Belfast Telegraph

Eddie Howe hopes bright start prevents survival scrap for Bournemouth

The Cherries have taken seven points from nine.

Eddie Howe hopes Bournemouth’s strong start will prevent a repeat of last season’s uphill battle to stay in the Premier League.

The Cherries have picked up seven points from their opening three fixtures after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Everton on Saturday.

Howe’s side lost their first four top-flight games last campaign and were in the relegation zone at Christmas before fighting back to finish in mid-table.

“We know how we felt this time last year; three games, no points and then it got even worse,” said Howe.

“We had a mountain to climb, we managed to climb it in the end but certainly you don’t want to be in the position where you are having to catch other teams and you have that mindset so early in the season.

“This year’s slightly different but we know how difficult every game is in this league so we need to maximise every game.”

Second-half goals from Theo Walcott and Michael Keane put Everton in control at the Vitality Stadium.

But Joshua King’s penalty and Nathan Ake’s close-range finish salvaged a point for the hosts to extend their unbeaten run following victories over Cardiff and West Ham.

Both teams finished the pulsating encounter with 10 men after Richarlison was sent off for a first-half headbutt on Adam Smith before the Cherries defender was himself dismissed for bringing down Walcott as he raced clear at 1-0.

In addition to the positive results, Howe finally has summer signings Jefferson Lerma and Diego Rico available for selection.

Colombia midfielder Lerma, who cost a club-record £25million from Levante, was an unused substitute against the Toffees and is set for his debut in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup clash with MK Dons.

Left-back Rico is also in contention to play in that game after completing a three-match ban following a red card for former club Leganes.

“Physically, he’s now getting to where we want him to be so we’re excited to see him play,” Howe said of Lerma.

“Excited to see both players perform and I’m sure they will add a lot to the team.”

Walcott’s opener was his second goal in two games after he was on the scoresheet against former club Southampton last weekend.

The former Arsenal forward thinks Everton have performed impressively in their first three games under manager Marco Silva and expects further improvement.

“We train so hard, the philosophy the manager has dug into the players is starting to show. We are playing with freedom,” he told the Everton website.

“We are looking good, looking strong but there is more improvement to come, I’m sure.”

Saturday’s match ended in subdued circumstances after Everton defender Keane was stretchered off in stoppage time and taken to hospital following a nasty clash of heads with team-mate Idrissa Gueye.

“I’m praying he’s OK,” added Walcott. “It was a great finish from him for the goal but all the guys will be behind him and hopefully he can recover very soon.”

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