Two home games, two wins. Added to the superb run of results at Goodison Park at the tail end of last season and indications that the summer signings were beginning to bed in, this was an Everton side that seemed to finally be settling and finding its rhythm under Marco Silva. All that was needed now was to take that new-found attacking potency and, for the most part, defensive solidity on the road and prove that there was more about them than the toothless display at Crystal Palace on the opening day or the woeful defeat at Aston Villa. Essentially, if a top-six finish is to be anything other than an eternally distant prospect, this group of players was going to have to start winning away games.
Clearly, though, this team is as firmly ensconced in the recent Evertonian tradition of serial underachievement away from home as any in recent years. Over the past decade, various Everton sides under a succession of managers have averaged a mere 4.8 away wins a season; even in David Moyes’s best season, one that yielded a fourth-place finish in 2005, the Blues recorded just six victories on their travels. Despite being backed up and down the country these days by sold-out sections of travelling fans, Everton rarely win away matches. Of the last 41, they’ve won just six.
That apparent psychological hangup — one that has also underpinned almost two decades of failure in the Premier League on the grounds of the old “big four” (where the last Everton victories at Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool were in the previous century) — is clearly significant enough on its own but there is more going on with this current edition of False Dawn FC than just that. Between Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, the door to the coveted top six might be creaking ajar this season but, on current evidence, Everton won’t be the ones sneaking through it.
The XI that took the field at the Vitality Stadium this afternoon wasn’t Silva’s strongest. The Portuguese made no mention of it in his pre-match press conference but André Gomes has been battling a rib injury since the win over Wolves a fortnight ago and wasn’t passed fit which meant a return to the side for Morgan Schneiderlin alongside Fabian Delph.
Up front, however, the change was entirely voluntary, with Moise Kean dropping back to the bench to accommodate Dominic Calvert-Lewin, providing fans with a sizeable bone of contention, one complicated by the fact that the England U21 striker scored Everton’s only goal of the game and an impressive one at that. There is merit in the debate over whether the Italian should be brought into the side gradually or his Serie A pedigree be acknowledged by throwing him in to start games straight away.
And, by the same token, it could be argued that Calvert-Lewin’s inclusion was as much a reflection of the fact that Eddie Howe has added height and physical strength to his team as it was a nod to Bournemouth’s propensity to play the ball out from the back and Silva’s desire to play the high press — a horses-for-courses decision perhaps dictated more by the opposition than the manager putting his best foot forward?
In the final reckoning, while Calvert-Lewin scored at the end of a first half that had otherwise underscored his general lack of goal threat, Everton looked more dynamic in attack with the more mobile and trickier Kean in the side even if the teenager didn’t end up seeing a decent chance come his way. That’s not necessarily a condemnation of DCL — had he stayed on as part of a 4-4 with Kean introduced with Bernard earlier as he should have been, perhaps things might have been different. It certainly might have been worth a try given that Gylfi Sigurdsson was one of the players hooked anyway.
And that speaks to a general lack of imagination and fluidity in Silva’s approach. Everton play the same way with the same formation week-in, week out and it’s become predictable. When it works it’s heavily reliant on Sigurdsson being on fire but that hasn’t been happening at all away from home so far this season. Almost everything gets worked wide, with limited end product from Seamus Coleman but enough success from crosses, particularly from Lucas Digne on the other flank to justify the tactic. Very few moves go through the middle of opposition defences; there’s precious little interplay on the edge of the box or attempts to dissect the back line with tricky passes and when there is, the balls are frequently overhit.
At the end of the day, though, you can focus all you like on the attack but you won’t win matches if you can’t defend and today saw the return of Everton at their shambolic worst from dead-ball situations on a few crucial occasions. Bournemouth took the lead from a first-half corner, doubled their advantage from a free-kick and then put the game to bed following a throw-in in their own half where they made mugs of Michael Keane and Yerry Mina with a ball over the top for Callum Wilson to plunder his second of the game.
With defending like that, it’s unlikely the game would have turned out any better had Richarlison’s cracking 25-yarder dipped just a few inches lower rather than hammering off the angle of crossbar and post with 19 minutes gone. Because neither the Brazilian nor Morgan Schneiderlin were able to deal with a corner from the Bournemouth right four minutes later after Jordan Pickford had palmed Dominic Solanke’s shot over the bar. The former Liverpool striker rose highest to flick the set-piece on, Josh King got enough contact on it at the far post to knock it up for Wilson who headed home in front of goal to make it 1-0.
Given how few times Everton have come back behind to win in the Premier League in recent years, you sensed that the Blues needed a quick response if three points were going to be a realistic proposition but, after Richarlison planted Digne’s cross wide with a header in the 37th minute and Calvert-Lewin had stabbed a shot well off target, they had to wait until four minutes before the break for the equaliser to come.
Richarlison was the provider, running onto Coleman’s ball into space behind the fullback and his lofted cross was met by Calvert-Lewin who hung in the air above Steve Cook and powered a header under the crossbar.
That appeared to have laid the foundation for Everton, who were enjoying 60% of the ball, to engineer a victory in the second half. They were in the ascendency without really threatening beyond Sigurdsson’s snapshot shortly after half time that Aaron Ramsdale pushed over before one sloppy foul too many, this time by Richarlison, was punished by Ryan Fraser in the 67th minute. The Cherries substitute drilled a low free kick towards the six-yard box that Delph tried to cut out with his left foot but succeeded only in helping it past his goalkeeper.
Silva threw Kean and Bernard on for Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin in the 71st minute but the fatal blow was delivered by the home side within 60 seconds. Mina, who had been dragged over to the right by Wilson, got his head to a loose ball following a Bournemouth throw-in just inside their half, Solanke beat Richarlison to it on the touchline and Lewis Cook spotted Wilson’s run to put the ball in behind the two centre-halves. The striker lobbed Pickford with an accomplished finish to round off the scoring.
Kean and Alex Iwobi almost got the visitors back into it with nine minutes to go when the Italian laid the ball off for the Nigerian but his shot was parried away by Ramsdale and Richarlison, with his last act of a disappointing second-half display, an effort off towards the corner flag having brought the rebound down on his chest.
Bernard almost fashioned a stoppage-time opening but his shot/cross was blocked and Theo Walcott dribbled a harmless daisy-cutter at the keeper as Everton’s challenge meekly petered out with Silva slumped glumly in the dugout, no doubt ruing his side’s defensive frailties.
It’s been lost in much of the outpouring of justified frustration at this result that the Cherries were unquestionably up for this game; they battled the Blues throughout and were not the pushovers they appeared to be when Manchester City beat them 3-1 here three weeks ago. Not for the first time, the Blues were found wanting against a physical, uncompromising side.
Nevertheless, a team of Everton’s quality, aspirations and superiority in terms of possession should have won this game, however narrowly. Instead, it’s a result that goes down alongside the horrible reverse at Aston Villa as a damning indictment of their weakness away from home. Whether it’s something the manager can fix with the personnel at his disposal remains to be seen but the lack of options at centre-half don’t paint Silva or Marcel Brands and the rather half-hearted deadline-day dash for Marcos Rojo after the loss of Kurt Zouma in a very flattering light.
You get the feeling that without more leadership, pace and concentration in that part of the pitch, without better defending of set-pieces, and without a change in strategy in midfield that sees the gaps closed between the deeper-lying midfielders and Sigurdsson, these sorts of ugly reverses are going to keep happening. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence that this Everton team can go to places like the Etihad, Anfield, Stamford Bridge or the Emirates and get the kinds of results that will make up for the two away defeats suffered to date.
Calls for Silva’s head are, of course, premature but he and his staff have to find the solutions and very quickly because only so many results like these will be tolerated. This evening, joint second place with the Champions beckoned if Everton could do what was expected of them; instead of flying high among exalted company, the Blues are back in mid-table mediocrity with little sign of progress from last season.
Everton went behind in a difficult first-half but Calvert-Lewin grabbed his first goal since March with a fine header to put them back in the game. However, no real threat in the second half which saw two soft goals surrendered.
It was not an auspicious team selection, with no Andre Gomes, Calvert-Lewin starting with Moise Kean on the bench.
A beautiful sunny day on the south coast, Everton kicked off and tried to move the ball around at pace, but out for a goal-kick. A decent move down the right saw a weak cross from Coleman but it went out for an early corner, deep from Digne but nothing came of it.
Good approach play and Sigurdsson's cross went close to goal, tipped over for another corner that went near post. More pressure and another corner, this from the other side, a Bournemouth player goes down and the whistle blows.
A Bournemouth attack saw Billing fire wide. Calvert-Lewin then gave away a free-kick. Solanke's acrobatic hit bobbled well wide. Coleman overhit his forward ball for Richarlison, and Everton conceded possession and initiative to the home side, Schneiderlin fouling Lewis Cook 35 yards from the Everton goal, Pickford collecting easily.
Everton advanced down the left but Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin overplayed the passing without any meaningful penetration. Iwobi tried to shoot but the ball was blocked away, leading to another spell of possession for Bournemouth that was well contained.
Calvert-Lewin seemed to get a great chance but had no pace or belief to beat the outrushing Ramsdale to the ball. Richarlison saw a chance and beat Ramsdale all hands down but his fine shot struck the angle and bounced high and away.
Bournemuth were defending solidly and making it hard for Everton, putting together a good move that ended with a good shot from Cook tipped over by Pickford. Rico with the corner, that was finally bundled in on the third attempt, Calvert-Lewin frozen when he should have cleared it. A long VAR check, finally the goal confirmed.
Everton tried to respond but Iwobi's cross would not reach Richarlison. At the other end, Wilson got goalside of Keane but he was offside. Richarlison overlapped well but his cross was horribly weak, and Bournemouth were on the attack, Pickford having to juggle a back-pass.
Delph went in strongly on the breaking Calum Wilson. King was then barged over by Coleman in another dangerous position, but Wilson put it into the wall and Everton eventually cleared through slow and laboured passing until the ball was lost.
Everton tried an attack but it was so disjointed and nothing really came of it, allowing Bournemouth back on the front foot, winning another corner that was played short. Everton tried to break through great work by Iwobi but the final ball bounced off Calvert-Lewin.
A better move down the left saw Digne beat his man and pick out Richarlison who was behind the ball as he headed wide. Calvert-Lewin dug out a shot after some hard work in the area that flew over Ramsdale's goal.
Delph lunged in again and was remarkably not booked by Michael Oliver. That card came with his next intervention, a high boot that Wilson kicked. Bournemouth were proving to be very difficult opposition, embodied by King, defiantly battling Richarlison and Coleman.
Another attack from the home side saw Billing's snapshot deflected just wide of Pickford. From the ensuing corner, Everton got the ball forward at pace down the right, Richarlison crossing well for Calvert-Lewin, who was climbing high over the defender, to head home strongly and give Everton a vital equalizer seconds before half-time.
The home side got things going again, but Everton got forward through good work by Iwobi, Sigurdsson with a neat laybaack for Sigurdsson who tested Ramsdale. Everton tried to build done the flanks but the resistance was spirited. Schneiderlin played the ball out well for Digne but his cross was easily repelled.
It was very competitive in midfield, with little quarter given by either side. Sigurdsson tried to relieve the pressure but his forward ball for Richarlison was overhit.
Everton had a lot of possession, Iwobi trying a clever clip that was intercepted, allowing Bournemouth to break and push Everton back, Mina giving up a corner, but Wilson was caught offside. Everton attacked but ran the ball out for a goalkick.
A hospital pass from Delph forced Digne to foul Fraser. The play then became quite frenetic, Everton trying slow passing to regain control, and some nice play from Iwobi, Digne's cross was too easily blocked though, for a corner that the homeside bundled clear.
More good work by Iwobi gave Calvert-Lewin something to chase when the defender sold Ramsdale short but the Everton centre-forward was just not quick enough to make anything of it.
Josh King went on a fine run that had Richarlison lunging after him: yellow card. Fraser drives the free-kick straight through, Delph swinging at it, Pickford totally lost. What a shocking goal to give away.
Everton huffed and puffed before Kean and Bernard replaced Calvert-Lewin and Sigurdsson with 20 minutes left. But Calum Wilson got behind the Everton defence off a simple ball forward from Lewis Cook and Pickford could do nothing to stop him making it three, Keane and Mina getting the blame for it.
Everton got a free kick that Digne curled in but Ramsdale punched it away. Everton pressed again but the ball would not fall for Iwobi. Digne tried and failed to connect with Bernard. Everton tried to build slowly but, as soon as it turned over, Bournemouth were scampering upfield.
Bernard picked out Walcott with a great ball over the top but Iwobi could not dig out the shot. Everton tried to construct an attack down the right but Coleman's cross was a long way from any Everton players. A corner was defended away easily.
Another good Everton attack saw Benard try to score, and Iwobi was denied, bodies flying everywhere as the game went into 5 minutes of added time, Wilson almost getting his hat-trick in another mix-up at the other end.
More attacks from Everton, more corners, but too little, too late, a Walcott shot not testing Ramsdale. And avery disappointing second half for the Blues came to an end.
Scorers: Wilson (21', 73'), Fraser (68'); Calvert-Lewin (44')
Bournemouth: Ramsdale, S Cook, Ake, Rico (90+4' Mepham) Stacey, Billing, L Cook (77' Lerma), H Wilson (57' Fraser), King, Solanke, C Wilson.
Subs not Used: Boruc, Simpson, Ibe, Surmann.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman (c), Mina, Keane, Digne [Y:58'], Schneiderlin [Y:90+5'], Delph [Y:35'], Richarlison [Y:67'], Sigurdsson (71' Bernard), Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin (71' Kean).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Sidibe, Davies, Walcott.
Everton constructed a great chance for a goal, Iwobi strikes it at Ramsdale and Sigurdsson wacks the rebound well wide. Walcott replaced Risharlison, who may have been suffering a tight hamstring.
King tried to beat Keane and blatantly dived. Delph was again late after being dispossessed. Everton didn't really have too many ideas left, Keane playing a ball back under pressure for a corner.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Everton are on the south coast this weekend to face Bournemouth as the Premier League programme resumes following the first international break of the season.
The Blues went into the two-week hiatus on a high thanks to a stirring 3-2 win over Wolves at Goodison Park but must now face up to what is perhaps their biggest challenge where maintaining a top-six challenge is concerned — namely winning away from home against inferior opposition.
Everton's home record since early February has been excellent but in that time they have registered just two wins on their travels, a 2-0 win at West Ham and a 3-0 victory over doomed Cardiff City, while losing eminently winnable matches at Newcastle, Fulham and Aston Villa and twice dropping points at Crystal Palace.
Marco Silva's influence over his team has manifested itself in a greater confidence to dominate the ball at away grounds but without consistently turning that possession into chances, goals and wins. Instilling in his charges the self-belief to start acting like a top-six team and go for the opposition's jugular in these away games is the next step that the Portuguese must take if he is to realise the club's ambitions.
He could — and probably will — help his cause by naming his strongest attacking line-up; the one that started against Wolves and proved so dangerous for much of that match. Indeed, barring any training-ground injury mishaps, Silva will likely play the same XI that started last time out, with Alex Iwobi preferred to Bernard and Moise Kean selected ahead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front.
The Italian didn't pull up any trees against Wolves but the signs of his raw talent are clearly evident and every appearance gives him more exposure to the English game, something that was always going to be crucial to his success in the Premier League. His superior movement and trickery to DCL could prove to be more effective against what is a weaker defence this weekend as he seeks his first goal since joining from Juventus.
Everton are priced at 11/8 to follow up their win over Wolves at Bournemouth and you can discover the latest free bet no deposit offers at www.bettinglounge.co.uk before grabbing what appear to be generous odds.
An FA Cup victory in 2016 aside, these trips to Bournemouth have been anything other than routine for Everton since the Cherries gained promotion to the top flight the previous year. Indeed, they are in danger of becoming a source of Evertonian frustration given that the Toffees have blown important leads and ended up drawing or tasted bitter defeat at Dean Court on their past four visits.
No Blues fan will forget the almost comical scenes in November 2015 when Ross Barkley sparked wild scenes among the travelling faithful with a “winner” four minutes into stoppage time after Roberto Martinez's Everton had blown a 2-0 lead in the last 10 minutes of the regulation 90… only for Junior Stanislas to notch his second goal of the game even deeper into added time to ensure the match ended 3-3.
Then, having lost 1-0 under Ronald Koeman and 2-1 under Sam Allardyce in the two preceding seasons and had 2018 summer signing Richarlison sent off after just 40 minutes, Everton carved out another 2-0 advantage at the Vitality Stadium last year but ended up drawing 2-2 even after Adam Smith received his marching orders for Bournemouth in the second half.
Silva will be hoping for a more disciplined and defensively sound performance this time around while looking to capitalise on Eddie Howe's defence, which has conceded nine goals already this season, plus his preference for open, attacking football which should ensure that Everton's front line get plenty of opportunities to do the kind of damage they did against Wolves.
Bournemouth will be missing Simon Francis and Lloyd Kelly at the back while Lewis Cook will undergo a late fitness test. Meanwhile, it looks as though Jonas Lössl and longer-term absentee Jean-Philippe Gbamin are Silva's only injury concerns.
Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday 15 September 2019
Referee: Paul Tierney
Last Time: Bournemouth 2-2 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gomes, Delph, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Richarlison, Kean