Everton return to Goodison Park desperate to get back on track after four consecutive losses at home to start this season. The last win was the last day victory which ensured Premier League survival in May. Everton have won five of their six Premier League home matches against Bournemouth, whose only triumph at Goodison Park was by 3-1 on the final day of the 2019-20 season.
Sean Dyche had an almost fully fit squad from which to choose. He made one change from last week. It was a surprise to see Amadou Onana reportedly dropped to the bench but that didn’t happen because Idrissa Gueye was injured in the warmup. Onana was on at the start. It was reported that Onana had been late for a training session this week and Dyche was not happy. Jack Harrison was in the side from the start.
Bournemouth made two changes to the side that were beaten 4-0 by Arsenal last time out. Adam Smith and Dango Ouattara were preferred over Max Aarons and Justin Kluivert.
The game started and it was clear from the start that both teams were nervous with passes going astray and confidence lacking. It was a moment of luck from Bournemouth when Zabarnyi slipped which allowed James Garner to walk in and dispatch the ball into the bottom corner. Eight minutes gone and one up.
The players were feeding off the cacophony of new that was being created by the Goodison Gang. Bournemouth did get the ball forward but the tight angle made it impossible for Solanke to get his shot on net. Bournemouth settled and started to get some possession but it was a nice move by Everton that saw McNeil shoot narrowly wide. Moments later Everton had two shots first by Harrison and then Doucoure but it was Calvert Lewin who prevented a goal.
A series of corners for Everton put pressure on Bournemouth’s goal with bodies flying everywhere but the defence held firm. The game was swinging back and forth with Bournemouth starting to assert themselves in the Everton end. Branthwaite was in the book for a late tackle on Christie.
Calvert Lewin was then dancing on the byline but he couldn’t get the pass to anyone in blue. The Blues were in dreamland moments later when a series of corners had the Bournemouth goalie scrambling and a beautiful shot from Harrison looped over Neto and deflected off the bar into the net. It was the first time in 17 matches that Everton have scored more than one goal at home.
James Garner was then on the move and his lovely cross had Doucoure stopping his run. Ashley Young had a couple of shots but neither troubled the Bournemouth net. Two minutes of additional time was announced and it was nearly 3-0 as Calvert Lewin struck the bar with a header and then Onana couldn’t wrap his foot around the ball and his shot skidded wide. Half time and on of the best halves of play this season.
The second half kicked off with Everton attacking the Gwladys Street End. Another careless error from Bournemouth saw Doucoure in the open but his finish was poor. Bournemouth then were on the front foot but the Toffees were defending resolutely. Doucoure was then slow on the ball and his apprehension led to Solanke breaking out only to have Branthwaite put in a brilliant tackle.
Everton started to take the sting out of the match by keeping possession. Solanke was given a yellow card for a pull back on Onana. Moments later Pickford launched the ball forward and Calvert Lewin took the ball down well only to have his shot go over the bar. Incredibly, a beautiful move which started by Doucoure was crossed to Harrison who headed the ball goalward only to have it blocked but Doucoure was there to blast the ball home. Onana may have committed a foul to get the ball back but the VAR check confirmed the goal.
Everton were swarming forward and both Doucoure and Calvert Lewin could have added to the tally. Bournemouth made their final changes but they were not generating anything going forward. Another scramble in the Bournemouth box created havoc but no goals.
Amadou Onana then had two chances but Neto was up to the challenge. Bournemouth almost had the ball into the net only to have McNeil clear the ball off the line. Harrison was then replaced by Nathan Patterson with the midfielder receiving an appreciative cheer from the Everton faithful as he left the field.
Bournemouth had their first shot on net when Keifer Moore headed the ball goalward only to have Pickford make a great reaction save. Beto was brought on to replace Calvert Lewin. As Dyche started to ring in the changes there was a definite drop in concentration which allowed Bournemouth to apply pressure on Pickford’s goal but the clean sheet was protected. Doucoure was then withdrawn to give Yousef Chemiti a chance to show what he can do.
Five minutes of additional time was announced and it was Nathan Patterson down the right side who crossed the ball into the box but Beto could not get on the end of it. It was McNeil who tried to get Beto into the clear but the angle was just too tight. The final whistle blew and the Goodison crowd broke into “It’s A Grand Old Team”. A complete performance against a Bournemouth team who were never in the match. Three goals and a clean sheet!
Everton Man of the Match: Abdoulaye Doucoure - A lovely taken goal and solid work in the middle of the park was just the start for the big midfielder. He was all action, all game and deserved the accolades that he received. Three goals for the season in 8 matches is an excellent start to the campaign and his ability to get forward balances the attack and takes the pressure of Calvert Lewin.
Everton are a more balanced side when Idrissa Gueye is not in the team. Today’s last minute injury to Gueye meant that Garner and Onana were paired in the middle with Harrison and McNeil out wide. Everton’s attacking play was far more fluid and the team were more solid at the back. Does Gueye break up the play when he is on the field? Yes. Does he add anything going forward? No. He is in the 22nd percentile for assists compared to Garners 82nd percentile ranking.
Today was the first time that our expected goals were lower than our actual goals. As Dyche has repeatedly said, when we finally improve our finishing we will start to get the results. Today was hopefully the change in fortunes in that regard. We were committed to attack today without losing anything defensively. It was a solid display that raises spirits during the international break and in the leadup to the Merseyside Derby.
There has been lots of discussion since the Luton loss concerning whether Sean Dyche should remain in charge of the Toffees. There are mixed views on this and today’s game will have relieved some pressure on the gaffer but it won’t end. In my humble opinion, keeping Dyche this season is important. We have flipped and flopped too many times since David Moyes headed down the East Lancs Road to United.
Our transfer policy has been in tatters because the style of play has been reflective of the manager of the day and those managers have been vastly different in their tactics and styles. Our team needs to manage the takeover of the club before any changes in the team, which includes the manager, takes place. We have to give this team some time to get on the same page. The arrival of Beto, Harrison and Chemiti addressed the need to be more effective going forward and our high xG indicates growing success.