Everton 3 - 0 Bournemouth

There’s no question that had Everton lost this game, making it a club record fifth successive home defeat, this international break would have made for a long fortnight of recriminations, anxiety and fevered discussion over the future of a manager whom the club probably couldn’t afford to sack anyway.

Last weekend’s loss to Luton was a sickener that threw up question marks over Sean Dyche’s ability to set up his team to defend on the one hand and to attack opposition sides with any guile or semblance of a plan beyond the long ball to twin strikers who had never played together before — and it showed! — on the other.

This, then, was the tonic to lift Evertonian spirits heading into a two-week hiatus before the trip to Mordor that lies on the other side. Last week, Dyche had referenced his team’s almost incomprehensible xG when compared with their miserable goal return and this week those attacking metrics finally aligned with the scoreline as Everton handily beat Bournemouth to record their first home since the two clubs last met in late May.

In truth, had the margin of victory been twice as wide, Cherries boss Andoni Iraola couldn’t have complained — his side were that bad and Everton were that dominant for all but a few minutes midway through the first half when the 1-0 lead afforded to the hosts by James Garner’s first Goodison goal felt a lot more slender that it should have.

The Toffees scored three (the first time they’d notched more than one at home in almost a year) but also hit the bar, forced Neto into a couple of important saves and saw a handful of other really good opportunities pass them by in what was a hugely satisfying victory.

If Dyche’s time at Everton so far as told us anything it’s that the first goal is almost alway decisive in terms of whether the Blues will win and while we’ll never know for sure, it felt as though his decision (whether forced or not by rumoured disciplinary action against Amadou Onana for showing up late to training) to finally deploy Garner in his preferred central-midfield role was instrumental to this victory.

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The 22-year-old had started in that position at Aston Villa 10 days ago and scored his first goal in an Everton jersey and just seven minutes into today’s must-win encounter with Bournemouth, he confidently grabbed his second to set the hosts on their way.

Granted, it came from an unfortunate slip by Illia Zabarnyi but the team just looked that much more cohesive and potent with Garner playing alongside Onana who, in stark contrast to his disappointingly muted display against the Hatters a week ago, was increasingly effective as the afternoon wore on.

That pairing hadn’t been Dyche’s plan; Idrissa Gueye was the manager’s intended partner for Gueye but the Senegalese sustained a foot injury in the warm-up and was forced to pull out and watch from the bench. The presence of Jack Harrison in the starting XI was very much part of the plan, however, and the winger delivered on the promising signs in his two appearances off the bench since returning from injury to provide energy, invention and tenacity on the right flank as well as the finest goal to grace Goodison for quite a while.

It took a few minutes during a fairly scrappy opening for the shape of the contest to emerge but Everton’s harassment of the Cherries’ defence soon paid dividends as the visiting defence tried to play out from the back.

Zabarnyi lost his footing trying to turn away from Garner and the midfielder gratefully seized on the loose ball, advanced on Neto in the opposition goal and using Doucouré and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as decoys, he calmly passed it wide of the keeper to score Dyche’s side the potentially pivotal first goal in the game.

The ever-purposeful Dwight McNeil dragged a shot wide of goal from the edge of the box with a quarter hour gone and Calvert-Lewin unwittingly blocked Harrison’s low drive from threatening Bournemouth’s goal a couple of minutes later before the hosts had a flurry of corners that caused the visiting defence all manner of grief without leading to a second goal.

Everton did double their advantage eight minutes before half-time, though, thanks initially to excellent work by Calvert-Lewin who stole along the byline and cut the ball back looking for Doucouré but it was cut out by Lewis Cook for a corner.

Neto managed to punch clear from the set-piece and then got two fists to the return delivery from the left by Vitalii Mykolenko but his second clearance fell to Harrison outside the box who took it first time, sweeping a delicious shot over the defence, stranded keeper and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Though they had enjoyed a spell of superiority midway through the half, Bournemouth for their part had only threatened Pickford’s goal once early on when Dominic Solanke’s ambitious half-volley from an almost impossible angle flew into the side-netting.

And they came within inches of going into the break three goals down in first-half stoppage time. First, Calvert-Lewin’s header came back off the crossbar from Ashley Young’s cross and then Onana swivelled onto Mykolenko’s square pass in the box but it squirmed inches wide.

The pattern of dominance and tenacious pressing from Everton continued into the second half and when Calvert-Lewin forced another error from Zabarnyi and released Doucouré, the Mali international fluffed his lines with a powder-puff finish that Neto comfortably gathered.

He would make amends 13 minutes later, however, moments after Calvert-Lewin had dropped an audacious volley over the crossbar. Doucouré fed McNeil down the left flank and continued his run into the box as the winger curled the ball in towards the back post where Harrison arrived looking to grab his second on the day. His header was blocked on the line but Doucouré was hand to belt home the rebound.

With a bit more composure, the Blues could have inflicted worse damage on the Cherries but Doucouré volleyed another McNeil cross over while Calvert-Lewin was unfortunate to see his clipped effort over the advancing keeper drop a few inches the wrong side of the post and Doucouré blazed another chance over.

A penalty claim by Calvert-Lewin was waved away by referee David Coote but from the corner, Neto made a terrific double-save by his post to deny Onana from point-blank range.

Bournemouth were well beaten by the time the game entered the final 20 minutes but Iraola’s side would have their best chances of the contest at this stage. Solanke had planted a header straight into Pickford’s arms from a central position, Zabarnyi thought he had scored until McNeil cleared his header from under his own crossbar and Moore forced Pickford into a strong parry.

McNeil tested Neto again at the end of a quick counter-attack and, late on, Pickford palmed aside a skidding effort from Marcus Tavernier while Calvert-Lewin’s replacement, Beto, smashed into the side-netting after being played in by McNeil.

Evertonians who saw the wins at Brentford and Aston Villa as a possible inflection point of the season under Dyche but then witnessed the ineptitude on show against Luton will not be getting too far ahead of themselves on the back of a routine win over a poor Bournemouth outfit. There are still moments, like the Cherries’ two first-half free kicks where Phillip Billing was allowed to steal around the back of the defence in the same way Carlton Morris did for Luton last weekend for example, that show that some lessons aren’t being learned.

By the same token, though, this was another illustration of this Everton side’s ability to get forward, force mistakes from their opponents and carve out chances. They bettered their shots tally from the Luton game by 2 with 25 efforts at goal today, 8 of them on target and are reaping the benefits of having a fit and sharp Calvert-Lewin leading the line.

The striker didn’t get the goal his performance deserved but he was terrific from start to finish, holding the ball up well, winning his aerial duels and bringing team-mates into the play. Doucouré, meanwhile, was stamina personified and while not everything comes off for him, his sheer persistence and ability to be in the right places and the right time mean that his chances of causing problems and scoring goals are that much higher. (He has eight since Dyche took over, having been binned off by Frank Lampard.)

It goes without saying that Everton now need to build on this, something that will be difficult against upcoming opponents like Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton, but each fixture presents an opportunity to spring a surprise given the attacking threats that Dyche’s team possess. Keep things tight at the back and they have every chance of picking up some unexpected points in the coming weeks.

Reader Comments (18)

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Jerome Shields
1 Posted 07/10/2023 at 22:20:37
I think Onana needs players around him who can pass and interchange play. That's what he was brought up on. Both Gana and Doucoure don't do that, but Garner and Harrison do.
Ed Prytherch
2 Posted 07/10/2023 at 22:35:24
I have watched on US TV – every one of the run of losing home games – and I thought that maybe I was a jinx so I skipped the game today in favour of a meeting of the local British car club.

Now I have a problem!

Paul Kernot
3 Posted 07/10/2023 at 22:53:41
Dear Mrs Toffee Lady,

I did a similar thing to Ed and went to a conference, missing the only league game of the season so far, and we won, handsomely too.

What do you recommend we do now?

John Raftery
4 Posted 07/10/2023 at 22:58:10
Not having heard the ‘late for training' rumour, I was struck by how much Onana appeared to be struggling with the pace of the game in the first half. It was a warm afternoon but it seemed like he was blowing for tugs.

Although he improved in the second half, there is a question mark about the player's commitment and fitness level. I thought he looked fatigued in the second half of the Luton game. That was after he had played 78 minutes of the game at Villa where he looked out on his feet for the final 10 minutes he was on the pitch.

I'm hoping being dropped to the bench today will prove to be a wake-up call.

John Raftery
5 Posted 07/10/2023 at 23:02:05
James Garner was impressive throughout, assured in possession, and crucially grabbed responsibility for scoring the opening goal when others might have been tempted to pass.

James has emerged as the sort of player who gives fans a warm feeling of comfort when he is on the ball. He was our Man of the Match. I would be surprised if Dyche moves him from central midfield so long as he has Harrison available for the right flank.

Don Alexander
6 Posted 08/10/2023 at 04:51:30
And meanwhile, the horrible vortex into which Dumb and Dumber have plunged us goes on, unabated in speed or depth.

Three points are welcome though – just like someone burning at the stake might welcome a cold drink of water.

Mal van Schaick
7 Posted 08/10/2023 at 08:53:35
A fair assessment of the game. The story is one of victory and a decent, if not convincing performance, against very poor opposition, to gain a much-needed win.

Let's hope that this gives us the impetus to consolidate this performance against "you know who" in 2 weeks, and the step forward remains a step forward, and not two steps back. There should be no need for motivation.

Dyche, by fortune, watched the changed formation by way of injury to Gana. I can't second-guess what his team selection or tactics will be in 2 weeks time, but any points from that game would definitely boost our confidence.

David Bromwell
8 Posted 08/10/2023 at 09:19:58
Yes, it was good to get the win but, as we all know, our future is shrouded in uncertainty. But interestingly we have some very good players in that starting eleven so if confidence grows we should see results improve.

However, some questions remain. Why for instance is it necessary for our 38-year-old full-back to play the whole 90 minutes? Young is an important member of our small squad, providing cover for both full-back positions, I think he could have been sensibly replaced yesterday after 60 minutes.

As Lyndon remarks in his match summary, once again, our marking at free-kicks into our penalty area looked casual to say the least, leaving Mykolenko horribly overloaded with players to mark. Yesterday, we got away with it, but surely it's easy to fix.

Yet another bugbear of mine is our routine from corners. Why is it always the same? Surely it would be sensible to introduce some variety to the all-too-familiar boot into the box.

Finally, a few words of praise for Calvert-Lewin. To me, he now looks a terrific player, but the service to him is too often limited to the high ball booted up the pitch. He currently looks like a top-class forward and he deserves better service from his colleagues.

These are really issues for the manager to address. He seems to have the players much fitter; perhaps now we could start to see some improvement in our style of play. Keeping the ball on the ground, tighter marking at set-piece deliveries, and varying delivery from corners would be a start.

Niall McIlhone
9 Posted 08/10/2023 at 09:39:08
Your concluding paragraph offers the most important message, Lyndon, insofar as Everton have to build on this result, and this performance. I would like us to set up at Anfield as we did at Brentford, with the spine of the team now starting to pick itself, and Jimmy Garner is now starting to look like our most influential player, and at such a young age?

As regards the new stadium and the docklands development more generally, is this now the biggest infrastructure project in England now that the HS2 high-speed rail has been downscaled? If so, it is doubly important that the project is delivered on time, and is (somehow) ring-fenced for funding the build, as it is a totem, not only for our club's future, but for that of the Liverpool city region.

Oh, how I am looking forward to seeing the stadium all lit up in blue from the deck of a Mersey Ferry on a late winter afternoon!

Michael Kenrick
10 Posted 08/10/2023 at 09:49:41

It would be nice to think that the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock is indeed the biggest infrastructure project under construction in England.

Sadly, this is a ridiculous myth. HS2 (Phase 1 and only) is under construction (and will be for something like the next 10 years!) to create 140 miles of brand new high-specification railway track with a shitload of tunnels and even a viaduct.

At £71Billion, I think it might be just a tad bigger than our precious new stadium that represents roughly around one-hundredth part of that massive infrastructure project.

HS2: What has been built so far?

Michael Connelly
11 Posted 08/10/2023 at 10:05:16
Onana didn't need a 'late for training' reason to be dropped yesterday. His powder puff defending - particularly given his size - for the Luton goals last week more than enough of a reason.

Dave Lynch
12 Posted 08/10/2023 at 10:13:54
Chuffed to bits with the win but we have been here sooooo many times before.
Ill just take survival for this season.
John Raftery
13 Posted 08/10/2023 at 10:15:12
Michael (10) I think I read somewhere, probably on the club’s website, that the new stadium is the biggest private sector development in the country.
Brian Harrison
14 Posted 08/10/2023 at 10:28:10
I thought we had 3 top performances from Doucoure, Garner and Branthwaite, who all contributed massively to our win. As everybody has commented we were fortunate in their defender slipping to give us that very important first goal, but fair play to James Garner he took his chance and slotted home nicely. I thought Doucoures energetic display was one of his all round best performances in a Blue shirt, and probably should have have scored a 2nd goal with a guilt edge chance he created by his closing down. Jarrad Branthwaite just seems to get better and better with every game, great that he has signed a new 4 year contract which at least means when the vultures come circling this summer we can demand a very high price for his services. Not that I want him to leave but anybody who shows any talent at this club is usually snatched away before we see them at their peak.

I have to say I was really alarmed at how little Dyche and his coaches seemed to learn from Lutons goal from a free kick last week. Obviously Ariola had done his homework even if we didnt and had noticed how easily Luton got round the back of our defensive line from a free kick. Yesterday when Bournemouth got a free kick wide on our right you could see they had 2 players stood by Mykolenko and I was screaming from my seat in Upper Bullens, they are going to use the Luton tactic and they did and had a free header. the tactic is very simple you stand 2 men by Mykolenko and when the kick is taken the furthest nan stands there which blocks Mykolenko from stopping the other player who has spun round the back of him and is in acres of space to try and score. I am sure other coaches will have noticed how open we are from these type of free kicks, hopefully Dyche and his coaches will make sure this tactic wont happen again.
But that apart a decent performance and a much need 3 points as well as our first hom win of the season.

Barry Rathbone
15 Posted 08/10/2023 at 11:09:52
Branthwaite, Harrison, Garner, McNeil are decent technicians with Onana and Doucouré the athletes and DCL a focal point forming a solid mid table basis with more going forward than the old Moyes snooze model.

Tarka is sound and the full backs unspectacular, but reasonable, and with Pickford reducing his brain storms an improved first 11 has appeared.

Injuries will be the issue but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it because unbelievably we can now revel in the idea of having some proper footballers AND a few options!!!

Maybe Dyche is going to work that miracle after all.

Colin Glassar
16 Posted 08/10/2023 at 13:43:38
Barry 15, I've always thought since the beginning of the season that this is a 12th to 15th squad.

There is no way on earth that we should be fighting relegation this season.

Niall McIlhone
17 Posted 08/10/2023 at 13:54:14
Michael (#10) yes, thanks, that does put the stadium build in perspective, however, that £71 billion for a high speed line from a West London outcrop to Birmingham has to be the biggest white elephant in Western Europe, I mean, only the very rich will be able to afford to travel on it, surely?

Returning to the team, it's my hope that we can get Seamus fit, or at least near fitness, for the run up to Christmas, as I think he would offer important stability to the right flank, as the manager seems unconvinced in Patterson, as others have observed. A fit and in-form Coleman also releases Young to press Mykolenko for the left back berth, and for other wide positions.

Paul Birmingham
18 Posted 08/10/2023 at 21:55:27
A very pleasing result, and made up for the effort and spirit shown by the squad.

Quality football and Everton didn’t let Bournemouth play and earned the right to play and dominate midfield.

I had hopes before the start of this season and I still do.

Yesterday felt good and to enjoy the victory and celebration, and relief, but it seems some weren’t content, but a fine victory, and it brings hope for this season.

I’ve a good feeling perhaps the passage of time, but this feels similar to 1983, in some ways, but if Everton get lucky with injuries, then, I see a top 10 finish, on the cards.

But it’s a funny old game, so hope eternal.


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