‘’The Z-cars Derby?’’… ye Da says, sideways glancing over at you looking for a giggle. ‘’Shut up Dad’’. After what seems an eternity, the Premier League is back as Everton travel to Watford on Saturday at 17:30pm…. Bollocks.
The regular reader out there (I deliberately don’t use the pleural in stating reader not reader’s) will know I don’t trust the words ‘Everton’ and ‘17:30pm kick off’ in the same sentence. Our last 17:30pm win came way back on 17th September 2016. Since then our record is as follows P5 W0 D0 L5, Goals Scored 1/Goals Against 17(!). Add to that our horrendous away form and well, my concerns ahead of this fixture are justified.
Whilst Mangala and Coleman will be a miss, the expected return of Leighton Baines will be a welcome addition to the squad. Onto the good news, Everton quite enjoy this fixture. In fact, in our last 24 meetings, the Toffees have lost only two (W19 D3). One of our most notable wins against Watford came just three months ago when the Blues came from two goals down to win 3-2 in a wild final 30 minutes in which Baines converted a 91st minute penalty, before former blue Tom Cleverley stepped up in the 98th minute to rescue a draw against his former side. But guess what, *SPOLIER ALERT* he missed.
The drama was far from over in this unique tale. In the proceeding weeks, Everton aggressively pursued then Watford manager Marco Silva. Offering the largest compensation package ever for a manager. Watford somewhat ironically rejected the same, only to sack Silva 10 weeks later (LOL!). Silva’s eye fluttering was enough to upset the Hornet’s, but not enough to force the move, thus leaving no Silva lining in this tale (urgh I know, terrible). Everton eventually settled for Sam Allardyce whilst Watford brought in Javi Garcia. Relegation no longer seems on the cards for either, in fact, a melancholy mid-table battle along with the likes of Leicester City and Burnley has ensued, with Europa League qualification most likely on the cards for the victors.
I couldn’t preview this fixture without a nod to our old fling and lover Gerard Deulofeu. His indifferent form for the Toffees left him vulnerable to be shipped out last season under Koeman, however an impressive six months at AC Milan was enough for Barcelona to bring their former youth star back to the Nou Camp in the summer. The move in truth was always destined for failure, Gerry isn’t anywhere near the level of the likes of Messi & co. His January loan move to Watford has worked well so far, although we will be hoping he puts in one of those innocuous performances we became all to accustomed too on Saturday evening.
All in all, this one is hard to call. Whilst on paper this doesn’t look a daunting fixture, our poor away record continues to plague our form. Allardyce could really do with a big away performance to keep the wolves of negativity away…for now. Despite a poor season, seventh is there for the taking and that should be a big enough initiative for Everton to finish strong and win as many games as possible, starting on Saturday.
– David (@DAHughes92)