Can Eddie Howe's Bournemouth make history against Everton?
Ever since taking the reins at AFC Bournemouth for a second time, Eddie Howe has made history upon history for the Cherries. He had already earned a place in the hearts of Bournemouth fans during his time as a player, and during his first stint as manager when he guided the Dean Court club to promotion from League Two in 2010. Following a brief spell at Burnley, Howe completed his masterstroke in helping lift Bournemouth from League One to the dizzy heights of the Premier League within three seasons, and managed to successfully guide the Cherries to safety in their maiden season in the top-flight.
This weekend however, the 38-year-old manager aims to write another piece of history at the club where he has spent 21 years as a player and a coach. Ronald Koeman’s high-flying Everton are the opponents, a club who the Cherries are yet to taste victory against in a mere six clashes since 1937. With five losses against the Toffees in all competitions throughout history, their one draw came in this exact fixture last campaign, where Junior Stanislas’ header in the eighth minute of injury time rescued a point in a 3-3 draw after Ross Barkley looked to have won it for the visitors earlier in added time. The Cherries had earlier fought back from a two goal deficit with goals from Adam Smith and Stanislas, before the late exchange of goals. That point made history for Bournemouth against the Cherries, but Howe will be looking for more from his side this weekend as he looks for his side to pull away from the relegation zone.
With a trip to Chelsea next on the agenda, Eddie Howe will no doubt stress to his players the importance of applying themselves well to the task in hand in a winnable game against the Toffees, despite the strong start the Merseyside club have made under Ronald Koeman, which has seen them climb to second in the Premier League. That does of course put the Cherries very much up against the odds on paper, though there will be welcome boosts for Bournemouth in this clash compared to last season’s fixtures. The first will be the inclusion of forward Callum Wilson, who missed both fixtures against Everton last season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, and the second the presence of new signing Jordan Ibe, who would surely relish a goal against Everton given his history with Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Fans and manager of the Cherries alike will be hoping that the stage his set for him to write the headlines this weekend.
The challenge for the hosts defensively will be to shackle Everton’s forward line, particularly so now that Romelu Lukaku seems to have put his barren spell behind him with goals in back-to-back Premier League matches, including a hat-trick against Sunderland, who incidentally are managed by former Toffees manager David Moyes. Their most recent league triumph was a 3-1 win at home to newly promoted Middlesbrough, where the Merseyside club really showed their attacking wealth after a tremendous team performance in which Ross Barkley and Yannick Bolasie in particular stood out. It was a historic day for Gareth Barry, who scored in his 600th Premier League appearance, and a happy return for Seamus Coleman, who got a goal for his troubles. New signing Idrissa Gueye is also proving a revelation in midfield, with Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu also beginning to hit form in an Everton side that is yet to taste defeat in the league this season.
With ten goals scored and one conceded in the league so far this season, and a superior record over their opponents, the statistics stack the odds massively in Everton’s favour going into the weekend. Bournemouth come off the back of a 4-0 defeat in the league at Manchester City and a 2-3 reverse in the EFL Cup to Championship side Preston North End. With his meticulous preparation and attention to detail however, there are few better young managers than Eddie Howe to tighten up his rearguard and motivate his side into a response over the weekend. Before their back-to-back defeats in all competitions, they were denied victory in the league by a last gasp goal at Crystal Palace, before recording their first and only win of the season against West Bromwich Albion, Callum Wilson’s late strike enough to secure the points; his first Premier League goal since returning from injury. Howe will be more than aware of his sides capabilities, and on their day can be a match for anyone, particularly at home, despite the odds.
With the strides that the South Coast club have already made under their young manager, it is not inconceivable that they should defy the reckoning again to surprise Everton, particularly after they received a reality check of their own in the week with a 0-2 home defeat in the EFL Cup to Championship club Norwich City. The Cherries are due a win against the Toffees, and although nothing in football comes guaranteed, it is not inconceivable that Bournemouth and their young boss will pen another memorable chapter into their rich and rapidly growing history. Though for Eddie Howe, the records and the accolades won’t matter. What his side needs are the three points, and it is that which will be the priority as the Cherries pursue the history that really matters: surviving for another season in the Premier League.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Stuart Bramley.
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