Bournemouth v Everton preview: Wayne Rooney to return for Toffees
Last Updated: 30/12/17 1:41pm
Everton will welcome back Wayne Rooney when they travel to Bournemouth for Saturday's Premier League clash.
Rooney has missed successive goalless draws against Chelsea and West Brom through illness and boss Sam Allardyce hopes the man with 11 goals in 24 appearances this season will boost his side's attacking threat.
"Wayne is back from illness," he said. "He has been stuck in bed for three days.
"Any quality player who gets fit and returns is a big boost. The only thing we have done recently is transformed the team into a better defensive unit, and that has given us a platform. But I am still a little concerned about the amount of goals we are capable of scoring."
Eddie Howe watched his Bournemouth side rally to claim an injury-time point against West Ham last time out and has drawn plenty of positives from recent performances as his side seek to climb out of the bottom three.
"It was great to see us return to our best against West Ham but for me, it wasn't just the West Ham game; I also thought we looked very good going forward against Chelsea in the cup and away at Manchester United.
"I don't think there has been a lot wrong with our performances at home. We've dropped a few points in games that we probably shouldn't have. The key thing is that we now build on those recent positive performances."
"Everton have built some momentum and confidence in the last month and there's no doubt that they will be tough opposition. That said, we know what we're capable of."
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.
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, Toffees boss Allardyce has said he is "very, very close to being available".
- This will be the 10th competitive meeting between Bournemouth and Everton and the Cherries have only won one of the previous nine (W1 D1 L7) - this coming in their 1-0 Premier League victory at home in September 2016
- The previous five Premier League meetings between these two clubs have produced 22 goals (4.4 per game) - Everton scoring 13 of those and Bournemouth netting nine
- 10 of the 22 goals scored in those previous five fixtures between these two clubs have come in the final 15 minutes of the game (45 per cent)
- Everton haven't ended the year with a Premier League victory since 2013, having lost in their final game of both 2014 and 2015, before drawing with relegated Hull City in 2016
How can Bournemouth score three goals at home against West Ham and not win?
You can put Everton down for zero. It's whether they can stop Bournemouth scoring. It's a big, big game for Bournemouth, and I think they'll just edge it.
The way Bournemouth play, and how open they are, I can't see them not scoring.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)