They say fortune favours the brave and it certainly did today as Bournemouth went looking for the victory and duly earned it, and deservedly so.
For the Blues, the nature of the loss is more concerning than the actual result, as again they again set up too negatively and allowed a side below them to dominate the proceedings, and with games against Man United, Liverpool in the FA Cup and Spurs away looming, Everton need to find a different approach.
Without a win in eight games and having slipped into the bottom three, the Cherries under Eddie Howe were desperate to get a win that would take them clear of the drop zone even if only for a couple of days. With Jermaine Defoe and Junior Stanislas both unavailable due to injury, Howe delayed naming his line-up as long as possible before announcing the same side that started the Boxing Day draw with West Ham: Begovic, Smith, Ake, S.Cook, Francis, Fraser, Gosling King, L.Cook, Ibe and Wilson.
Unbeaten in seven games but after a somewhat disappointing performance at the Hawthorns on Boxing Day, Sam Allardyce selected a rather defensive looking line-up of: Pickford, Martina, Keane, Jagielka (c), Kenny, Schneiderlin, McCarthy, Gana Gueye, Lennon, Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin.
In charge of the final game of 2017 for both clubs was Lee Probert.
From an Evertonians point of view, the first half at the Vitality Stadium lacked exactly that quality – vitality. Whilst the opening exchanges were fairly even and there was less evidence of the long ball, the Blues again showed precious little by way of attacking flair and again, Calvert-Lewin was left to plough a lone furrow, a role that he patently isn’t best suited to play.
Bournemouth had the games first chance on 17 minutes as from a throw in, Wilson managed to get away from both Keane and Jagielka but shinned his shot and Pickford gathered easily. Everton countered with Sigurdsson finding Lennon for an instant cross that Ake was well placed to deal with, turning it away for a corner that came to nothing.
Bournemouth gave another warning on 27 minutes when Ibe found space on the right to shoot with Pickford down quickly to his left to turn the shot away.
The opening goal of the game came on 33 minutes when a poor, no-look and underhit back pass from McCarthy was picked off by Wilson. He found King on the right and his cross found Fraser arriving unmarked and he coolly slotted home.
Everton had their own chance to capitalise on a poor backpass when DCL intercepted to find Lennon, but his effort was blocked and cleared for a corner.
King was injured and duly replaced by Afobe on 38 minutes and the home side were able to take their lead to the half time break as Everton had failed to impose themselves on the game in any real way. Very little if any genuine creativity, pace, passion and no cutting edge would surely see changes made for the second half?
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Half Time: 1-0
Wayne Rooney replaced James McCarthy for the second half as Everton needed to bring more attacking intentions to the game as well as some kind of support and assistance for DCL up front.
But it was the home side who continued to play on the front foot, looking to add to their lead, in the opening exchanges of the second half before a solid challenge from Kenny left Smith needing treatment.
Everton made a second change on 54 minutes replacing DCL with Oumar Niasse and the Blues started to have a bit more joy with Lennon and Sigurdsson buzzing around with more intent to their game. The Blues first chance of the half came when Schneiderlin broke up play in midfield to feed Rooney and his shot was narrowly wide.
Everton drew level in the 57th minute as Sigurdsson picked off a pass from Francis to find Niasse in the penalty area and his his instinctive and deft pass with the outside of his left foot fell sweetly for Gana Gueye to hammer home the equaliser.
Bournemouth weren’t subdued though and hit back with Francis finding Wilson and Pickford saving low to his right hand side. Wilson then found Afobe in the box and his sweet turn took him into space, but he was unable to get a shot away.
Michael Keane made tow good clearing headers and Jagielka was needed for a timely block on Ibe as the home side continued to look for another go-ahead goal.
Rooney dropped into midfield alongside Schneiderlin when Yannick Bolasie replaced Gana Gueye on 71 minutes with his first involvement being a one-two with Niasse only to shoot well over.
A giveaway from Schneiderlin presented Wilson with a chance but the effort was defected and fell nicely for Pickford, but the chances were still coming the homes sides way. Arter replaced Lewis Cook on 77 minutes as Eddie Howe looked to take the three points and into the final ten minutes Ibe had two decent efforts, the first saved and parried, the second hitting the top of the Everton crossbar.
Ake got a fine block in to deny Sigurdsson as he got on the end of a cross field ball from Niasse on a rare Everton counter attack, but it was Bournemouth who took the points as Smith evaded Kenny to find Fraser and he cut into the box to shoot with a deflection off Keane giving Pickford no chance on 88 minutes.