By Joe Nelson
Everton had been enjoying a fine start to the 2016/17 season up until this week, with Ronald Koeman settling in brilliantly, andendearing himself to the Merseyside faithful.
But with two defeats, one cup exit and no goals scored this week, the Toffees fans are starting to experience a few niggling feeling which they thought they had left behind last season.
The 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth flattered Koeman’s side, as a further goal or two would not have been undeserving for an impressive Cherries side.
Here are three things we learned during the loss down on the South coast:
Everton’s four attacking players pressed too high and narrow throughout the game, leaving their defensive midfield counterparts greatly overworked when the Cherries were able to play a ball into the middle of the park.
Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas had disappointing games and must start occupying the touchlines better if Everton are to break down opponents more frequently.
Too often was the case that both wingers cut inside and into traffic, with Bournemouth easily blocking the route to goal. Koeman must instruct them to hug the touchline more often and deliver crosses for the likes of Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku and Barkley a long way from world class
The Belgian striker will probably have been replaying his miss from Barkley’s free-kick on repeat in his head last night, and it is those kind of chances which he must start taking on a regular basis if he is to prove himself world class.
A hat-trick one week and a limp display the next. Inconsistency has always been Lukaku’s flaw and it was evident for all to see on Saturday as he chased nothing balls and was extremely ineffective in pressing the Cherries’ backline.
Barkley is guilty of much of the same. Dispossessed more than any other player in the defeat, Barkley must find his feet fast if he is to regain his position in the England setup.
Everton paid for the lacklustre start against Eddie Howe’s men and it was not the first time they have been guilty of starting slowly in the league this season.
The Toffees conceded in the opening 25 minutes against both West Brom and Middlesbrough this season, showcasing their poor efforts from the get go.
Koeman must drill into the mid set of his men that better starts will be required if they have any ambitions of a European finish this season.
In other Everton news, Koeman has delivered this verdict on the defeat over Twitter.