Despite facing severely weakened opposition whose relegation has already been sealed, plus an away end bouncing with songs of support, Frank Lampard’s Everton were unable to break the 0-0 deadlock at Vicarage Road and take a huge step towards Premier League survival. Although the manager’s frustration was evident at full-time, the facts show that Everton are in pole position to avoid the unthinkable and put an end to what has been a truly disastrous season.
There’s a similar theme amongst teams who manage to escape the drop zone despite a wretched season: the ability to keep clean sheets in the clutch. Although Everton’s apathy going forward was very frustrating to watch, keeping the ball out of Pickford’s net must be priority number one during the home stretch, and Everton did a fantastic job of that. In fact, the England international did not face a single shot on target across the 90 minutes.
Despite Everton’s failure to claim three points against an already relegated side, that point gained combined with Leeds’ crushing loss at the hands of Chelsea meant Everton’s chance of being relegated was nearly cut in half, lowering from 10% to just 6% according to FiveThirtyEight’s Premier League Predictions. With two home fixtures up next and a game in hand remaining, it would require a bottle job of proportions never seen before to undo the progress made in the victories over Chelsea and Leicester. Knock on wood.
After today's results, @FiveThirtyEight's Premier League projections give Everton just a 6% chance of being relegated, with Burnley at 29%, and favorites Leeds at 65%.— Garrett Post (@ParrettGost) May 11, 2022
There are no two ways about it: Watford are truly a dreadful side and are one that Everton should be definitely beating. Watford had not picked up a point at home since miraculously defeating Manchester United 4-1 in November. You read that right. November. It’s difficult not to think about how big of a missed opportunity this was for Everton to grab the bull by the horns.
Everton drawing a blank against an already relegated Watford, who were walking wounded, previously without a clean sheet at home all season and on an 11-game losing streak at Vicarage Road is one of the most Everton things you'll ever see— Richard Buxton (@RichardBuxton_) May 11, 2022
It’s hard to argue that Everton played even remotely well at Vicarage Road on Wednesday, but the statistics show they probably deserved to win regardless. They registered 16 shots to Watford’s 6 and 5 shots on target to Watford’s 0. Lampard’s men did not capitalize on the 13 corners they earned, but they held the Hornets to just 1. Foster’s save on Richarlison’s deflected effort and Demarai Gray’s shot pulled wide were the two best chances for the Toffees, and on another day, they would’ve gone back to Merseyside with the three points they likely deserved.
Watford (0.25) 0-0 (1.07) Everton— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) May 11, 2022
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Although Evertonians will struggle to view this result as a point gained, that extra cushion over Leeds United means the Toffees can escape the relegation battle once and for all on Sunday should they beat Brentford and should Brighton get a win or draw at Elland Road in the earlier game. Although a draw vs Brentford with a Leeds loss would not be enough to mathematically secure survival, Leeds’ subsequent ceiling of points would be level with Everton’s floor at 37, but a swing in goal difference north of 20 would be needed to see Leeds escape should they win their final game and should Everton lose their last two. Although it wouldn’t be officially confirmed, that scenario would still be enough to effectively ensure the presence of Premier League fixtures at Goodison Park next season. Here’s hoping.