Tactical Preview – Bournemouth vs Everton

Now that we’ve all had a much need break from league play (or not from my place), it’s time to focus our attention on the Sunday match against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. Bournemouth sit on four points after four matches with a win at Villa, a draw after conceding in the final minutes at home against Sheffield, and heavy losses against Man City and Leicester.  We walk through major transfers, 2018/19 team performance, common tactics in the four major phases of the game, injuries, Villa’s performance in the first four games, and make a prediction on what we believe will be the results of the game. 



  • Arnaut Danjuma, LW, Club Brugge, €16M
  • Philip Billing, DM, Huddersfield, €15M 
  • Lloyd Kelly, CB, Bristol City, €17M
  • Jack Stacey, RB, Luton, €4M
  • Harry Wilson, RW, Liverpool, Loan 


  • Tyrone Mings, CB, Aston Villa, €20M
  • Lys Mousset, CF, Sheffield Utd., €9M
  • Asmir Begovic, GK, Qarabag Agdam, Free

Mings was a big loss and Lloyd Kelly, although maybe one for the future as well, is still out injured, as is Danjuma.  Billing has started and played 90 minutes for every game except for the Villa match where he was lucky to not get sent off in the first half.  Harry Wilson has played a bit and leads Bournemouth with 2 goals.        

DATA ANALYSIS – Current and 2018/19 Season


Bournemouth has traditionally been more of a counter attacking side, usually scoring from good chances off the break based on quick strike capability with excellent pace/movement and minimal shot volume.  

Current Season.  Bournemouth has scored 5 goals, but is 2nd to last with 2 goals scored from open play as 2 were scored off set pieces with another from the spot.  In terms of scoring attempts, Bournemouth has not been effective:

  • 14th in shots per game (10.8), 10th in shot on target per game (4), 17th in touches in the box.
Early xG graphs suggest Bournemouth aren’t strong at creating, nor taking chances.

Bournemouth has also had little possession, although they sat back against Man City and packed it in after going up 2-0 against Villa.  Beyond that, Bournemouth has not passed it very well or created many chances.

  • 18th in possession (42.4%), 16th in passing accuracy (75.6%), 16th in passes per game, bottom 4/5 in key passes per game.

Bournemouth also has some other interesting attacking numbers to include only 18th in dribbles per game, yet 6th in success rate (57.8%) and 4th in drawing fouls, which his crazy considering the lack of possession.  Bournemouth is also not a heavy crossing team – 17th in attempts, 19th in accuracy, and usually likes to attack off the counter with pace in a direct manner.  

18/19 Season.  Many of these numbers look very similar, although not quite as productive.  Bournemouth scored 56 goals last year, good enough for 7th in the league.  They led the league in counter attacking goals, yet again had lower possession and shot volume numbers.  They also were the 2nd most fouled team in the PL, with the same low possession and dribbling numbers.  Either way, Bournemouth still has most of those attacking players and can be dangerous off the break.


Bournemouth have never conceded fewer than 60 goals under Eddie Howe since they were promoted to the PL.  They will show some pressure at times and often have athletic players, but are rarely aggressive in terms of fouls/tackles.  

Current Season.  They’ve had little possession as previously noted and are 16th in shots against per game (15.5), but a high % of these are outside of the box.  They also strangely are last in the league in tackles per game, yet 1st in interceptions per game with five players in the top 20 in Ake, Billings, Mepham, Lerma, and Cook.  They’ve also blocked a lot of shots with Ake and Cook at 5th and 6th in the league per game.  Frankly, Bournemouth have sat back and haven’t shown a lot of aggressiveness on defense this season, but have been effective in picking off passes and going the other way.   

18/19 Season.  The defense was simply poor, there’s no other way to put it.  They gave up 70 goals, 18th in the league, and looked a bit similar with minimal tackles, few fouls, but they also didn’t intercept a lot of balls, either.  Bournemouth’s goal differential was -14.


Eddie Howe has shown some tactical variety this season.  He’s mostly gone with a 4-4-2, but did play a 5-4-1 against Man City and when Daniels went down in the 37th minute, moved Fraser to a wingback on the left to sub Harry Wilson in on the right.  Man City like to attack from the outside much like Everton (only to a ridiculous level in comparison) and that formation and tactics did a very good job at reducing City.  Man City were fortunate to score 2 goals by half time. It would force Everton to do more attacking down the middle, something they don’t seem very comfortable in doing.  

Howe also played Ake on the left in a 4-4-2 against Leicester, but eventually played 3 in the back right around when they went down 2-0.  There’s a good chance Eddie Howe may start in that 4-4-2 again with Ake out left unless he felts as I doubt he believes Diego Rico, who played against Forest Green in the Carbao Cup match in midweek, can handle left back.  Howe seems comfortable with Chris Mepham at one of the CB positions. That being said, even though he’s playing at home, he would be wise to set up in a 5-4-1 similar to the tactics against Man City as I believe that would be the most problematic setup for Everton.  Regardless of formation, Billing and Lerma will likely be in the middle, Fraser on the left as the creative force cutting in from the left, Harry Wilson on the right, with Callum Wilson and Josh King playing off of him up top. 

Predicted Lineup – 442
Predicted Lineup – 541

In general, Howe’s team can build a bit out of the back in possession, but is most dangerous playing off the counter and when given the opportunity, will attack with movement and pace.  Wilson can hold up the ball and distribute well with Ryan Fraser being the most influential creative force. Lerma and Billing are inconsistent, but when at the top of their game, can provide athleticism in the middle of the park and help fuel the counter attack.

With Possession

Bournemouth create much of their opportunities off the counter, but when they have possession in their own end, they can pass it out and have some decent decision makers in the back despite their stats.  That being said, they are limited. Cook isn’t particularly skilled with the ball and Ramsdale can often be slow on the delivery – Vardy almost picked him several times. Lerma and Billings are the key to transitioning the ball up top with Lerma being a bit more skilled at it – Billing does hold the ball a bit too often and can turn it over, creating opportunities for opponents to exploit. 

Ake at LB can get forward at times to support Fraser and while Bournemouth can play to King or Wilson in the air as outlets, Howe’s teams like to keep it on the ground. Even though Fraser LOVES the overlap, he still looks to get the ball into the middle on the ground more often than not as Bournemouth will rarely cross the ball and when they do, they don’t do it well (bottom 4 in the PL in attempts and accuracy). 

Bournemouth is very focused on getting the ball into the middle of the field, especially in the danger area at the top of the 18 where Wilson is good at receiving the ball and can distribute or flop, which he does often. This can create free kick opportunities in dangerous places and while he is not exceptional in open play, Harry Wilson has shown the ability to score from set pieces.

Transition – When they lose the ball

Bournemouth usually attacks with such speed and aggressiveness, especially off the counter, they can be susceptible to the quick counter themselves.  This is problematic for Bournemouth especially if Ake is pushed up higher at left back as the remaining defenders are not the best in space. Lerma and Billing can get aggressive as well and be played behind.  At times Bournemouth pressure when they lose it, but aren’t overly aggressive in doing so. They prefer to get back into their shape and apply pressure within an organized structure.  

Without Possession

Bournemouth often defend with the intent to counter when they win it.  However, they do not sit back lower like Crystal Palace or even Aston Villa, another counter attacking oriented side.  Howe has shown some tactical variety in his defensive shape from match to match. Against, Manchester City, Howe showed a 5-4-1 that was effective in preventing City attacking from the wide spaces, partially due to Bournemouth not being all that great in the air and defending crosses, and sprung several counters that troubled City in the first half. 

This was very different from the 4-4-2 against Leicester that pushed the wide midfielders up to attack the FBs when they received passes from the CB with the two CFs VERY compact, clearly designed to prevent the short pass to Ndidi. However, Leicester effectively countered with passing sequences designed to play around the wide midfielders – who are frankly not the best defensively, pull the CMs wide, and create odd man situations against the FBs and CMs.  It’s also worth noting that Billings and to a lesser extent, Lerma, do foul quite a bit. Billing has already been subbed at half for fear of a red card and Lerma probably deserved one after his rash challenge against Leicester later in the match.

Notice the passing sequence from FB to wide mid, pulls the CM wide, wide mid can play back to breaking FB (fails on first try) and play 3 v2 or 2 v1 with supporting striker against defending fullback and CM.

Against Villa, Bournemouth went up early and sat back very deep, in response to the moment knowing that forcing Villa to attack slower and with possession is not their strong suit.  So in general, this is where Howe really shows his tactical awareness. Fortunately for Everton, he is somewhat limited in his personnel and thus his tactical game planning. However, it wouldn’t surprise me for Howe to have something drawn up against Everton.  I could definitely see the CFs making it tough for Gomes to drop deep or the CM man marking Gomes and Delph. However, I still suggest the 4-4-2 is not the way to go for Bournemouth.   

Transition – When They Win the Ball

Bournemouth turns those interceptions into goal scoring opportunities as quickly as anyone in the league.  Lerma and Billing are the keys either by intercepting passes themselves or receiving quick passes from interceptions from the backline.  Josh King is especially effective at finding space to receive the quick transition pass and Callum Wilson can receive the ball in space with his back to a defender and move it quickly as well.   When in doubt, Bournemouth look for Ryan Fraser on the right. If he is given time and space, he is very consistent in creating goal scoring opportunities for his onrushing teammates.  

Pass is picked off by Ake, immediately finds the CM (Lerma), Lerma plays quickly, eventually gets the ball back and looks for Ryan Fraser, who is making one of his typical overlapping runs. Then Otamendi does…honestly, I have no idea.

That being said, Billing is not an accurate long passer and will give the ball up trying to make plays to spring the counter.  Lerma is much better, but he can make mistakes as well. Everton will have opportunities if they effectively counterpress the CMs after losing it, which they often do.  The Bournemouth back line is smart with the ball, but limited, so they really look to push it to the CMs for distribution.


Bournemouth has been decimated with injuries so far this year.  David Brooks (ankle), Lloyd Kelly (ankle), Arnaut Danjuma (foot), Dan Gosling (hip), Lewis Cook (knee), Simon Francis (knee), Junior Stanislas (hamstring), and Charlie Daniels were all unavailable for the Leicester match.  Cook, Francis, and Stanislas have outside chances of returning, but the others seem unlikely to feature. The Daniels injury in particular forces Howe into some interesting decision on how to use Nathan Ake in either a back 4 or 3 / 5.  Everton only has injury concerns to JP Gbamin. It’s worth noting that each team has players are coming off international performance during the break.


LOST 3-1 at Leicester City.  Jamie Vardy created all sorts of problems with is movement and Bournemouth’s aggressive counter left them open often.  Bournemouth had some chances and defensively while they did take away the short pass to Ndidi, they were exposed in the wide spaces with Leicester Overloads and aggressive central midfield play.  Granted, if Tielemans gets sent off with his horrendous tackle in the second half, the match could’ve been different. Bournemouth gained some momentum in the second half, partially due to Leicester’s reckless desire to go forward and play right into Bournemouth’s counter attacking hands, but a wise sub of Choudhury helped Leicester play more responsibly.  Bournemouth’s bench is also devoid of options. Ibe seemed scared to go forward, Solanke played as almost a 10 and isn’t capable of moving the ball quickly enough to support a fast counter. The match referee seemed a bit in favor of LCFC in my opinion, although Lerma not being sent off later in the second half was another decision beyond belief.  

LOST 1-3 at home against Manchester City.  The first half was interesting and Bournemouth created several chances.  They deployed a 5-4-1 that took away a lot of the wide attack of Man City and only the incredible talent of City gave them 2 goals in the first half.  The passing of City eventually wore Bournemouth down and from the sub of Rodrigo on, City was dominant. Bournemouth generated little after that and Ibe and Solanke subs did little to help.  The injury to Charlies Daniels also will have longer lasting effect on Bournemouth, even if they looked dangerous initially and did score off a brilliant free kick by Harry Wilson. 


A lot of this will depend on what formation Eddie Howe employs.  If it’s a 5-4-1, I believe it could take Everton out of a lot of the things they like to do.  A 4-4-2 with Ake on the right could be a disaster for Bournemouth. The Bournemouth right side has virtually no attacking danger and Digne with support from either Bernard / Iwobi and Gomes from the back, Kean up top would cause all sorts of problems for Bournemouth.  Either way, if Bournemouth lines up in a 4-4-2, Everton should mimic Leicester’s passing sequences and have success on either side.

Regardless of tactics, the match could pivot on a couple of key matchups:

Keane vs. Wilson.  If Keane (and the referee) can contain Wilson without getting called for fouls, it can negate a significant outlet for Bournemouth.

Coleman/Richarlison vs. Ryan Fraser.  If Everton get aggressive on the right side of attack (as they often do with help from Gylfi Sigurdsson) and DON’T take care of the ball (as they often do with help from Gylfi Sigurdsson), Richarlison’s ability to track back quickly and help Coleman could help neutralize the primary source of Bournemouth’s chances.  Fraser needs to be closed down at all times. Fabian Delph will probably be deployed to help a bit in this regard as well.

Moise Kean vs. Cook/Mepham.  If Kean is active with intelligent movement, much like Vardy did, he can create opportunities on the break, especially behind attacking FBs.  If Everton can thwart the Bournemouth counter and look quickly to break back, Moise Kean could get his first goal or even goals for the club.    

In general, if Everton takes care of the ball, they will likely do well.  Gomes will have opportunities with the ball as will the CBs from deep. Everton will likely have the ball a lot as well.  Avoiding the turnover directly to Lerma and Billing is key. When the ball is turned over, Everton need to keep their shape to successfully counter press.  A successful counter press can neutralize the Bournemouth counter, force turnovers (and resulting cards) by the Bournemouth CMs who are often ambitious with their distribution, and lead to immediate goal scoring opportunities due to a Bournemouth defense that outside of Ake lacks the ability to defend in space.  


Everton 1, Bournemouth 1.  I’m going to assume that childhood Everton fan, Eddie Howe wisely has Bournemouth start out in a 5-4-1, attempts some level of man marking of Gomes/Delph, and Everton doesn’t take care of the ball well enough or the lack of pace from Mina / Kean / Gomes prohibits their ability to stop some of the Bournemouth counter attack.  However, the Everton pressure does benefit from some sloppy play from Billing and Lerma, and Kean is effective on the break. That being said, if Bournemouth plays 4-4-2 and Everton is patient, or if Bournemouth struggles with Everton’s pressure, it could be a big day for the Toffees.

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