Ronald Koeman was hopeful on Thursday that Romelu Lukaku will be passed fit to play after recovering from a toe injury
If you believe in such things, perhaps there is a parallel universe somewhere in which Everton held on to 3-2 leads at Dean Court, Stamford Bridge and the Eithad Stadium last season and went on to finish in the top six, lift the League Cup, and preserve Roberto Martinez's status as Everton manager and the club's new messiah.
Given the deep flaws in the Catalan's stewardship of the team that were exposed by those psyche-scarring results and the manner in which 2015-16 eventually unravelled, you somehow doubt it… unless, of course, Bobby Brown Shoes is an entirely different coach in this other dimension.
If you discount the warning signs that were flashing prominently the season before, you can probably trace the collapse of Martinez's tenure to Everton's trip to Bournemouth in late November last year. Having come out of a gruelling start to the campaign, in which they faced the top eight teams from 2014-15 in their first 10 games, sitting ninth, the Blues came from behind in the League Cup to edge past Norwich on penalties, thumped Sunderland 6-2, despatched Aston Villa 4-0 and were eyeing a relatively modest run of fixtures until the end of the year in which they could hopefully kick on towards the top four.
The reality was much harsher. The defensive concerns that underpinned the Cherries' recovery from 2-0 down in that fateful game on the south coast might have been brushed under the carpet somewhat had Ross Barkley's stoppage time "winner" not been wiped out by Junior Stanislas's header even deeper into added minutes. Instead, they were brought front and centre, as they would be time and again thereafter until the Board finally bowed to the inevitable in May.
Evertonians travelling south on Saturday would already have had that shock to the system playing on their minds regardless of how well the Blues have started in the Premier League under Ronald Koeman, so they could have done without Tuesday's defeat in their League Cup reunion with Norwich. It's allowed to creep back in some of that nagging doubt that four wins from the first five under the Dutchman had helped push to the edges of our collective consciousness and put a little bit more pressure on the players' shoulders.
Koeman, however, has already demonstrated his capacity to turn around a disadvantageous situation as Everton boss and as he (hopefully) welcomes back the starting XI that beat Middlesbrough last weekend, supporters should be confident that he will have instilled in his charges the need for a strong response and reattain his high standards.
Though it is away from home, it's the right sort of fixture in which to get back to winning ways as well, something they will have every chance of doing if they play the way they did at West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. With Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines expected to return to a rearguard that has only let in three and Gareth Barry set to retake his place alongside Idrissa Gueye in midfield, Everton will offer stern opposition for a Cherries side battling for goals and points.
Bournemouth have just four points from their first five games — their only win since the sides last met in April was over West Brom two weeks ago — and have struggled for goals, scoring just three times while shipping nine at the other end in the process. They will have the potent Callum Wilson up front and he will require particular attention from Koeman's centre-halves, while Jack Wilshere will be hoping to get his first win on the board since moving south on loan from Arsenal but more of the solidity that has characterised Everton's strong start should provide the Toffees with the platform to win the game.
The presence of Romelu Lukaku will be crucial in that regard, however. Pulled off against Boro with a toe injury, the striker is expected to recover in time to play this weekend but the team's performance against Norwich illustrated how difficult the task will be if he doesn't make it.
The return of Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas would partially mitigate the striker's absence but it would be a big ask of either Enner Valencia or Arouna Koné to fill the Belgian's shoes. It was comforting, therefore, to see Koeman relaxed about Lukaku's prognosis in an otherwise brusque pre-match press conference.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 24 September, 2016
Referee: Robert Madley
Last time: Bournemouth 3 - 3 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Barry, Gueye, Barkley, Bolasie, Mirallas, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (50)
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1 Posted 22/09/2016 at 22:45:15
I just hope Ross can find his confidence and his touch. I agree that Lukaku is so important, regardless of whether he scores or not. I think Valencia would benefit from playing alongside him.
2 Posted 22/09/2016 at 23:21:56
Remember, high flying Liverpool were hammered by Bournemouth this season.
3 Posted 22/09/2016 at 23:35:11
Some (very few) of Lukaku's credentials can be picked at, fundamentally he is a top top striker, who knows where the onion bag is and has enough about him to work in a decent team.
Granted, sometimes his on-pitch, arm throwing antics and off-pitch agent comments are less than amiable but there can be little doubt that he is of decent (better than decent) pedigree.
Regrettably Valencia is not a Premier League striker quality. Most teams play 1 up front and I don't think he can deliver in that role. He does have a work ethic which is promising but this isn't enough.
Maybe when we have a top 'top' back 4 and midfield to run the show there is room for Valencia but I suspect the time is not now.
4 Posted 23/09/2016 at 03:17:20
We need to win this one to keep confidence levels high.
5 Posted 23/09/2016 at 07:23:36
6 Posted 23/09/2016 at 07:57:12
7 Posted 23/09/2016 at 08:08:29
8 Posted 23/09/2016 at 09:00:35
This is a pivotal game that can really push us on. If we can win this comfortably (which I think we will 0-3) then take 3 points at home to Palace We all know who is up next and having that momentum and winning mentality will stand us in good stead against them.
Man City are far and away the best attacking threat we will face and probably the best team. But they can be got at and, with that momentum behind us, then I would be wagering a few quid on us upsetting the apple cart!!!
We need to keep this going until Christmas then go all out for a striker (we will hopefully be a more attractive proposition by then). Edison Cavani, anyone?
9 Posted 23/09/2016 at 09:57:14
10 Posted 23/09/2016 at 10:02:16
If any player comes over to you to celebrate, tell them to feck off and get back on the pitch!!!!!!!
12 Posted 23/09/2016 at 12:24:24
If I had to change anything, I'd replace Barkley with Valencia. But I'd still go with Barkley.
13 Posted 23/09/2016 at 12:35:13
Draw written all over this for me.
14 Posted 23/09/2016 at 14:09:02
One characteristic of Martinez's only good season was that the team bounced back well after a defeat. I hope Koeman gets us back to winning ways tomorrow. We need to turn winnable games into points and maintain our excellent start.
15 Posted 23/09/2016 at 14:39:30
I was as distraught as the next man when Bournemouth equalised last year to make it 3-3 but always thought it truly laughable when some ToffeeWeb posters attached blame to the travelling support who were simply ecstatic after what appeared to be a dying seconds winner.
There are no easy games in this league, only some which are easier than others, which is why I'm impressed we've won 4 league games on the bounce. Let's make it 5 lads.
16 Posted 23/09/2016 at 14:46:53
17 Posted 23/09/2016 at 15:03:38
I'd stick by my advice, if any player comes over to celebrate a goal, give em a quick pat on the back, "well done lad!". and then tell them "Now get your arse back on the pitch and get this game won!"
Plenty of time to celebrate after we've actually won the game. You can go party mental then!
18 Posted 23/09/2016 at 15:10:25
19 Posted 23/09/2016 at 15:15:57
20 Posted 23/09/2016 at 16:01:06
Headline: Man Utd
Man Utd and Arsenal
Chelsea and Arsenal
Premier League round up
21 Posted 23/09/2016 at 16:15:06
I could see Barkley losing his place this Saturday to Davies. We've only conceded 3 goals in the league so far so it would be nice to continue with that. Another MotM for Gueye would do nicely.
22 Posted 23/09/2016 at 16:23:04
23 Posted 23/09/2016 at 16:32:57
It's appalling really. The media has a massive impact on clubs and profiles of clubs.
24 Posted 23/09/2016 at 17:18:25
In American sports, there is something called the "East Coast Bias" where the sporting world falls all over itself for the Yankees, the Red Socks, The Patriots, Celtics, etc This is, in part, because ESPN is Headquartered in New England... Ugh... as a Detroiter its infuriating.
The only way to break this bias is to win and win often... not a horrible plan IMHO.
If this team is not SOE (Same Old Everton) then they will win outright tomorrow. I have faith. :)
25 Posted 23/09/2016 at 17:35:28
Oh and make sure the toilet is locked so the shit they are full of goes back South with them.
26 Posted 23/09/2016 at 17:38:37
I have had every score right so far this season except Sunderland when I expected a 0-4 win.
I said Week One we would be top of the league table after the Boro game. Well I'm one game off that prediction and that's not bad going. I'll need Man City to slip up but we'll see what happens to them. For us it's 0-4.
27 Posted 23/09/2016 at 17:49:24
28 Posted 23/09/2016 at 19:16:17
29 Posted 23/09/2016 at 19:42:35
Re the OP, would disagree that Martinez's 'reign' started to unravel in November 2015, he was found out back in Xmas 2014 when we lost 4 on the bounce.
30 Posted 23/09/2016 at 20:07:17
The bias is there for the world and his wife to see on a daily basis. Having said which, we are second in the EPL, the RS aren't. Must stick in their craw every time they look at the table! COYB
31 Posted 23/09/2016 at 20:40:09
Surprised at our manager being so casual about the League Cup. Wouldn't have thought that was his style.
Net result: pressure on tomorrow so it's actually made things harder, not easier...
Baffling logic this 'resting players' for the sake of it nonsense. Does it EVER work or produce any tangible benefit?
Nevertheless, as always: Koeman you Blues!
32 Posted 23/09/2016 at 20:42:50
I am an avid daily reader of the UK press on the Internet and Everton hardly figure at all in any sports pages, but then again it took many months for them to recognise that Leicester were becoming a real threat to their luvvies, they still can't believe that the Foxes outfoxed the so-called 'Elite'.
Unfortunately at present we are not in the same envious position as Leicester were, as second in the table or not, we are hardly able to emulate the outstanding challenge they produced last season unless we can make pigs fly.
Starting tomorrow, we can at least make the said arsholes and pundits start to take notice by taking the three points 'Dahn Sahf'. Let's Go Blues.
33 Posted 23/09/2016 at 20:48:30
The other changes should have still been enough to cope against a Norwich team who had made 10 changes themselves.
It was just one of those games that happen in football and I don't think Koeman was at fault. Nobody has a crystal ball, maybe we would have lost regardless of the changes?
Time to move on and focus on the next match.
34 Posted 23/09/2016 at 21:04:07
But nowhere close to anything that could be described as 'disgraceful surrender'.
35 Posted 23/09/2016 at 21:11:36
Cup games are one-offs, we can't judge the squad depth on the Norwich game alone but, like it or not, we have to make do with what we have until January.
Three points and Man City slipping up and we are top of the tree, nice. I'm sure the team will give 100% to get the win and the travelling faithful will be unbelievable again.
Hope Rom's up for it and Ross has a blinder, Coyb.
36 Posted 23/09/2016 at 21:26:38
37 Posted 23/09/2016 at 22:04:52
Nothing to do with Ronald of course. All down to that "Bobby Brown Shoes".
38 Posted 23/09/2016 at 22:41:27
Regarding the references to Martinez, there is an undeniable historical context to this weekend's fixture and the harbinger of Martinez's doom it represented. I'm not sure how me pointing out that there were obvious flaws "in his stewardship" of the team – a statement of fact based on results and performances – is "sneering".
And, yes, we may be out of the League Cup already but I think we can all agree that a) it was under very different circumstances and b) it's far too early judge Koeman's tenure either way.
42 Posted 23/09/2016 at 23:59:46
Cleverley proved to be a disaster last season when he was chosen in the holding midfield role; let's hope that Koeman displays a different approach to Martinez.
43 Posted 24/09/2016 at 00:14:17
Still, I could understand that. I didn't break down crying at our losing the game. There were swearing afterwards, though...
I still hope/think our first 11 will sweep the opposition off the floor. And I think Barkley will still be in there! RK told him off, he then did good, we did a cup game with 6 new players, he looked lost for passing opportunities...
I will NOT keep the cup game against Barkley, at the beginning it looked like he was looking for known things/positions, and they never showed up. And he, like all our players, stopped to 'think'... RB did not really look as lost as I first cursed, the people he expected never showed up!
44 Posted 24/09/2016 at 00:17:08
This is a massive game and one we should be winning. Let's give Sky and the BBC something to think about.
45 Posted 24/09/2016 at 05:32:46
46 Posted 24/09/2016 at 07:51:06
So both teams rested a load of players, both out of the league cup, no tiredness excuses for today.
Hope for a win but expect minimum a draw to keep the unbeaten league run going.
47 Posted 24/09/2016 at 09:53:33
48 Posted 24/09/2016 at 12:53:42
49 Posted 24/09/2016 at 12:59:40
50 Posted 24/09/2016 at 13:36:14
Funny that I've just checked the weather on the south coast and there doesn't seem to be nothing adverse. Oh well, at least the Liverpool, Man City and Spurs games have survived.
51 Posted 24/09/2016 at 13:45:16
52 Posted 24/09/2016 at 13:49:31
54 Posted 24/09/2016 at 14:00:40
55 Posted 24/09/2016 at 14:01:31
Looks like you were right Steve