When Watford visited Goodison Park last November, the Hornets were cruising to a 2-0 victory until the 67th minute when Oumar Niasse netted.
A goal six minutes later from Dominic Calvert-Lewin saw Everton draw level as momentum shifted. A Jose Holebas trip on substitute Aaron Lennon allowed Leighton Baines to convert from the penalty spot to take a 3-2 early into the 11 minutes of added time. Watford would come up short, as Richarlison was fouled by Jordan Pickford, but Tom Cleverley push his spot kick wide, as Everton hung on to a hard earned victory and a vital three points.Embed from Getty Images
This loss was key in Watford’s season as it started a downward spiral, as Watford went on to win just 3 of their next 11 games to finish the year, as rumors and speculation swirled around Marco Silva’s potential move to manage Everton. The Toffees, under caretaker, David Unsworth would go on to drop just 2 matches of the next 11, gaining 19 points moving from 15th to 9th .
Everton visited Vicarage Road under “Big” Sam Allardyce with a single point separating the teams in the middle of the Premier League table. Both teams were vying to remain clear of the relegation zone, as 4 points separated 9th from 18th. Both squad appeared to be stronger this time around, as the January transfer window welcomed Theo Walcott to the Everton and Gerard Deulofeu to Watford, both dynamic down the channel and key going forward for their respective club.
After a win and loss in the last 2 games, Javi Gracia fielded a 4-3-3, while Allerdyce countered with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Watford was overrun in the midfield in gameweek 27 by West Ham, with a 3-4-2-1, playing with wing backs. Everton strong in the midfield with the aforementioned Walcott, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Idrissa Gueye.Embed from Getty Images
Teams combined for just 7 shots on goal in the game, after a dull first half that did generate many offensive chances. Some early jitters were shaken off within minutes, as Watford controlled the ball, dominating possession. The first real chance came in the 11th minute, As Tom Davies controlled the ball and got Niasse on the break down the left side, skipped past Adrian Mariappa to get a angled shot off that was turned away by Orestis Karnezis.
Former Everton man, Deulofeu had a few deep runs down the right side in the first 5 minutes, but none of them leading to real chances at goal. However, the Spaniard looked in good form with some fancy footwork against his old club. Minutes later Davies linked up with Rooney near the center circle, as the found Sigurddson, who let fly from from the top of arch and a routine save from Karnezis.
Everton seemed to gain a foothold in the center of the pitch approaching 20 minutes, which allowed them to dictate play as Davies and Rooney continued to put in a strong effort, pressing Watford. Sigurdsson continued to put in a good shift with numerous crosses, none of which could be converted. As the half progressed it would be the speed and sharpness of Deulofeu and Richarlison down the wings that was causing problems for Everton just around the half hour mark. Yet Watford was unable to get anyone on the crosses that made their way into the box.Embed from Getty Images
As Anthony Taylor blew for half time, the players walked off the pitch at 0-0. A real lack of creativity by either club causing any real chances through the first 45 minutes. The first real chance in the second half came from Watford as Roebrto Pereyra chipped a the ball at the top of the box for Troy Deeney to run onto, but ushered off the ball by Jonjoe Kenny.
Everton continued to play through Walcott down the left side. Rooney played a diagonal pass as the former Arsenal man brought it down for Davies who was played off the ball by Mariappa to stem the attack. The best chance of the half came on 52 minutes as Walcott played the ball out of the right corner to Gueye, who looped a ball into Michael Keane, who got a head on it but sent it wide with Davies chasing.
Hornets opted for the first change, after their best chance in the 54th minutes from a Deeney header, chipped in by Pereyra from the right side. Gracia brought on Stefan Okaka for Pereyra and Kiko Femenia for Richarlison in the 57th minute and shifted to a 4-4-2 formation giving the Hornets 30 minutes to look for a way through the Everton defense. Femenia made his welcomed return to the pitch after 11 weeks off nursing a thigh injury. Big Sam countered a moment later introducing Cenk Tosun for Niasse up front, as Niasse was a non factor in the Everton attack.Embed from Getty Images
Deulofeu continued his dominance down the wing for Watford, drawing defenders, but was not able to get that final ball in. The 59th minute saw a scare as Deulofeu went down with an ankle injury as he battle Tosun. After a breather on the sideline, he returned to the pitch but wouldn’t be able to continue as he was substituted and made his way from the pitch, down the tunnel. The Peruvian, Andre Carillo stripped down and replaced Deulofeu down the right side for the remainder of the game.
Watford seemed to take control of the game around the 70th minute with a calm and composed urgency. The 74th minute saw Deeney win the ball and fed Abdoulaye Doucoure across the center line, eventually wide to Carillo down the left, as he played it back inside the 18 yard back to Doucoure, feeding Okaka who sent a ball across the mouth of the goal.
Everton continued to repel the attacks from Watford as teh game progressed, but it would become too much to deal with in the 79th minuet. A real team effort as Watford controlled the ball in the Toffees half leading up a Capoue shot that missed left. A scramble for the ball moments later as Pickford attempted to clear back pass by Ashley Williams that hit the shoulder of Deeney, rebounding to Femenia sending a shot that glanced off the outstretched hand of Pickford to fend off a sure goal.Embed from Getty Images
The goal for Deeney, after great pressure in the Everton end of the pitch, as Okaka started the final charge, feeding Femenia as he cut in from the righttowards the top of the box. Okaka continued his run and Femenia spotted him, as Okaka sent the ball into the penalty spot as Deeney blasted a right footed, the winner into the top right corner, out of reach of Pickford, to secure the win for Watford, 1-0.
It was a well earned 3-points for the Hornets, as they took control of the game and made the necessary adjustments on the hour mark by Gracia. The win put Watford on 33 points and 10th spot in the table after West Ham lost. Everton retained the 9th spot, just a single point ahead of the Hornets.
Written by Stephen Toumi.