Everton host Watford FC tomorrow in a bit of a pickle. The Blues haven’t been able to score goals since the preseason began, and now they are without three first team midfielders. Marco Silva may have to get water out of a rock this weekend, but thankfully, Watford aren’t any good. How will EFC line up?
Tactics and Formation
Javi Gracia led Watford to a comfortable mid-table finish last season, and signed Ismaila Sarr and Danny Welbeck to refresh their attack this season. They also picked up Craig Dawson on a free from West Bromwich Albion to “solidify” their defense.
Well, they maybe should have focused a touch more on the defense, as the Hornets lost 3-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion last week — a club which scored only 35 goals all of last season.
Gracia fielded a midfield consisting of *checks notes* Will Hughes, Gerard Deulofeu, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Etienne Capoue, in front of a defense consisting of *checks notes three times because surely this can’t be right* Kiko Femenia, Craig Dawson, Craig Cathcart, and Jose Holebas.
The introduction of Sarr and potentially Welbeck could make Watford a real danger on the counterattack, but I expect Silva to throw numbers forward early and often to put pressure on a suspect Watford back six. This lineup will look more or less as you’d expect it to in terms of personnel, but I expect Silva’s tactics to be quite aggressive.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Yerry Mina - 10/10
Michael Keane - 10/10
Seamus Coleman - 10/10
Tom Davies - 10/10
With Fabian Delph (confirmed), Andre Gomes (likely), and Morgan Schneiderlin (definitely) all unavailable, it’s already time to turn to young Tom. He’s got the experience, and it’s a rather large opportunity to stake his place for playing time this season.
Jean-Phillipe Gbamin - 10/10
Silva, we’d imagine, would probably prefer not to have to rely on JPG this early in the season, but the situation at central midfield dictates his presence. There were flashes in the Palace match of the qualities that led Marcel Brands to bring Gbamin to Everton, but also far too many turnovers and mental errors. Hopefully a full week of training as a first XI player will clean those up.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
Bernard - 7/10
Long term, Alex Iwobi looks set to take the starting left wing position from Bernard. But Silva didn’t rush Kean or Gbamin into the starting lineup last week, and we don’t suspect he’ll rush Iwobi into the lineup either.
Moise Kean - 7/10
Morgan Schneiderlin’s red card came shortly after Moise Kean came onto the pitch, so we didn’t really get a good sense of what the Italian will bring up top. But if he was fit enough for 30 minutes last week, it seems likely he’ll be fit enough to start this weekend.
Djibril Sidibe — Seamus Coleman got off to a good start last week, terrorizing Patrick van Aanholt and the Palace left for the entire first half. That’ll reduce the early likelihood that Sidibe surpasses Coleman at the starting right-back position, but his quality will continue put pressure on Everton’s Irish captain.