by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has admitted that Everton will be ‘tough opposition’ when the Toffees travel to the Vitality Stadium this weekend.
Sam Allardyce’s side are on a seven match unbeaten streak in the Premier League, while the Cherries are without a win in nine.
The 3-3 draw on Boxing Day against West Ham saw the unwanted record extended for another game.
The Hammers opened the scoring early on, when James Collins rose highest at the near post to head home. But the Cherries fought back and took the lead, after tidy finishes from Dan Gosling and Nathan Ake.
David Moyes’ side possessed an enviable strike force, and the introductions of Andy Carroll and former Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez changed the game in favour of the Londoners again.
Marco Arnautovic was on hand to capitalise on a slip from Asmir Begovic, before the Austrian tapped home his second when a low effort from Hernandez squirmed into his path.
But as the game entered the final moments of stoppage time, the Cherries would find a controversial equaliser.
Lewis Cook’s deep delivery into the penalty area was flicked on by Ake to the back post, where Callum Wilson appeared to handle as he diverted the ball home.
Howe reflected on his side’s controversial comeback, and the last year for the Cherries, in his pre-match press conference:
“Our performance against West Ham was enjoyable and it was good to see us return to our best in terms of chances created.
“I think when we look back over 2017, we had a difficult start to the year and we’ve been going through a tough period of late, but in between that we’ve been able to secure that top half finish in the Premier League.”
Despite the last-gasp equaliser the Cherries still sit in 18th place, one point behind the Hammers. But Howe explained that he believed his side were gradually getting back to their best:
“It was great to see us return to our best against West Ham. We created lots of chances and looked really good in final third. That is something we work on every day. Sometimes it comes out in games, other times it doesn’t.
“For me, it wasn’t just the West Ham game, but we I also thought we looked very good going forward against Chelsea in the cup and away at Manchester United.”
The Cherries manager was also full of praise for Sam Allardyce ahead of Saturday’s game.
“He has transformed the club in a very short period of time. They’ve always had some very good players, but he’s given them confidence and they’ve been able to pick up some very good results.
“We’ve had some tough encounters against Sam in the past. He’s a really good guy and great character. He’s shown that wherever he has been he has a great way of building teams and momentum.”
The Toffees travel to the Vitality without a win in their last two, and both sides will be looking to pick up a crucial three points.
Kick off on Saturday is 3:00pm.