Having been knocked out of the League Cup, and with little chance of qualifying for Europe through league position (on current evidence) the FA Cup represents Everton’s best chance of continental football next season. The Toffees have been hugely unpredictable this season, combining wonderful attacking moves with some deplorable defending. The last time Bournemouth faced Everton it ended 3-3, and neutrals will be hoping for more of the same. They’re unlikely to get it though, with both managers set to rotate their squads. Eddie Howe has done remarkabl work with the Cherries and it is telling that they are rarely involved in the relegation conversation. The FA Cup might just be a distraction they don’t need.
Former Tottenham right back Smith has improved beyond all recognition from his time with the North Londoners. Never trusted in the squad and loaned out to various sides (particularly Millwall), Smith looks every inch a Premier League player and will be confident of staying in the league even if the Cherries don’t. Considering the shaky form of Leighton Baines and Arouna Koné’s indifference towards defending, Smith ought to get a couple of chances to carve out an opportunity for someone.
The on-loan Roma midfielder was signed with much fanfare in the winter window but hasn’t set the world alight just yet—trusted with less than 120 minutes of football so far for Bournemouth, he needs to begin asserting himself on matches. Fans aren’t convinced that he has what it takes to impress in the Premier League, and he isn’t a prolific goalscorer with just 22 goals in 152 career appearances. Perhaps this is his moment to shine.
Another new addition to the Premier League, Everton snapped up Niasse as cover for Romelu Lukaku. The 25 year old Senegalese managed 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 8 matches for Lokomotiv Moscow—exciting stats for Everton fans who will be curious to see a player most haven’t heard of before now. A strong dribbler and a good passer, he has the chance here to stake his claim for a spot in the regular line up—although how he links up with Lukaku is anyone’s guess.
Speaking of Everton strikers, fans at Goodison cannot understand why Roberto Martinez persists with Koné—there are few players as inconsistent and infuriating as the ex-Wigan forward. Koné has just 5 goals in 24 appearances for the Toffees this season, a poor return considering the amount of trust placed in him by the manager. Now that they have Niasse it would be very surprising if Koné was still at Goodison Park next season.