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Everton vs Bournemouth - Match Preview | It all comes down to ‘Survival Sunday’

A nail-biting afternoon is guaranteed at Goodison Park

AFC Bournemouth v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

So here we are. 37 games down, one nerve-shredding, stomach-churning 90 minutes to go.

After a campaign full of disappointment, heartache, rancour, anger, hope and desperation, Everton, remarkably, still have their fate in their own hands.

Last weekend’s dramatic draw with Wolves did not make a huge difference in terms of what Everton need to do, but it should do wonders for morale and confidence as they look to hold on to that precious 17th place in the table.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Leeds’ defeat at West Ham the following day and Leicester’s draw at Newcastle on the Monday meant Everton’s destiny was restored to their own hands going into the final weekend.

The task in front of them is simple - beat Bournemouth and they stay up.

Easy, right?

A draw could be enough if Leicester fail to beat West Ham and Leeds do not win by three goals or more against Tottenham. A defeat will also do if Leicester and Leeds lose - though the tension would be almost unbearable.

This will be the third time Everton have gone into the final day still needing a result to stay up. Memories of Wimbledon ‘94 and Coventry ‘98 have come flooding back this week.

Everton went into both games with their fate out of their hands and still managed to escape the day on the right side of the dotted line.

The same occurred 12 months ago with that thrilling victory over Crystal Palace in their penultimate match of the season.

The fact we are here again just a year later is a damning indictment of the club’s leadership. If Everton do manage escape it will be as much - if not more - to do with the failings of their rivals than their own efforts.

Reports that investment group MSP Capital has signed an exclusivity agreement suggests change at the top is coming and finance for the new stadium is secured, raising hopes of a fresh start whatever happens.

That will be easier as a Premier League club of course. Relegation could be catastrophic and something we do not want to contemplate.

For now though it is all about Sunday, where Toffees fans - at Goodison and around the world - will rouse themselves one last time in the hope of cheering the players over the line.

The opposition

AFC Bournemouth v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Favourites for the drop before the season began, Bournemouth looked certs for relegation when they were smashed 9-0 at Anfield in August and replaced manager Scott Parker with rookie boss Gary O’Neil.

Everton proved welcome opponents immediately prior to the World Cup as they lost twice in the space of a week by an aggregate score of 7-1 - Bournemouth’s only two victories in 16 games between October and February.

But a remarkable run of seven wins from 12 games, including wins over Liverpool and Tottenham, saw them stay up with four games to spare, cranking up the pressure on the likes of Everton below them.

They have lost all three matches since securing survival which gives Everton a bit of hope. However, the south coast club has won all four of their previous meetings with the Blues in all competitions, scoring at least three goals in each time.

Previous meeting

Bournemouth 3-0 Everton, November 12 2022

AFC Bournemouth v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if Everton had sacked Frank Lampard after this desperate afternoon at the Vitality Stadium we might not be in this perilous situation. Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Jaidon Anthony earned Bournemouth a comfortable win just days after they had thrashed the Toffees 4-1 in the EFL Cup.

Team news

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Everton were dealt a double blow when it was confirmed that Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Nathan Patterson will definitely miss the game with hamstring injuries suffered at Wolves last weekend.

Vitalii Mykolenko, who has missed the last two matches with a groin problem, will be assessed. If he doesn’t make it then Everton will be without any senior full-backs, meaning Dwight McNeil and Mason Holgate could operate on the left and right respectively. Sean Dyche could also switch to a back three with McNeil and Alex Iwobi as wing-backs.

There is some good news - Amadou Onana was rumoured to be a doubt but has been declared fit by Dyche.

What they said

Everton manager Sean Dyche: “The fact is we should be under pressure because that’s what we want for this group, At the end of the day, this is Everton Football Club. That’s the demand of being at the Club. I’ve learned that very quickly, so every game should be a pressurised occasion, because that’s being a professional footballer.

“It’s not just about playing the last game of the season. That should be every time you run on a football pitch.

“We want the players to focus on the game. It’s not as easy as it sounds but that’s the idea: focus on what’s going on the pitch and don’t worry about all the noise.

“Don’t worry about all the rumours, don’t worry about anything that’s going on off the pitch. Like I say, it’s easier said than done, but that’s the clear intention - to focus on what’s happening on the pitch and focus on our performance.”

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil: “I think it’s a really good test for us. I’m looking forward to seeing where we are in it, how we cope with what the atmosphere may look like, how we cope with what Everton are as a side, because they are very direct, ask a lot of questions of you.

“Everton will be direct, the atmosphere will be tough and what a great opportunity for the players to go and show what a good side we are.

“See how we can stand up to the questions that are undoubtedly going to be asked of us.

“So a real good marker for me, with last game of the season, going into a summer break and then pre-season to just see where we are, against what will be a real good test.”

Final word

Whatever happens, this match will go down in Everton’s history. Let’s hope it is all for the right reasons.