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Bournemouth's days in the Premier League appear to be numbered.
Facing relegation, the Cherries desperately need a victory in this season finale against host Everton on Sunday at Goodison Park.
The reality of relegation is near to become real for Bournemouth (8-7-22), who enter this contest in the middle of the drop zone on 31 points. They are three points behind 18th-place Watford, who are at the top of the relegation zone, and Aston Villa, who are safe for the moment.
Bournemouth have been part of top-flight play for five consecutive seasons.
"We can only control what we can do," Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told skysports.com. "We've got to try and win a game of football and hope other results fall our way.
"There is belief we can win our game. That is the only thing we can control. It's easier said than done."
The odds would seem quite large for Bournemouth to get it done. They're mired in a 1-2-9 league stretch and were just beaten 2-0 at home by Southampton last weekend in their final home contest of 2019-20. Perhaps making matters even worse, Bournemouth have been outscored 22-5 during a nine-game Premier League road losing streak that dates to a 1-0 victory at Chelsea all the way back on Dec. 14.
"We should have got more points than we have. For whatever reason, we just ended up on the wrong side for a lot of those games," Howe continued to Sky Sports.
"We've got to go to Everton and try to do our bit first. Then, who knows?"
Interestingly enough, one of the Cherries' better efforts this season came during a 3-1 home victory over Everton in the reverse fixture on Sept. 15. Callum Wilson (eight league goals) recorded a brace in that contest for Bournemouth, who will try a fifth time to win their first Premier League match at Goodison Park.
Everton (13-10-14), meanwhile, are safe but can't finish any better than 11th in the table - where they currently reside. It's another rather disappointing season for the Toffees, who continue to underachieve within the confines of the top-flight even though they seem to have talent worthy of a top-six contender. Perhaps it's a matter of heart and team culture that is keeping Everton from bigger and better things.
"Everyone wants to go to the next step, that is to improve," manager Carlo Ancelotti told Everton's official website. "We have to go up. There is no other way. But with an evolution of the team. With better quality, better ambition, better motivation and more passion."
They did, however, manage to end an 0-2-2 league rut with a 1-0 win at Sheffield United earlier this week. Richarlison's goal right out of the second-half gate was the difference for Everton, who last one back-to-back league matches June 24 and July 1. Richarlison's 15 goals over all competitions are tied with Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the team lead. The former has scored in half of his last six Premier League contests.
Updated July 24, 2020