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Everton 1 - Watford 0: Ross Barkley Strike Seals Nervy Victory

Three thoughts on the final home game of the season

Everton v Watford - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton ended the home campaign with a 1-0 win over Watford. Ross Barkley scored a thunderous strike from distance in the second half to seal the win. Here are our initial thoughts from the match:

Everton needs to improve their mentality for next year.

After an excellent 15 minutes to start the game, Everton reverted to their disinterested form for the rest of the game. Gone were the excellent runs, combination passing, and threatening shots. Instead Everton swung the ball wide and hoped someone would get on the end of a cross. They took the easy way out to try and score rather than putting in the effort for some dynamic opportunities.

As long as Everton continues to make the easy decision with the ball rather than press up the middle of the pitch we will see nervy wins, frustrating draws, and inexplicable losses. This squad is at its best when making dashing attacks. Ross Barkley’s goal to open the scoring is a perfect example. Rather than swinging the ball wide he drove forward and forced the defense to make a decision before taking an excellent strike.

Even after the Barkley goal Everton didn’t look particularly interested in the game. There were some more runs into dangerous positions, but it wasn’t anything you could describe as regular or interesting.

Mason Holgate is not the answer at RB.

Thankfully this mistake only lasted for 45 minutes tonight, but Mason Holgate is not fit to play RB in the modern Premier League. He does not have the attacking ability managers expect from their wing backs. Going forward Holgate needs to be confined to the central defense until he is able to properly get forward and at least put a decent cross in or play the ball to midfield.

It is telling that Tom Davies slid into RB at halftime and provided more than Holgate did. It speaks to the changes we’ve seen in the modern game and the responsibilities of wing backs. To be fair it also doesn’t help that this was not the game for a more static defender like Holgate. Watford was always going to invite an attacking presence on the outside. Had this been a game where Everton needed to turtle and defend Holgate may have been a better option. That said, this summer Koeman needs to find a backup for Seamus Coleman, and maybe a replacement for Leighton Baines....

Everton’s reliance on Morgan Schneiderlin is dangerous.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. An Everton player goes out injured and the squad suffers. They look disjointed, unable to attack, and pretty boring. Ultimately the squad drops points and it costs them a position or two in the table. Maybe even a run in a cup depending on the time of year.

Once again we see it with Everton and Morgan Schneiderlin. When the Frenchman is fully fit Everton looks dynamic and has a real attacking presence, even if the effort from everyone is lacking. But when Schneiderlin is out of the squad things just don’t flow well. One of the big concerns this summer will be finding a way to ensure that the attacking prowess needed for earning a top four spot. Schneiderlin was the dynamic force tonight against Watford, but he can’t play in every game next year and it appears that no one in the current squad is willing to step up and be that attacking linchpin.