Verdict: Everton to Win
Best Odds: 12/5
Slowly slipping Watford host vastly improving Everton for a mid-table grudge match in the Premier League. The Hornets started the season in scintillating form, but have been dropping off for some time now. The Toffees meanwhile have ascended the table under manager Sam Allardyce, and are now looking upwards, rather than over the shoulders at potential relegation rivals.
The Hornets started the season in promising form under manager Marco Silva, losing just once in their first eight games, while beating Arsenal and drawing against Liverpool. They scored 13 times in that stretch of games, and became synonymous with all out offence, which made for some incredibly exciting games to watch. Under Silva however they became incredibly unpredictable as a result of their style, and three consecutive defeats followed the initial eight game run of good form.
After two more big wins and a draw against Tottenham the wheels began to fall off Watford’s successful season, and seven defeats in nine games marked the end of Silva’s time in charge, with Javi Gracia being brought in to steady the ship. The Spanish coach has only managed four games thus far, registering two defeats, one draw, and a shock 4-1 win over Chelsea.
That victory was a flash of what this Watford side can do when on form, and there are a lot of positives to be taken from this season. With 37 goals scored they are the second highest scoring club not in the top six, and both Richarlison and Abdoulaye Doucoure have emerged as impressive talents. The Hornets rarely struggle to score, so if Gracia can sort out their defensive woes then Watford could shoot up the table again.
Javi Gracia has to deal with an extensive list of injuries, including first choice goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, whose back issue could well keep him out of this clash.
In defence both Christian Kabasele and Kiko Femenia have hamstring injuries that make them doubts for this weekend, while Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul and Craig Cathcart all remain out.
Elsewhere Tom Cleverley and Will Hughes also have hamstring issues that will see them miss this game, and Nathaniel Chalobah is still side-lined with a knee problem.
While the results under Sam Allardyce haven’t quite been the ones that everyone expected, the Toffees have been slowly making their way up the table, escaping any relegation anxiety and looking instead towards the higher places. Big Sam’s teams have been famed for being tough to beat and able to grind out results. This Everton side is different however, and they have been incredibly inconsistent, with no real signs of defensive coherence.
In their last ten Premier League games the Merseyside club have won three, drawn three, and lost four. Over that same span of games, they have conceded 17 goals, while scoring ten. Those aren’t figures that suggest a team in particularly good form, and really don’t fit with an Allardyce team.
There are positives however, even aside from their much improved league position. The addition of Theo Walcott in January has injected some pace into Everton’s attack, and the winger has registered two goals and an assist in his first four games for the club. The defensive problem must also be viewed in terms of injuries, as both Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines have been out for much of this season, while Phil Jagielka and new signing Eliaquim Mangala are also missing time.
The Toffees still have a number of defenders out injured, and Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Eliaquim Mangala and Seamus Coleman are all doubts for this game.
Idrissa Gueye has a knock and will face a late fitness test, while James McCarthy’s broken leg will keep him out for some time.
Key Factors to Consider
- Watford have just one win in their last seven Premier League games.
- The Hornets have also not kept a clean sheet in their last 14 games in the top flight.
- Everton have scored six times in their last three games.
- In the same span however the Toffees have also conceded seven goals.
- The last meeting between these two sides ended in a 3-2 win for Everton.
Watford have been really struggling recently, and, as with much of the season, they seem unable to prevent teams from scoring against them. Without the goals they had been bagging at the start of the season however it has been a tough time for the Hornets, who will likely find it difficult against an Everton side that has been improving week by week.
Verdict: Everton to Win
Best Odds: 12/5
Bookmakers: Bet 365
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