Everton vs Watford

Saturday, 4 November, 2017 0comments  |  Jump to last
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Wayne Rooney is expected to return to the lineup after staying behind for the trio to Lyon

Everton host Watford this weekend in a fixture that has grown in importance with the need for a confidence-boosting win has grown following the Blues' latest European disaster.

The 3-0 defeat in Lyon on Thursday confirmed that the club cannot progress to the next stage of the Europa League, leaving all focus on the Premier League where they haven't won since 23rd September.

Everton will kick off the match sitting second from bottom thanks to Bournemouth's win at Newcastle but would close the gap to mid-table safety with three points if David Unsworth is able to gather his players together and find a winning formation.

His approach will be different to Thursday evening, with a number of rested players likely to return, Oumar Niasse eligible again and Michael Keane possibly in contention after overcoming a leg infection brought on by a badly gashed foot.

Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney and Tom Davies were all left out of the Lyon game and could all feature in the starting XI depending on how Unsworth wants to set his team up.

Two players who won't be involved are Cuco Martina who will be sidelined for two weeks by the neck injury he sustained in that awkward fall the other night while James McCarthy is dealing with his latest soft-tissue problem, a hamstring strain that will also keep him out until after the international break.

Unsworth has already used a wide selection of players and varying permutations, including Thursday's surprising striker-less line-up but he could go back to a more orthodox team for this one, with Rooney and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as forwards and a three-man central midfield unit.

Beni Baningime's latest star turn is likely to earn him another start but Morgan Schneiderlin, overlooked in the last league game and sent off again in Lyon, could find himself back on the bench again, if only for his lack of discipline.

The visitors have been in impressive form under new manager Marco Silva it's no surprise that the Portuguese has been heavily linked with the Everton job as a result.

The Hornets were as high as sixth place in the table and have dropped to ninth on the back of successive League defeats and the weekend results so far but can close the gap to the top seven again with a win. They have already won at Swansea, Southampton and Bournemouth and will be fancying themselves against a struggling Blues outfit.

Unsworth has couched this match and the next few after it as being akin to cup finals in terms of the approach Everton need to take, a reflection of how quickly the team could get bogged down in the quagmire of a relegation scrap.

He has also highlighted the need for the players to circle the wagons after they have conceded goals to avoid the collapses that have characterised many of the Blues' heaviest defeats this season.

That speaks to a need for mental fortitude and more unity and team spirit than has been in evidence in recent weeks. Unsworth's temporary tenure had been expected to provide it following what appeared from the outside to be a less-than nurturing environment under Ronald Koeman but thus far, an upturn in morale hasn't materialised.

Now would be the time…

Kick-off: 4.30pm, Sunday 5th November, 2017
Referee:
Last Time: Everton 1 - 0 Watford

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Gueye, Baningime, Davies, Lennon, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin