Everton vs AFC Bournemouth
Venue: Goodison Park
TV: Sky Sports Premier League
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Everton and AFC Bournemouth both looked to have a genuine opportunity to bypass Manchester United in the Premier League table, jump into sixth place, and almost assuredly secure a ticket to the Europa League next season.
Fast forward to the present — the teams have combined for just four wins out of 19 matches in all competitions since December 1, with one of those victories Everton’s uncertain triumph over League Two Lincoln City in the FA Cup last weekend.
Marco Silva’s outfit have endured a largely inconsistent campaign so far having previously lost two on the spin to Brighton and Leicester City without scoring.
And despite a tough run of results, Eddie Howe’s Cherries have proven to be one of the surprises of the season and sit just below their opponents on goal difference in a healthy 12th position.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe is aware of the importance of breaking that run.
“It’s another massive game for us,” said Howe. “We’re keen to show a response to the recent run that we’ve been on”.
“It’s two teams that want to attack and implement their attacking play on the other team.
“We did really well to come back from two goals down against them earlier this season.”
Everton: Form and Stats
Having won seven of the 21 games, Silva’s side have shown glimpses of brilliance, whilst also demonstrating their defensive weakness – notably conceding six on home soil to Tottenham. If the Toffees are to avoid a lowly finish, they must tighten up in a side that’s gone eight without a clean sheet.
Marco Silva delivered a passionate yet reasoned defence of his early work at Everton on Friday following criticism of the team’s league position from the majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri. It is criticism Silva accepts after a run of one win in eight league games.
These are two sides in little danger of relegation who are instead looking at a top-half finish – although their form will have to improve to achieve that aim.
Everton find themselves in a predicament at the minute. Owner Farhad Moshiri commented on them not being good enough this season and promised the funding to get the Toffees to where they want to be.
Since David Moyes left for Manchester United in 2013, they have had Roberto Martinez’s passing style, Ronald Koeman’s organisation and Sam Allardyce’s more robust brand of football which did not please fans.
In Marco Silva they have appointed a young manager with ideas and his style is arguably getting across to a promising team with plenty of attacking talent, yet results have not gone their way and questions are already being raised about his position less than a season into his tenure.
It could well be a case of be careful what you wish for, though a win here would help put that chatter on hold for a while.
AFC Bournemouth: Form and Stats
The Cherries have been among the league’s bigger spenders in the January window, with Dominic Solanke one key arrival – although we will not see him on his return to Merseyside due to injury, whereas Nathaniel Clyne could make his debut here.
Having begun the season in a promising fashion, but their form has seen a massive slide in the last couple of weeks. Eddie Howe’s men are still 9 points away from the danger area thanks to their bright start.
The Cherries have certainly earned their fair share of plaudits this term in their fourth season in the top flight. Collecting 27 points so far, Howe’s side currently on course for their highest points tally – achieved in 2016-17 when they finished in a lofty ninth.
Keeping hold of Wilson could be pivotal to their aspirations of a top 10 finish. The striker has been involved in 14 goals (nine goals, five assists) and has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea.
Bournemouth, knocked out of the FA Cup by Brighton last weekend, have won just two of their last 13 fixtures so it is fair to suggest that neither side comes into this clash in fine form.
Richarlison – Everton
If one man can get Everton moving in the right direction, it is Richarlison and he could be restored to a more central position for the visit of the Cherries. He has had 10 attempts in his last two three games and two shots on target is not a big ask of a key player whose role here could be even more significant.
The Brazilian had a quiet festive period, registering one goal and one assist in his four games, though only playing 23 minutes in the 5-1 win at Burnley did not help his cause.
He appears likely to return to his natural role cutting inside from the left wing, however, and Everton’s fixtures over the coming weeks are favourable, starting with Bournemouth’s visit to Goodison Park on Saturday.
David Brooks – AFC Bournemouth
After four goal involvements in his first 15 Premier League appearances, David Brooks has been involved in three in his past three games.
The former Sheffield United man has scored 5 and assisted once this season. He was outstanding against Gracia’s men last time out and could be given a free role in this 3-4-1-2 formation.
The Welsh international has come into his own and has a goal every 147 mins at the Vitality, making him a key cog of the Bournemouth machine
Everton v Bournemouth | Opta stats
Everton have won all three of their home Premier League matches against Bournemouth, scoring 10 goals.
Bournemouth have lost all five of their away matches against Everton in all competitions.
Everton have won just two of their last 19 Premier League games played on Sunday (D3 L14), losing five of their seven this season (W1 D1).
Since joining the Premier League in 2015-16, Bournemouth have lost 14 of their 19 league matches on Sunday (W3 D2), losing both this season.
Everton have lost four of their last five Premier League games (W1), as many as they had in their first 16 in 2018-19 (W6 D6 L4).
Against the six ever-present Premier League sides, Bournemouth have won just two of their 21 away games (W2 D2 L17), with both victories coming at Chelsea.
Everton are looking to avoid losing three consecutive Premier League home games for the first time since March 2016.
Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson has been on the losing side in 14 of the Premier League games in which he’s scored since his debut in January 2012, including three this term. Only Romelu Lukaku (15) has scored in a higher number of defeats in that time.
Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser has provided nine Premier League assists this season – no player has more in 2018-19. He could become the first Scottish player to reach double figures for assists in a single Premier League campaign (currently level with Gary McAllister in 1996-97).
Callum Wilson has scored 48 league goals for Bournemouth, with 2018-19 currently his best scoring season in the Premier League (9 goals).
Head to Head
This fixture has produced a remarkable 29 goals in just seven encounters since the tine Bournemouth were up
August’s reverse fixture saw two red cards and four goals shared as the Cherries fought back from a two goal deficit through King and Nathan Ake to earn a point.
Silva has a fully fit squad from which to choose. Richarlison and Andre Gomes are likely to return to the Toffees’ starting line-up after being named as substitutes last weekend.
Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser will undergo late fitness tests
Right-back Nathaniel Clyne could make his league debut for the club, but fellow new signing Dominic Solanke (hamstring) will not be involved, while Simon Francis, Adam Smith and Lewis Cook (all knee) remain sidelined.
Predicted Starting XIs
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Coleman; Gueye, Gomes, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Bernard.
Bournemouth: Begovic; Clyne, Cook, Ake, Daniels; Brooks, Gosling, Lerma, Fraser; King, Wilson.
Prediction: Everton 2 Bournemouth 1
Two out-of-form teams meet at Goodison Park, although only one manager finds himself under scrutiny. The way these teams have played recently, no result would leave us surprised.
The pressure is on Everton, they need to win the game. And with Bournemouth so soft away from home, we think the Toffees will win.