It was a similar start to the Everton at West Bromwich Albion game. Both sides started slowly and the opening 15 minutes are barely worth mentioning as neither side even threatened the opposition goal. However it wasn’t long before Bournemouth woke up and Callum Wilson was almost gifted the opening goal as his energy proved too much for the sluggish centre back pairing of Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka. The ball bounced in front of Keane and Wilson easily turned him before gliding past Jagielka who stuck out a lazy leg. The ball was at an awkward height for Wilson however he managed to get a shot away but it was right at Jordan Pickford and he managed to push it away.
Everton offered next to nothing in the first period with the extent of their attacking play a few hopeful long balls toward Aaron Lennon and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. DCL played his usual role of the totally isolated young striker with no support and none of the physical attributes required to play the lone striker role. As limited as our striking options are its amazing three managers have now opted to deploy him in a role he is obviously not suited to in any way.
Former Liverpool man Jordon Ibe tested Pickford just before the half hour mark, twisting and firing one in low but the keeper pushed it away. However Ibe would be involved shortly after, with more success, as Bournemouth took the lead. The returning James McCarthy played a poor pass backwards which was pounced on by Wilson. He slipped in Ibe who crossed first time for Ryan Fraser to brilliantly hook it home. Everton had come to Bournemouth, yes Bournemouth, and parked the bus...as hard as that is to swallow that goal at least meant a change of approach was in order.
The reaction was tame to say the least as we wasted a couple of corners and had a few limp counter attacks but it was the usual abject attacking display and the first half ended with a whimper. A pattern is beginning to emerge with our first half displays, a lack of ambition and enthusiasm is seeing teams get the upper hand from the off leaving us to wait until late on to mount any type of attempt to win the game. It was poor viewing in the first half and it didn’t get much better in second period.
Wayne Rooney replaced McCarthy at the break, not only was it a baffling decision to start him but the fact he was put in with three other defensive midfielders really does boggle the mind. He had no effect on the game other than providing the home side with the opening goal and was deservedly hooked off. Rooney certainly improved us up front with his class and vision allowing us more time on the ball however there is only so much one man can do.
Not long after the break Oumar Niasse entered the fray in place of the ineffective DCL and his energy added yet more threat to the attack. The Senegalese forward was involved not long after in Everton’s leveller. Simon Francis played a poor ball out from the back which was intercepted by Gylfi Sigurdsson. He played the ball into Niasse who cleverly laid the ball off for his compatriot Idrissa Gueye and he slammed his effort home to get the Blues back on level terms. A goal for us to kick on from, to go for the win? Not a chance, we sat back once more looking to hold on to that “precious” point and it cost us dearly.
Wilson gave a sign of what was to come as Francis played a one-two down the right, easily gliding past Sigurdsson, before crossing to Wilson who side footed an effort destined for the bottom corner but Pickford got down superbly to add another save to his highlight reel. The Cherries continued to stretch Everton with searching balls and dangerous crosses. They were playing exactly how we should have been, with purpose, attacking intent and a will to win the game.
Yannick Bolasie was introduced as, finally, with 15 minutes to go we did what we should have done from the off and began to try and win the game. The Blues had a great chance to win it as the game became stretched as Niasse received a long ball from the back. He held it up well before slipping in Sigurdsson who was through on goal only for his first touch to let him down and allow Nathan Ake to make a crucial tackle.
The game had become scrappy but it would be Bournemouth’s tenacity and fearlessness that would hand them all 3 points as left back Adam Smith bounded forward, shrugging off Jonjoe Kenny before feeding Fraser. The Scotsman cut inside and drilled a ball at goal which looped up off a combination of Keane and Jagielka and sailed over Pickford and into the back of the net.
And that my friends is exactly what you deserve for going to sides we should be beating and sitting back. It is unacceptable no matter which way you spin it for a club like Everton, who has spent millions in the summer and have a squad Bournemouth and West Brom must look at with envy, to go to these relegation fodder sides and park the bus up, looking to escape with a point. I give all the credit in the world to Big Sam for how he has organised what was a pathetic defence however these negative tactics will not fly for long with the oh so demanding Evertonian’s.
Bournemouth showed today that a bit of energy and belief goes a long way and if the team all pull together and attempt to win a game, you can get results against sides you’re not expected to. Allardyce’s first defeat comes at the worst possible time with Manchester United followed by another trip to Anfield up next. The supporters will hope to see a vastly improved showing in these games after the frankly quite poor Christmas servings.