Everton failed to recover from the Carabao Cup loss on Tuesday, going down tamely to anoter worrying defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. First half goals from Taverneir and Moore were added to in the second half by substitute Anthony as the Cherries punished the soft-centred Toffees.
Following the Carabao Cup debacle on Tuesday, Everton returned to the scene of their latest humiliation for possibly the most important game of Frank Lampards’ time as Blues manager. Sure, many would cite the Crystal Palace game last season as the most important but, this fixture at Bournemouth could be a make or break point – for his sake and ours, let’s hope the players respond and get a much needed victory.
The Cherries under caretaker manager Gary O’Neil will have been cock-a-hoop after Tuesday’s runaway victory but, he was no doubt aware that coming up against a team as humbled as Everton were might be a very dangerous opponent to face so soon again.
Former Southampton defender Jack Stephens joined the Cherries in the summer and patiently awaited his first team chance that came on Tuesday and he reflected on it saying, “I’ve been here a couple of months now and had to wait patiently for my chance, so I just wanted to enjoy it and show what I can do. I really enjoyed the occasion and hopefully there’s many more to come.”
He continued, “I’ve been in football a long time so I know how these things work, you have to be patient and I’m pleased my opportunity came tonight. I’ve got to admit, I’m absolutely loving my time at the club. The boys have been great, as well as the staff. I’ve not had to come very far but it’s still a new club, new surroundings and it can be difficult to settle but credit to everyone at this club, they’ve made it really easy for me.”
Stephens went on to outline his thoughts on possibly facing the Blues again so quickly when he added, “We’ll prepare knowing that whatever team they bring will be a difficult test but we’re confident of getting a result. It’s strange to play them twice in quick succession but it always seems to work out this way! It’s happened to me a couple of times in my career where you’re drawn against the team you’re due to play on the Saturday. I imagine it’s difficult for them to play both games away but we’ve done the first bit tonight, and hopefully can have the same result on Saturday.”
His caretaker manager mused over how many changes to make to his team and eventually settled on a starting line-up: Travers, Smith (c), Stephens, Senesi, Zemura, Billing, Cook, Lerma, Tavernier, Moore and Solanke.
Frank Lampard didn’t overly dwell on the Carabao Cup exit, preferring to look forward rather than backward in his Friday press briefing. “It’s a blank sheet. There will be different teams for both of us and it’s a different competition. Of course, we will make changes and Bournemouth will, too. In terms of ourselves, we’re going back to a stadium where we didn’t perform well enough [on Tuesday]. We have to take that as a collective and put it right. It would be really nice to go into a big break for the World Cup with a win. There’s no doubt. It’s important to be resilient constantly and understand the process of where we want to get to.”
He continued, “Bournemouth have a good record at home this season and it will be a tough Premier League away game. At times this season, we’ve gone away and got results we maybe wouldn’t have previously – I’m talking about the games at Leeds, Brentford and winning at Southampton. That’s certainly progress, but we want more.”
Scoring goals and enough goals to win games has been the Blues biggest issue this season and the manager confirmed that improving his attacking options was on the agenda for the January transfer window. “We’re certainly considering it. The reality is we lost Richarlison, who was a big source of goals, and we haven’t really had Dominic [Calvert-Lewin], who was a big source of goals. When we looked at the summer window, the priority was certainly to stop conceding, be more solid, then work through midfield. Maybe the next step is to give us ourselves more options in an attacking sense to help the squad. More options can be a good thing because, over the course of the season, you want to change things up and have others to call on who can give you something different in attacking areas. We’re well aware of that.”
Having made eleven changes last Tuesday, the question was how many would he make for this game and the answers came when he named the starting eleven: Pickford (c), Patterson, Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Onana, Gana Gueye, Iwobi, McNeil, Gray and Maupay.
Our referee on a pleasant November afternoon was Craig Pawson.
Before and after the minutes silence to commemorate Remembrance Sunday, that was observed impeccably by all inside the Vitality Stadium, the tremendous travelling support was in good voice in support of the Blues, let’s hope the players could reward them with a performance and a result.
An early chance in the fourth minute as Alex Iwobi got the Blues moving forward to find Onana and then Gray and his low cross into the fell for Neal Maupay who say his shot on the turn go wide of the target. Bournemouth responded quickly but, Tarkowski with two good challenges and Gana Gueye tracking back blunted the home side. The Blues then broke and a cross from the right from Nathan Patterson was just too strong for Maupay. Billing and Solanke had both gone down as the Blues broke, and both needed treatment before play restarted.
Everton enjoyed good possession through the opening ten minutes before a soft shot from Tavernier gave Jordan Pickford an easy save. Iwobi through the middle forced Travers into a hurried clearance into touch as the Blues continued their bright start to the game. Bournemouth won the first corner of the game after a flowing move ended with Tarkowski tackling Solanke and the ball going behind, the set piece sent deep and the Blues clearing the header from Moore.
The deadlock was broken, somewhat against the run of play, in the 18th minute as Solanke got away from Tarkowski to curl in a shot that Pickford parried poorly straight to the feet of Tavernier and it was more of a rebound than a shot that saw the ball hit the back of the Blues net.
Everton looking to hit back quickly won a free kick in a good position 25 yards out, Gray chipping it towards the back post where Tavernier was happy to concede a corner that was too easily defended by Senesi. The home side got forward and Zemura driving into the area won a corner after colliding with Pickford, and the Blues utter failure to adequately clear their lines saw a cross into the area from Zemura saw Patterson go down with a head injury before Billing chipped the loose ball back into the danger area where Tavernier headed towards goal and Moore made sure from just a yard out and the Blues were facing a serious uphill task again.
Everton were unhappy that play wasn’t stopped when Patterson had gone down but, VAR decided against their claims and it was Vitalii Mykolenko who left the field to receive treatment having been clattered by Moore as he netted, and was immediately replaced by Seamus Coleman to take over at left back.
Half an hour gone and a game that had started reasonably for the Blues in terms of possession if not goalscoring chances now looked to be almost beyond them, needing to score at least two away from home to regain a point is a major ask of a side with so few goals in it.
Onana headed a deep cross from Patterson wide of the target and a passage of nondescript play ended with Moore for the home side getting a knock and needing treatment. The game had turned scrappy at we hit the 40-minute mark, not that Bournemouth were bothered about that and a shot from Iwobi took a deflection that saw the ball easily gathered by Travers. Everton were fortunate not to fall three goals behind as a Bournemouth free kick wasn’t cleared properly and Stephens having stayed forward found Solanke in the area and his shot on the turn went across the face of goal and wide.
A soft foul by Cook on Onana saw the Belgian talked to by referee Pawson for complaining too much and from the free kick, Patterson saw a shot blocked and then he was caught by Senesi who was booked for the challenge. As the board to signal six added minutes was being prepared, Gray wasted the free kick sending it too deep and out for a goal kick.
Onana fed by Gray looked to find Maupay in the area, he went down under a challenge and the referee was adamant in his decision not to award a penalty. Everton were then incensed by a challenge by Cook that caught Amadou Onana and after the now obligatory VAR check, the tackle was deemed not worthy of a yellow card. Players were now going down all over the place and a collision by Tavernier into Tarkowski saw play halted and Everton were furious given play wasn’t stopped when Patterson was hurt in the lead up to the second goal.
McNeil saw a cross partially cleared as far as Coleman, his shot deflected over for a corner that again failed to produce – I’m beginning to wonder why we even bother taking them, not one headed goal all season and 69, repeat 69 corners so far this season without producing a goal… just give the home side a goal kick and save the waste of time and effort.
Two nil at the break, the referee in my opinion having a mare and the Blues looking frustrated in general and toothless offensively.
Half Time: 2-0
No changes for the second half by Frank Lampard that saw Amadou Onana go forward purposefully to put a cross in that Maupay laid back for Gana Gueye to shoot over the bar. At the other end Smith crossed from the right for Billing to launch himself into the header that was well wide of the target. Another decent build-up by the home side saw Zemura cross low for Solanke to gather, turn and fire a shot that Pickford held at the second attempt.
Bournemouth were smelling blood and Cook fed Tavernier to bend a low shot that Pickford turned away and Gana Gueye swept the ball to safety. McNeil and Paterson exchanged passes and the shot from McNeil hit Maupay, just about summing up the state the Blues are finding themselves in. Ten minutes had slipped by and alarmingly, Everton were still to force a genuine shot on target.
Onana tracking back did really well to win a goal kick when the linesman flagged for a corner, and when the Blues got forward through Gray on the right, he won another corner that was sent deep for Tarkowski to head back across the goal and just over the bar. A free kick on the right saw McNeil find Tarkowski and a clearing header fell for Patterson to hit a clean volley but sadly, just too high. Bournemouth countered at pace through Zemura who fed Solanke and the former RS shot wide.
Gray well found and set-up by Onana delayed, twisted and turned and eventually crossed far too strongly and aimlessly out for a goal kick. A change for the home side on 67 minutes saw Moore replaced by Anthony. A strong run by Tavernier saw him cross too deeply for the newly arrived Anthony who was then fouled by Gana Gueye to give the home side a free kick wide left of the Everton penalty area… for Cook to cross and Anthony had an absolutely free header to make it 3-0.
Twenty minutes to play and it was now more a case of how many Bournemouth might score!
A cross from Iwobi was just too strong for McNeil and Patterson arriving couldn’t keep his shot down. Solanke raced onto a through ball to beat Pickford, thankfully the offside flag denied Bournemouth a fourth goal as Everton prepared a triple change for the last 16 minutes – Anthony Gordon, Tom Cannon and Abdoulaye Doucoure replacing McNeil, Maupay and Onana respectively.
Tom Cannon was straight into the action with a decent header that Travers saved low down as the home fans chanted, “can we play you every week.”
Gary O’Neil replaced Tavernier with Christie for the final ten minutes as he looked to shore up a clean sheet victory and it was Bournemouth getting forward again to win another corner that failed to produce. Gray on a left wing charge combined with Tom Cannon, the move not producing but the Blues retained possession and eventually Gray won a corner on the left. He sent it deep and Billing headed it behind on the right and this corner was easily cleared to see the home side break down the other end with Alex Iwobi manfully tracking back only for Everton to again lose possession to see Billing get free to beat Pickford and the far post with a shot across the face of goal.
Cannon found by Coleman turn to send a low cross into the area and he was then fouled to win a free kick wide left that Gray again took and again it was easily cleared. Three added minutes were announced, could Everton find a consolation in the dying moments? Gray curled an effort high and wide and the last throw of the dice saw Travers quickly gather a low cross from Patterson.
Where do Everton go from here?
There will, almost inevitably, be calls for a change of manager but, who would the club turn to if Frank Lampard were to be dismissed. The biggest losers on the day were the travelling fans who twice in a week had made the long trek to the south coast and they vented their anger towards the players at the final whistle.