Written by Neil Dawson
It’s never dull against the blue half of Liverpool, is it? An occasion of attacking football with a scant eye on defence normally unfolds before our eyes and today was no different. Sending offs, penalties, four goals…plenty of misses and an epic comeback…a normal day at the office for this fixture.
It was no surprise that following a 100% start there was no change to Eddies line up. The bench serving as a reminder as to how far this club has come reading like a who’s who of international football…and Franno. His side started with great confidence as well with the clever interchanging of passes and a high press. Smith and Fraser were particularly prominent with their runs.
Chances were at a premium though but when the first one came it couldn’t have been clearer. Unsurprisingly Smith and Fraser were involved with darting runs and when the latter found Wilson eight yards out and unmarked the top score uncharacteristically curled over. King then headed wide from Brooks cross and the purple patch hadn’t yielded
The match turned scrappy and tense with too many misplaced passes from both teams. The gap between our central midfield and central forwards became too stretched and with Brooks and Fraser doubled up on, Everton started enjoying a lot of possession. The toffees lack pace up front though and it was only Richarlison that was getting any joy and he wasn’t on the pitch for the second half. Following a tussle, with Smith, the two clashed heads but the Brazilian seemed to flick his and Probert brandished the red.
King twice had chances to feed Fraser on the break as Bournemouth tried to expose the ten men but fatally hesitated and the moments went.
HT Bournemouth 0 Everton 0
The second half saw Everton playing on the break and looking more effective as a result. Siggurdson was at the centre of most things looking to feed anyone getting forward at pace. Bournemouth were overplaying as is often the way against ten men and starting to labour. The crowd echoed the tension on the pitch and it all went horribly wrong when Everton took the lead. Faffing lost the ball high up and Everton broke to WALCOTT who outsprinted the whole defence and fired too easily past Begovic at his near post.
This wasn’t going to plan. Eddie looked on in disbelief and worse was to come when Smith tugged back Walcott in an identical position to the one he scored from. Probert evened up the numbers on the pitch as Smith trudged off for an early shower. Eddie turned to Jordan Ibe to try and rescue the situation but within minutes the whole team were shouting at the poor sub as he switched off from a set piece to allow the cross in. KEANE is a good presence arriving onto a looped cross and Begovic couldn’t keep his header out.
So the Gods of fortune had set the comeback kings the ultimate test. Momentum went and ten men left…. surely this was a test too far? Nope. The team that doesn’t know the meaning of ‘heads down’ came back again. First King released Wilson with a glorious through ball but the hitman looked to have been pushed as he fired at Pickford. King tried again with a clipped cross and Wilson was flattened by Baines in the box. KING despatched the penalty with aplomb past England’s penalty hero Pickford.
Game on. Wilson was terrorising Keane down the channels and Cook had arrived for Surman and was running at the heart of Everton. It was coming and when Ibe swung in a corner and Wilson’s imperious leap and header came back off the post AKE was on hand for a rebound job.
Only a searing volley from Gosling troubled the scorers after this before a nasty protracted treatment for Keane following a head clash took the passion out of he game. An insipid six minute injury time passed without incident.
FT Bournemouth 2 Everton 2
Begovic 6 – At fault for first..great save from Baines made up for it.
Smith 7 – Barnstorming and in line for Mom before harsh red.
Cook 7 – watchful and strong and an overhead kick near-miss to boot.
Ake 7- another great showing at the back and intelligent positioning to score.
Daniels 7 – more defensive than normal but a great showing.
Fraser 7 – great runs and bustle. Played three different positions.
Surman 6 – some dodgy passing but watchful positioning.
Gosling 6 – good effort but vision and quality lacking.
Brooks 6 – some nice touches but largely quiet.
King 7 – showing a new range of passing and some strong running.
Wilson 8 – never let the Everton defence settle and involved in both goals.
Mom – No goal but a workmanlike performance, the great channel running and hold up play and two chances creating goals gives it to Wilson ahead of Ake and Smith for me.
It’s like a stuck record really. Concede softly then start the miracle-working. That’s the Bournemouth script. Interesting to hear both Howe and King talking about while it’s great to keep coming back it does actually mean you have to go behind. Made me wonder if Howe was banging on about it after the game as they sounded very similar.
It shows team spirit and it’s thrilling to watch but Eddie will want a quieter life this year. I think it was a game too far for three of his midfield with only Fraser playing close to his summer best. Brooks looked a little peripheral to me and I can’t believe either Gosling or Surman should start before Lewis Cook a player that can travel with the ball and pass it some distance. Hopefully, he will start for Surman next week. The lack of midfield grip meant the game was disjointed in places and we looked a little three lines again. Better teams exploit this and Everton came close today.
On a good news front there looks like real synergy between King and Wilson. I was looking forward to Brooks but will need to see him again I think. The team are also working much harder than this time last year. The worst spell came with the extra man bizarrely. The two spells with equal numbers proved more fruitful
Seven points is an excellent return and set us up nicely for a free hit game next week at the Bridge. Hopefully, we can repeat last seasons result and skip ecstatically into the international break with unbridled joy. It may be tough though……