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Pressing the reset button - Everton hoping for fresh start against Bournemouth

Everton’s nightmarish opening to the season is over - but now the pressure is on to get results

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Evertonians finally got a reminder of what it is like to win a football match with Wednesday’s 3-0 Carabao Cup victory against Sunderland.

It was the first time Everton had even scored in nearly a month let alone tasted victory, with their daunting fixture list providing the kind of results we all feared when they were first announced back in June.

The hope is that Wednesday’s win can be something of a watershed moment and a line can be drawn under what has been a difficult few weeks.

Before we look forward there must be a final look back at last weekend’s result at Old Trafford.

The final scoreline was incredibly harsh on the Toffees, who at least showed some fighting spirit after some limp recent performances.

The late capitulation was disappointing but you felt the team had something to take from the game and build on.

That was followed up by a comfortable win in midweek against an admittedly poor and out-of-form Sunderland side.

Hopefully that win can begin to repair the team’s shattered confidence ahead of a run of three successive home games.

The opening six weeks of the season were always going to be incredibly tough and likely to produce a number of defeats, even if the performances have been much worse than expected.

Most supporters have perhaps been eyeing this weekend’s game as the time where the campaign can really begin.

The opposition

For a team that has never previously played in the top flight, Bournemouth have made relatively comfortable work of the Premier League to date.

The Cherries finished 16th in the debut top flight campaign two seasons ago, though their safety had been secured well before final scramble in May.

AFC Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Last season was even better, with Eddie Howe’s side finishing a very commendable ninth.

The key now is how to build on that success while keeping the everyone’s expectations in check.

There have been plenty of sides in the recent past who think they have become “established” in the Premier League only to take their eye off the ball and slip back down to the Championship.

The summer signings of Nathan Ake, Jermain Defoe and Asmir Begovic look astute purchases and optimism was high at the start of August.

Unfortunately for Cherries fans their third season in the Premier League got off to a pretty horrific start with four successive defeats, though in mitigation two of those games were against Arsenal and Manchester City, who needed a stoppage-time goal from Raheem Sterling to snatch the points in August.

Either way that poor start focused the spotlight on manager Howe, whose exploits on the south coast have seen him emerge as one of the country’s brightest young managerial talents.

Victory over Brighton in their last league match was understandably greeted with relief, while a win over the same opponents in the Carabao Cup suggests the Cherries are finally gaining some forward momentum.

Bournemouth’s recent meetings with Everton certainly haven’t been boring. The four Premier League matches between the sides have produced 19 goals - nine of which came in the game at Goodison last season when Everton triumphed 6-3.

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

However it pays to note that four of those goals were scored by Romelu Lukaku while another came from Ross Barkley, neither of whom will be wearing blue on Saturday afternoon.

Team news

Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be hoping to earn his first league start since August after scoring twice in midweek.

Oumar Niasse could also be involved after coming off the bench to score against Sunderland.

Jordan Pickford, Wayne Rooney, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines were all rested in midweek and are likely to come back into the side.

Predicted starting XI

Pickford, Martina, Williams, Keane, Jagielka, Baines, Schniederlin, Gueye, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

Those three straight league defeats, albeit against tough opposition, have turned what should have been a routine game into something of a must win.

Ronald Koeman is in the midst of his most difficult spell in charge of the club, with legitimate questions being asked of the summer recruitment policy.

With no direct replacement for Lukaku Koeman seems to be scratching around for a viable alternative formation using the players he has.

That hasn’t really worked out so far. But with some winnable games coming it’s vital he strikes upon a successful formula sooner rather than later.