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Everton vs Bournemouth: The Opposition View

We spoke to Cherries blogger Peter Bell prior to Sunday’s Goodison clash

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League
Oumar Niasse scored the winner for Everton in this fixture last season
Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Everton return to league action this weekend when AFC Bournemouth visit Goodison Park on Sunday.

Both sides are enduring poor runs of form; the Blues have won just one league game of their last eight, while the Cherries have managed only two victories in their previous 11.

Eddie Howe’s side started the season superbly, and sat in sixth place by the end of October, but their dreadful winter put paid to any hopes of European qualification, and they are 12th going into this weekend’s round of fixtures.

They completed the double-signing of Liverpool duo, right-back Nathaniel Clyne and striker Dominic Solanke last week; the former on loan and the latter for £19 million.

The teams drew 2-2 at the Vitality Stadium in August, after Everton squandered a two-goal lead with 15 minutes remaining, while a late Oumar Niasse brace sealed a 2-1 win for the Blues in this fixture last season.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, we spoke to Bournemouth fan Peter Bell of the Cherry Chimes blog:

RBM: Firstly, has the optimism among Bournemouth fans been sapped during their recent run, or did you still expect to see them in mid-table at this stage?

Peter: Well, my pre-season prediction of 14th was looking a little sorry before Christmas as Bournemouth were rocketing up the league and keeping pace with the top six.

Since then, the team has been hit with key injuries to Adam Smith (knee), Dan Gosling (knee) and Simon Francis (cruciate). Gosling is back now and there is an air of optimism again with the new January signings that we’ll start to pick up points again soon.

RBM: How much further do think Eddie Howe can realistically take Bournemouth?

Peter: I’d say any year when the club finishes between seventh and tenth is an excellent season.

There are so many teams in a similar position, but the recruitment at Bournemouth has been improving year on year and if it continues like this then Europe has to be a possibility at some point.

AFC Bournemouth v Watford FC - Premier League
Eddie Howe has led Bournemouth from League One to the Premier League since his return to the club in 2012
Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

RBM: Bournemouth have garnered a reputation for playing expansive football, albeit with a porous defence.

With only three clubs having conceded more than their 40 this year, how can Howe resolve this long-standing issue, or will it take more signings, such as Nathaniel Clyne’s loan from Liverpool last week?

Peter: The defence is the one area of the team where Bournemouth have struggled.

I think it is perhaps the weak area in Eddie Howe’s management style, which is strange considering he was a central-defender. He prefers working with wingers and attacking players and I’d like to see maybe him bringing a top defensive coach, perhaps an Italian, just to see if the defence can be tightened up.

Nathan Aké is world-class and Nathanial Clyne will be a great addition, I am sure, but the team still lack a couple of more top international defenders and it is noticeable when there are injuries.

RBM: Even in today’s inflated climate, the £19 million fee paid for Dominic Solanke, 21, seems hefty, given he has only one goal in his 21 Premier League appearances. Were you pleased with this signing?

Peter: Most Bournemouth fans were very pleased with the signing, whether it’s £17.5 million rising to £19 million with add-ons or not. At least he is young and has good schooling at Liverpool and the England under-20s.

I think any forward will cost mega bucks if he is with a top Premier League club, whether he has played many games or not. I might have preferred Divok Origi myself if Bournemouth were looking to pick up a Liverpool striker and many would have had Danny Ings back before he went to Southampton.

But Howe loves working with young players and Solanke will hopefully do better than Jordan Ibe and Brad Smith who we also signed from Liverpool in the past.

Blackburn Rovers v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly
Solanke seems a risky buy at £19 million given his uninspiring record in the Premier League
Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

RBM: Fellow striker Jermain Defoe also left the Cherries last week, joining Rangers on an 18-month loan. Would you rather have kept him, even as back-up to Callum Wilson and Joshua King?

Peter: I love Defoe. He is amazing for the amount of time he has been in the game and still looks as keen as ever to make an impression. But Howe just didn’t find a way for the team to play to Defoe’s strengths and leaving him on the bench was a waste.

I think too much needed to be changed to make the most of Defoe and it was another example of a signing that wasn’t quite right for the club. Yes, Defoe could teach the younger strikers like Lys Mousset to make better runs, but Defoe wasn’t being played enough to merit him staying.

RBM: Everton are one of the clubs to have been linked with Wilson, who has nine goals this season. Can you see him going during the January window, and realistically how much do you think he would cost?

Peter: To be honest, I can’t see Callum leaving in this window. He has yet to play a full season with no injuries in the Premier League an I think he feels he owes it to Eddie Howe and the club to get a full season in and see where it takes him.

He has done well to get an England call up so he is getting noticed at Bournemouth. If he jumped ship too early he could see his career suddenly plummet.

Teams might have a better chance in the summer of getting Wilson to listen but the price will be north of £40 million, I am sure, and Bournemouth might look to do a deal with a team like Chelsea if they will exchange a player like Ruben Loftus-Cheek as part of the deal.

The problem is that proven Premier League goalscorers are hard to replace, so Bournemouth will not let Wilson go on the cheap. The whole team is pretty much based around his speed and power as well.

AFC Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
Callum Wilson is enjoying an excellent season for the Cherries
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

RBM: How do you expect Bournemouth to set up on Sunday?

Peter: There will be a lot of changes from the FA Cup fiasco [3-1 home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday]. I’d expect a team something like this: Begović; Clyne, S Cook, Aké, Daniels; Brooks, Gosling, Lerma, Fraser; King, Wilson (4-4-2).

RBM: Who do you think can cause Everton the most problems?

Peter: Apart from Callum Wilson, it’s the two wingers that are the having great seasons for Bournemouth. Ryan Fraser has been a bit of assist king and he is getting goals himself this season.

But David Brooks will be player of the season, I expect, for us. He has come in and fitted in so well and at just 21 he is destined for some great things, I reckon. His technique is so good and he runs effortlessly at defences and just seems to sense where he needs to go to find that pocket of space to damage teams.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

Peter: We have been paying poorly for quite some time and while we showed some grit against Watford at home [3-3 draw] it is totally different playing away at a place like Goodison.

I am sad to say I feel we are headed for another defeat and if Everton managed to go two up against Bournemouth last time with 10-men, then I’m going a 3-1 home win. I’ll still have my fingers crossed for a surprise away win though.

Our thanks to Peter for his time.