By Paul Conatzer
As fickle as the fans of the latest “Boy Band,” a consistently inconsistent Everton stumble into Goodison Park for what should be a home banker.
Bournemouth has allowed 22 goals as they have lost seven of their 10 away fixtures. The Cherries have lost all three of their Premier League visits to Goodison. However, Everton has one win in its last five home matches, two draws and two losses, including an embarrassing 6-2 thumping against Spurs. Everton did pick up a home win against Lincoln in the FA Cup Third Round on the 7th of January. But the first 30 minutes of that match just served to illustrate how good Everton could be as well as how poor they could play.
Inside the first 20 minutes, Everton were up 2-0 as Ademola Lookman and Bernard both scored good goals. It could have been more as Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin came close. However, the Blues tripped over their Achille’s Heel and gave Lincoln an unexpected goal from a set piece. There were no more goals in the match, but Everton didn’t impress.
Everton’s last league home game before the Cup match was a 1-0 loss to Leicester and a classic Jamie Vardy counter-attack goal. Everton had 60 percent possession, but only had three shots on target.
During his pre-game press conference, Everton manager Marco Silva said December was tough for Everton.
“We didn’t achieve the results, we wanted to,” he said. Of Everton’s next seven league games, only one is against a member of the top seven (Manchester City.) And while acknowledging, Everton’s recent results have been poor. Silva doesn’t think the next month will be pivotal in Everton’s season. They shouldn’t be seen in isolation just as December’s results shouldn’t.
“The season is more than one month,” he said. “Before December, we had a fantastic run with six or seven games with very good results and performances, the team playing really well and everyone enjoying what we are doing and happy with the results. But it is not important whether the next opponents are equal to Everton or not because in the Premier League you cannot say anything about the next match because when you think it is an easy game it will be tough.”
Currently, Everton and Bournemouth are level on 27 points with Everton in 11th because of a better goal difference.
With the transfer window open, Bournemouth has brought in another forward in Dominic Solanke, formerly of Liverpool. Many observers believe Everton need to bring in a more consistent striker as Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse have failed to deliver consistently and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still learning. Richarlison leads Everton with nine goals but is better suited for the wing than playing as a straight centre-forward. Lucas Digne has put in 167 crosses, yet has only two assists.
Everton’s goal is qualifying for Europe. A top-four finish and the Champions League are out of reach barring a miracle. Seventh place will likely be good enough to earn entry into the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. Winning the FA Cup would mean direct qualification for the Group Stages. Everton isn’t in Europe, so their squad shouldn’t get stretched trying to qualify for the Europa League via both the Cup and league position.