Date: 31st December 2017 at 9:13am
Written by: Neil Dawson

There`s something about playing against Scouse sides in December for wee Ryan. After single handedly masterminding the come-back against the red side of the city last year he provided both the lead and the comeback this year against the blue half. He will never pay for a drink in Manchester again!

Eddie sprang something of a surprise today by picking the same side – a rarity in this ‘tinkerman` season of protecting legs. Fast running out of players has something to do with it and Josh King limped off today to add to the groan of the treatment room table.

Bournemouth started very brightly against an Everton side that played with the normal caution of an Allardyce side?.Fireman Sam waving them back every-time they thought about attacking in numbers. Fortunately for the visitors though the home team were Barcelona in the first two thirds of the pitch and Barnsley in the final third. Time and time again great play broke down on Fraser`s heavy final ball, Smith`s weak left foot crossing or Ibe turning into people.

It was frustrating service and Wilson opted to go it alone with a flick and spin past both Keane and Jagielka but his finish was weak at Pickford. Ibe was having one of his better games and Pickford had to be lively to keep his drive out at the near post. Everton never committed enough bodies forwards to threaten but did break once for Calvert Lewin to finish weakly with his head.

King`s stop start season stopped again with him limping off to be replaced by Afobe – with us down to three strikers could we see a bid going in for a striker in January (or will Grabban return as back-up for familiarity)

Bournemouth always looked the most likely to score and took the lead with a great move. An Everton error started it but Wilson pounced and fed King who sprinted clear and crossed for FRASER who had bulleted unmarked into the box to finish with an acrobatic volley into the ground. There was a panic shortly afterwards from Smith`s back pass but Calvert Lewin was shepherded wide by Begovic.

HT Bournemouth 1 Everton 0

Bournemouth started the second half a little more tentatively – Rooney had arrived for Everton and he was pulling the strings more effectively and they pushed bodies forwards in search of the equaliser. Bournemouth`s midfield were excellent for 60 minutes though and closed down every move.

It was going to take an error to get Everton back in it?..and??there`s never one far away this season. This time it was Cook who shot himself in the foot playing out from the back – Franno wasn`t looking and Sigurdsson pounced to feed GUEYE who made it a gueye day for the travelling blue hoardes firing impressively past Begovic on the run.

Eddie looked like he couldn`t believe his eyes. Bournemouth`s reaction will have impressed him – as it did under similar self-inflicted grief against West Ham. They came back strong with Pickford making a fantastic reaction save to stop Wilson restoring the lead from Franno`s cross. He couldn`t get near Ibe`s phenomenal 20 yard bulleted drive but the cross-bar came to his rescue and the winger`s search for a goal moves on to Brighton. Good sighter though!

At the other end Bournemouth were indebted to a moment of defensive godliness from Ake as his last ditch tackle on Sigurdssen saved the day as Everton broke.

Afobe didn`t need a keeper to defy him as he had his own first touch which deserted him when one on one.

The pressure was immense – and in the 88th minute the roof came off the stadium when it finally paid off. Fraser had been lively all game and when he cut in from the wing and traversed the area he finally unleashed a drive which flicked off Keane and landed in the bottom corner to seal the day. There was time for Afobe to go clean through again and god only knows what was going through his head?

FT Bournemouth 2 Everton 1

Begovic 7 – Generally safe and a great stop from an offside Rooney

Francis 7 – Much better display with no winger against (this is key)
Cook 6 – Defended well so shame he had head loss moment.
Ake 8 – How good is this lad. One amazing tackle and on top totally.
Smith 7 – Very lively and linked well with Fraser.

Ibe 7 – Positive runs, willingness to shoot. Maintains improvement.
Cook 7 – Excellent first half but tired towards end. Intelligent.
Gosling 7 – Manful break-up display again and good use of ball.
Fraser 8 – Lively goalscoring display – hope he keeps this form up.

King 6 – Too little time to make impression
(Afobe 6) – Battled manfully but technique poor.
Wilson 6 – Led line well but shackled effectively threat wise.
That’s the second energetic display in four days – the second time in four days it’s looked like a Bournemouth side. It should have been six points but Eddie will be mightily relieved that it was four after three defensive errors that gifted goals.

Cut these out and keep the recent performances going and we should be safe. The Brighton game is massive as a win in this would really make the place breathe a lot easier.

Eddie has a habit of settling on a team and a formula to go on a run and we can expect to see this side for awhile now. There are fewer and fewer options from the bench now as well. Ibe has had two decent (but not error free) games and Fraser’s return to last season’s form is well received. The forwards still don’t look like they are firing and it now would appear to be Afobe’s chance to shine. That worries me slightly as he looked every inch the championship centre-forward today.

Still – two games ago we looked lost and now there is hope. You can’t ask for more than that heading into the New Year! Happy New Year people!

Report by Neil Dawson

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