PREVIEW | Everton vs Watford

Everton are looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing home defeat to West Ham United. The defeat was the Toffees second of the season, which left Rafa Benitez’s side with one win in the last four.

Angelo Ogbonna’s goal in the 74th minute was enough to settle a drab affair between the two sides. The win lifted the Hammers up to seventh, one place above the Blues.

Watford on the other hand will be looking for a response after the 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool at the weekend. Claudio Ranieri’s first game in charge was an abysmal performance from the Hornets, with goals from Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and a hattrick for Roberto Firmino condemning them to their second consecutive defeat.

Everton’s impressive start to the season under Rafa Benitez has tailed off a little in recent weeks, as injuries begin to mount up.

Abdoulaye Doucouré, arguably the best player for the Blues so far this season, suffered a stress response in a bone in his foot during the defeat to West Ham, and looks to be side-lined for at least six weeks. Additionally, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has suffered a set-back from his return from injury, with Benitez commenting the striker could be out for ‘four or five weeks’.

The injuries keep piling up for the Toffees, with the confirmation that Yerry Mina will miss the clash with the Hornets due to a minor hamstring problem. André Gomes is also still out with a calf injury, although Fabian Delph returned to first-team training this week, but is unlikely to feature.

Youngsters Tyler Onyango, Luke Butterfield and Ryan Astley have all trained with the first-team this week.

One positive is the return of Richarlison, who is fit again to face his former club. The Brazilian has been out with a knee injury picked up in the 3-1 win against Burnley on 13th September but is now fit and available for tomorrow’s game.

Former Everton striker Josh King is back in contention for Watford tomorrow after missing last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool with a knee-injury. King has five goals in nine games against the Blues, the joint-most of any opponent.

Fullback Kiko Femenía is a doubt with a hip injury and will be assessed before the trip to Goodison Park. Francisco Sierralta, Christian Kabasele and Peter Etebo are all out with injuries.

One to Watch – Everton

Richarlison’s return to the squad is a massive boost to Everton. The former Watford forward has only made four appearances so far this season, with his only goal coming in the opening weekend of the season.

However, the last time the teams met at Goodison, in the EFL Cup, he scored the second goal in a 2-0 win.

So far this season, the 24-year-old has an average rating of 7.1 on WhoScored, after scoring one and assisting another in the four games that he has played. Richarlison is known for his defensive contribution, and this hard work and resilience has potentially what has been missing from this Everton side in recent weeks.

Another strength noted by WhoScored is his heading, with nine of his Premier League goals scored this way.

Richarlison does have his weaknesses though, with his offside awareness perhaps being his biggest one. There have been plenty of times over the last three seasons when Everton have got themselves into a good position, but the Brazilian has strayed offside causing the move to break down. This is something that he will need to consider this weekend.

One to Watch – Watford

Senegalese forward Ismaïla Sarr has been in fine form for the Hornets this season, scoring four goals in eight games so far. The 23-year-old has been subject of interest from some of England’s biggest clubs, and if he keeps up his good start to the season, they could be calling again soon.

He has an average rating of 7.03 so far this season, and his strengths include his dribbling and his finishing.

However, his biggest weakness is his defensive contribution. This is again something that Benitez and his side could look to exploit in tomorrow’s clash, though fullbacks Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne will be up against a tricky customer when Watford are on the front foot.

Tomorrow’s meeting between the two sides marks the seventh time that Rafael Benitez and Claudio Ranieri have gone head-to-head, with Benitez winless against the Italian.

However, the Toffees are undefeated at home against tomorrow’s opponents, with six wins and two draws. This run includes three victories in a row.

Despite the notable absences of Abdoulaye Doucouré, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina, Everton should still have a strong enough squad to see off this Watford side. Plus, the return of Richarlison is a big positive, as the Toffees look to get back to winning ways.

Prediction: 3-0.

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