Free-scoring Everton will be aiming to win away from home for the first time since the end of September when they visit struggling Bournemouth, who ended a four-game losing streak last time out.
It turned out to be another frustrating afternoon for Cherries as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw at Swansea City despite being the better side for long periods. Unlike their previous outing against Newcastle United, they made their early dominance count thanks to goals from Josh King and Dan Gosling, but committed the cardinal sin of allowing their opponents a way back into the game soon after and found themselves pegged back by half-time.
It was another strong performance at least, but Bournemouth must be wiser in both boxes if they are to avoid a quick return to the Championship. It is important that King is now off the mark; he now needs to find the same kind of killer instinct in front of goal that injured teammate Callum Wilson is known for, but more onus will be placed on the success of a defensive unit which has been made to suffer at times this season, and Everton have found the route to goal more navigable than most of late.
As well as being pleasing on the eye, Everton’s football contained plenty of end product as they easily saw off bottom club Aston Villa last weekend in a game they dominated from virtually the first whistle to the last. The opening goal was evidence of the fluency with which they are playing, as some glorious one-touch football involving James McCarthy and the very much in-form Gerard Deulofeu led to Ross Barkley having a simple tap-in.
The England midfielder was to finish his day with a brace along with top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who appears to have reached a new level this term and is clearly now one of the most feared strikers in the English top-flight. Crosses into the box have been an Achilles’ heel for the home side in recent weeks, so Lukaku will surely fancy that his predatory instincts will be rewarded again here as he looks to lift the Merseyside club closer to the top four.
Artur Boruc could return in goal for Bournemouth as he recovers from a knee injury, but Marc Pugh is definitely out along with a number of long-term absentees.
Bryan Oviedo and Steven Pienaar are still out for Everton, but Muhamed Besic could make his first appearance for the club since mid-September.
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