everton gained revenge by beating Bournemouth in the FA Cup two months later as well as the return league meeting in April.
However, I still feel Everton have some more ghosts to exorcise if they are to put that disastrous November afternoon truly behind them.
Romelu Lukaku missed Tuesday’s EFL Cup defeat with a foot injury but was due to resume full training on Friday and is expected to return to the starting XI.
The likes of Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry and Yannick Bolasie are also expected to return after being rested in midweek.
James McCarthy and Darron Gibson remain sidelined with groin injuries.
The Norwich result has suddenly placed greater importance on Saturday’s game at the Vitality Stadium.
If Everton are to compete for a European place they need to take advantage of their relatively kind fixture list - and that means winning their next two matches before the trip to Man City at the start of next month.
Given the two team’s form it’s a game Everton are more than capable of winning, but I said that about Tuesday.
This is the first true test of Koeman’s man-management skills and his ability to lift a team after such a disappointing setback in midweek.
Predicted starting XI: Stekelenberg, Baines, Jagielka, Williams, Coleman, Barry, Gueye, Mirallas, Barkley, Bolasie, Lukaku.