Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 8/11
Without a win in their last nine Premier League appearances, Cherries boss Eddie Howe will be glad to see the end of a Christmas fixture list that saw them face each of the top four on the bounce. In the midst of a relegation battle, Bournemouth will welcome a revitalized Everton side to the Vitality Stadium.
Now in their third consecutive season among the Premier League elite, Bournemouth can be considered as an established top-flight side. However, if the Cherries want to secure a fourth year in the Premier League come May, the east coast side will have to drastically improve on their recent form. The Cherries winless streak continued on Boxing Day, playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw with fellow relegation strugglers West Ham. Callum Wilson’s late controversial goal saw Howe’s side leave the Vitality Stadium with a point. Currently sat 18th in the table, Bournemouth have not picked up a win in their last nine attempts, a run stemming back to the middle of November.
After facing back-to-back games against Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, Howe’s side will know the importance of picking up points from teams outside the top 6. Desperate to climb out of the relegation zone, failure to pick up three points on Saturday afternoon will be the first time in Bournemouth’s history they have gone 10 games without a win. Unable to replicate their formidable home form from last season, the Cherries have only secured two wins at the Vitality this season, more worryingly for Howe’s side they are without a win in the last four. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in seven matches, conceding 17 goals since a 0-0 draw at Swansea on 25 November.
Several Bournemouth players face late fitness checks ahead of the 3pm clash at the Vitality Stadium.
Defender Charlie Daniels (groin) and midfielder Harry Arter (calf) have been absent for the last two games, forward Josh King (hamstring) was substituted against West Ham last time out, while Andrew Surman missed that 3-3 draw on Boxing Day and all four will be assessed before the match.
Jermain Defoe (ankle) and Tyrone Mings (back) are still sidelined long-term, while Junior Stanislas also missed out against the Hammers after limping out at Manchester City three days earlier and will be absent again.
After spending over £100million last summer, Ronald Koeman was unable to push Everton above the relegation zone and his departure in October left the Toffees in a terrible position. However, after appointing former England boss Sam Allardyce last month, Everton have managed to turn their season around. Playing out a goalless 0-0 draw away at West Brom on Boxing Day, Everton are now unbeaten since Big Sam took charge. With five wins and three draws, the Toffees currently sit ninth in the table and have moved 10 points adrift of the drop zone.
A key part in Everton’s revival has been their defensive improvements. Coming off the back of consecutive 0-0 draws against West Brom and the defending champions Chelsea, Everton have now only conceded just two goals in their last seven league games. Highlighting their improvements, prior to Allardyce taking over last month, they had gone 12 top-flight matches without a clean sheet, conceding 28 times. The return of Wayne Rooney has also added some much-needed experience into Everton’s ranks. Returning for his second spell at Goodison Park, Everton’s captain will also return to the squad after missing the last two games due to an illness. With 10 Premier League goals already this year, Rooney has scored the same amount of goals as both Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku.
Everton will welcome back Wayne Rooney when they travel to Bournemouth for Saturday’s Premier League clash.
James McCarthy, who has not made a first-team appearance since October due to a hamstring injury, should join Rooney in returning to the Everton frame, but Idrissa Gueye (hamstring) remains a doubt.
Leighton Baines (calf) is still out after suffering a setback in his rehabilitation, and while Ross Barkley (knee) does not look set to be involved at the Vitality Stadium. However, Allardyce has revealed that the playmaker is close to making a full recovery.
Key Factors to Consider
- Bournemouth’s win in this fixture last season was their first ever over Everton in nine meetings overall.
- The Cherries could go nine Premier Leagues without winning for the first time.
- Everton are undefeated under Sam Allardyce, winning four and drawing three of his seven games in charge in all competitions.
- They have conceded just two goals in their last seven league games (one of which came under caretaker David Unsworth).
- Howe’s side have won just two of their 10 home Premier League games this season (L5, D3), and are winless in the last four (L2, D2).
Although on paper it may be a battle of the in-form against the out of form, goals could be a rare commodity at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With the visitors coming off the back of consecutive 0-0 draws, seven of Everton’s ten away games, including all three of the matches under Allardyce, have seen fewer than three goals. Although the Cherries may have found the net three times against West Ham on Boxing Day, Bournemouth have struggled in the final third this year. Backing under 2.5 goals seems like the most logical bet at the Vitality.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 8/11
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