No respite for Allardyce after first defeat in Everton dugout
There is no let-up for Everton and no respite for Sam Allardyce after his first defeat since taking over at Goodison Park in November.
Today, they face Manchester United. On Friday, they take on Liverpool in the FA Cup and then, completing the hat-trick of formidable fixtures, they meet Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
After a run of seven games without losing, it is conceivable they may not win again until deep into January.
That is the reality with which Allardyce has been confronted after his side produced such a purposeless performance against an energetic Bournemouth, who should have won by a far greater margin than one late goal.
Ryan Fraser plundered the Cherries' first league victory since November thanks to a last-gasp strike that flew home via a heavy deflection off visiting defender Michael Keane.
Idrissa Gueye's second-half goal had cancelled out Fraser's opener before the Bournemouth winger pounced again to end Allardyce's seven-match unbeaten start to life in the Toffees' hot seat.
"If you are going to be successful in the Premier League you have got to beat the teams below you, and you certainly don't lose to them," said Allardyce.
"We've lost against Bournemouth, which puts on pressure to make it up somewhere, and it may have to be against a bigger club. We have to pick ourselves up."
Everton will, however, take encouragement from the return of Wayne Rooney ahead of this evening's meeting with United.
Having missed two games through illness, Rooney was introduced at half-time on Saturday, and will surely start against his former club.
"It's only a virus and not an injury," said Allardyce. "Getting 45 minutes will be good for him."
It is less clear, though, whether James McCarthy, who struggled on his first league appearance of the season, and Yannick Bolasie, who featured in the last 20 minutes, will be available from the start after overcoming injury.
"I'm juggling McCarthy and Yannick not being match fit," said Allardyce. "They will certainly have to play better against United than they did today."
As is the way in this flurry of festive fixtures, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe also has injury problems to navigate ahead of their trip to Brighton.
Striker Josh King limped off with a hamstring injury, while defenders Adam Smith and Nathan Ake were suffering from knocks by the time Fraser's second had earned three points.
Bournemouth's victory moved them clear of the relegation zone and ended a run of eight league games without a win. ©Daily Telegraph, London.