The undefeated start to the 2016-17 Premier League season for Everton is no more. On Saturday, they lost to Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium. It was a game in which the Cherries dominated all aspects and the Toffees failed to ever really challenge the opposition.
Chance creation was a real struggle for Everton. Their best opportunity came off a free kick in the 10th minute. Ross Barkley sent a perfect ball into the box and found a wide open Romelu Lukaku. The big Belgian met the delivery with his head and it seemed destined for the back of the net. But goalkeeper Artur Boruc stuck out his right paw to swat it away. All around, it was great play: superb free kick, nicely aimed header and a phenomenal save. That would prove to be the only time Boruc was needed all game.
Barkley had a header chance of his own in the second half, but the ball was closer to his body and he had to bend down to redirect it. Of course, he still should have put the shot on goal. Instead, it was wide right.
Bournemouth always looked like the more dangerous side, hitting the woodwork twice in the opening 45 minutes. But it was their man Junior Stanislas who scored against Everton AGAIN! This time in the 23rd minute.
Stanislas goal vs Everton.— Tony Scott (@Tony_Scott11) September 24, 2016
Everton are still in bed. pic.twitter.com/gNFf4cgMe7
It came when Stanislas had oodles of space in which to operate. Harry Arter gave him the ball and all he had to do was take a touch or two and then unleash a shot from outside the box. He did so and buried it in the back of the net. Stanislas deserves all the credit, but where was Bryan Oviedo? He certainly wasn’t contesting the shot as he should have been. It’s a lot easier to score when you have all the time in the world to set up the shot.
Junior Stanislas has scored 4 goals in the Premier League since he joined Bournemouth - 3 of them have been against Everton. #BOUEVE— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) September 24, 2016
The left side of the defense was a mess at the start of the game. Oviedo was filling in for the injured Leighton Baines and it showed. Bournemouth attacked that side of the pitch early and often and center back Ashley Williams didn’t do much to help it as he seemed overwhelmed at times too.
But the bigger problem may have been the midfield. Gareth Barry was playing with a knock and always seemed a tad off. Meanwhile, Idrissa Gueye looked pedestrian for the first time all season. And Ross Barkley was pretty bad once again, losing the ball too easily and giving away poor passes.
One could go on all day about the poor play of Everton. Yes, it was not a good day for them. But Bournemouth was the reason it was a bad day. It felt like the Cherries players where everywhere, they just didn’t get tired. Later in the game, they allowed Everton some possession and, while doing so, got into a strong defensive shape to pretty any real chances. This was an impressive showing for the home team and shows why their manager Eddie Howe is so highly regarded. It’s clear they had a gameplan and executed it to perfection.
That said, it is one game. Including the EFL Cup loss, it is one week or poor football. As we have all discussed, this opening slate of games had left Everton seeming like they are a lot better than they actually are. However, this is still a good team. Don’t go freaking out because of one week. These are the early days of Ronald Koeman’s process. Relax, let him figure out what to do with his team and judge him after they have played a half-season or so. For now, it was a crappy day for football. But there will be better ones.
Next up is a visit from Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Friday evening and then a two-week hiatus.
Even in losses, we still want to hear how you rate the Everton players. Click anywhere on this paragraph to get over to our “Man of the Match” poll.