Ronald Koeman had said it would be crazy to consider Everton title contenders and his team did little to suggest otherwise on the south coast, where they fell to their first Premier League defeat of the season. For Eddie Howe, this was a true Bournemouth performance, full of intensity and vigour, as his side recorded back-to-back home wins in the league for the first time since March. Howe apologised to supporters for his team’s dismal performance in the EFL Cup defeat by Preston on Tuesday but was never in danger of having to do so here.
Bournemouth set the tone from the off, Callum Wilson glancing a header narrowly wide after 61 seconds. The striker then easily evaded the attention of the Everton captain Phil Jagielka, racing through on goal before Maarten Stekelenburg smothered to allow the visitors a moment’s respite.
But Bournemouth soon got their deserved reward. Harry Arter picked out Junior Stanislas, one of 11 changes from the defeat in midweek. The winger, who scored Bournemouth’s 98th-minute equaliser in this fixture last November, was celebrating again here on 23 minutes, dispatching his shot beyond Stekelenburg after finding himself in space on the edge of the area.
The bite of the Bournemouth midfield was too much for Everton, who were overawed by the magnificent Arter, undoubtedly the man of the match, Andrew Surman and Jack Wilshere, who was substituted late on to a standing ovation.
“I thought we were absolutely brilliant today, as good as we were bad on Tuesday,” said Howe. “And that’s the biggest compliment I can give everyone in the squad about the response. I thought it was an outstanding performance, and the most pleasing thing is that we performed that way against a very good team.
“I’m loth to pick out individuals but Harry covered every blade of grass and technically he had a very good game as well. The midfield looked exciting for the future. We had a very nice dynamic in there.”
Everton failed to ask questions of a Bournemouth defence that had kept just one clean sheet in their previous 14 matches and Romelu Lukaku, the Belgium striker who returned to the lineup after a toe injury, was comfortably shackled. Koeman cut an animated figure on the touchline, as his team struggled to test the Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Lukaku’s first-half header from Ross Barkley’s free-kick, when Boruc saved well, was the only time the goalkeeper was troubled.
“Maybe, yes,” said Koeman, asked if this defeat had brought Everton down to earth. “We were not good enough and in the first half Bournemouth was the better team, with more aggression, winning second balls, and it was difficult to find our play.”
Gerard Deulofeu was introduced 10 minutes into the second half, and the Spanish winger at least gave Charlie Daniels something to think about in the Bournemouth defence.
Koeman later introduced Enner Valencia, the on-loan West Ham forward, as one of four strikers in search of a goal but Bournemouth did not give Everton an inch. When they did, Valencia’s effort from Yannick Bolasie’s deep cross catapulted off the forward’s knee, as Bournemouth held on to record their first ever victory over Everton, whose unbeaten run in the league had come to an abrupt end.