Watford 2 - 3 Everton
It’s not often that Theo Walcott completes 90 minutes these days. Indeed, before today he hadn’t managed it since the final day of last season at Tottenham — also the last time he had scored — and had it not been for Fabian Delph’s dismissal in the 72nd minute of today’s game, it’s possible he would have been hooked again well before the end.
Such are the quirks of fate that meant that the winger, a rival to Delph for worst performer in Blue on the day, remained on while Dominic Calvert-Lewin was sacrificed for the introduction of Michael Keane to shore up the back and was there in the final minute of regulation time to score a dramatic winner that capped an equally stunning Everton comeback from 2-0 down.
If Carlo Ancelotti’s men needed to get the final minute or so of that Newcastle game out of their system, this certainly did the trick and they managed to exorcise a few other demons in the process, not least Marco Silva’s failure to engineer victory from a losing position during his stewardship of the team. The last time an Everton side had come back from being down before today was in December 2017 and the last time they’d overcome a 2-0 deficit away from home was under Roberto Martinez when they beat West Bromwich Albion in 2015.
This Everton team also doesn’t score from corners and yet today, thanks to Yerry Mina goals that come around like buses, they bagged two and then stymied Watford enough when they were a man down to allow for the counter-attack that led to Walcott becoming the unlikely hero of what was ultimately an unforgettable afternoon.
There’s no glossing over the fact though that this was a poor game and a poor display overall, one that, at 0-2 and 2-2 with Everton a man down, turned the mind towards the summer and the rebuilding work that needs to be done under the new boss. But after a thrilling conclusion, Evertonian eyes are now low looking up the table again and pondering what is possible abetween now and May.
Given the season they had to endure prior to mid-December and the misery the travelling Blues have experienced this season — that heart-breaking reverse at Brighton uppermost in mind — you can’t begrudge Everton the finalé they were able to savour and the result that lifts them back into the top half.
With Richarlison fit after missing the last two games with a knee complaint, Ancelotti had a dilemma in attack over whether to restore his most effective strike partnership and drop Moise Kean back to the bench immediately after he had finally opened his account or try and find a way of playing all three in the same starting XI.
The manager opted for the former and also brought Gylfi Sigurdsson back instead of Morgan Schneiderlin while Alex Iwobi, fit again after six weeks out with a hamstring injury, came in for Bernard whom Ancelotti appears to regard as being more effective at home than away. The fact that the Italian no doubt anticipated a robust midfield battle against a big, physical Watford side might also have influenced his decision.
A stern test in midfield is what Everton got in a first half where they largely most the battle in that area of the park. Watford, much improved over the past couple of months under Nigel Pearson, were quicker to the ball and hungrier going forward and it wasn’t a complete surprise when they went ahead after just nine minutes.
And it was that void that frequently opens up behind Djibril Sidibé on Everton’s right into which Etienne Capoue dropped a diagonal ball to Gerard Deulofeu who brought it out of the air deftly and laid the ball to Adam Masina who had driven forward completely untracked by Walcott. He fired a shot into the ground, past Pickford’s left glove and inside the far post to score .. of course.. his first ever goal for the Hornets.
Eight minutes later, Jordan Pickford came haring out of his box to collect a long ball dropped in behind the visitors’ defence and did well to get his body behind it and pass it to a team-mate down the left flank.
For their part, Everton were generally struggling to get things going after a promising early move that ended with Iwobi squaring a ball to Richarlison which the latter scooped disappointingly over. Truth be told, the Brazilian looked decidedly rusty throughout until he produced a terrific run on the counter to lay on the pass that led to the winner but he wasn’t alone in being out of sorts.
Sigurdsson was struggling to cope on the defensive side in midfield, particularly against Abdoulaye Doucouré and even some of Mason Holgate’s early passes forward searching out Walcott went well astray. Delph, meanwhile, couldn’t provide much inspiration, although he did embark one excellent jinking run straight through the centre of Watford’s midfield with four options ahead of him and ended up wasting it with a horrendous pass that went straight to a yellow jersey.
At the back, despite enjoying a five-inch height advantage over his opponent, Yerry Mina battled to cope with Troy Deeney and won just one aerial duel with the Midlander before Ancelotti switched strategies and employed Sigurdsson to jump with him allowing Mina to mop up the second ball.
However, it was a dreadful error from Delph that led to Watford their second goal when he gifted the ball straight to Deeney outside his penalty area and the striker paused before playing Roberto Pereyra in to drive a shot past Pickford three minutes before half-time.
Just as they did at West Ham a fortnight ago, however, Everton pressed in the dying phases of the first half and were rewarded when Masina headed behind under pressure from Calvert-Lewin and Lucas Digne stepped up to take the Blues’s first corner of the game in the first minute of time added on. His flighted ball towards the back post was met by Mina who out-muscled two defenders to get to it, the ball dropped to Holgate who couldn’t force it past the man on the line but it finally broke nicely back to Mina who prodded home.
That would end up being more than just a fillip to take into the dressing room because to minutes later, Everton would score from their second corner after Pereyra had blocked Digne’s attempted cross. Sigurdsson took the honours this time from the opposite side and he swung his delivery over everyone except Mina who easily stepped in front of Craig Cathcart to plant a downward header into the unoccupied side of Foster’s goal to make it 2-2.
Suddenly the whole complexion of the game had changed and with fresh instructions from Ancelotti ringing in their ears, the Blues emerged for the second half with much more intensity and tempo about their game. An early free-kick from Sigurdsson almost yielded a goal when Calvert-Lewin’s header bounced off Cathcart and flew narrowly over but despite the overall improvement from Ancelotti’s men, chances were few and far between.
And they were still prone to potentially damaging mistakes like Digne’s ill-advised pass inside for Delph that led to the latter over-stretching and bringing Pereyra down, earning himself a booking in the process just before the hour mark.
Nevertheless, with it being a much more even contest and Kean and Schneiderlin having been introduced in place of Iwobi and Sigurdsson, the feeling was that Everton had enough to win against a side that had started the day in the bottom three.
The prospect of victory appeared to evaporate in the 71st minute, however, with the latest of Delph’s bone-headed lapses in judgement. The midfielder had Capoue safely up against the touchline and going nowhere but elected to stab a foot in to try and tackle him and ended up chopping him doing to concede the free kick. As stupid as the supposedly experienced midfielder’s challenge was, it was a ridiculously soft decision by referee Craig Pawson to book him but in making the challenge, Delph had given the officials a decision to make, one heavily influenced by Capoue’s theatrics and the urging of Watford’s players and the crowd, and it ended with Everton finishing the game with 10 men.
Ancelotti sacrificed Calvert-Lewin for Keane, moving the excellent Holgate into midfield alongside Schneiderlin and the move proved to be an inspired one, giving Everton the defensive solidity to ensure that Watford were held at bay despite their late pressure and the platform from which to spring the decisive counter-attack.
Masina couldn’t bring Holgate’s defensive header from Mariappa’s long throw under his spell and Kean nipped it off his toe into the path of Richarlison who raced off down the left with two yellow jerseys in tow while his strike partner and Walcott sped forward with to his right. The Brazilian delayed he got within 10 yards of the box before slipping it in to Kean who, depending on your point of view, either missed his kick or helped it on to Walcott who arrived at the back stick in time to steer home a composed finish and win the game for the Toffees in the 90th minute.
The release of emotion, perhaps pent up from that frustrating conclusion to Everton’s last game, was palpable as all the players and substitutes mobbed Walcott near the corner flag in front of the delirious away fans.
Indeed, this was the perfect, albeit slightly mad, antidote to the utter emptiness with which Toffees fans greeted the final whistle against Newcastle. Whereas that draw with the Magpies had seen Everton throw away two points at the end of arguably their best performance of the season, today they first looked to have retrieved a point from a seemingly lost situation and then they grabbed all three just when it looked as though a draw would have to be enough after they were reduced to 10 men.
It means that they will finish the weekend in at least 10th place and at most just four points off fifth place with a home game against Palace to come before a fortnight’s break and then a series of fixtures against last season’s top six that present real opportunities for further upward progress. If this is the Ancelotti effect, long may it continue!
Reader Comments (44)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 02/02/2020 at 03:34:55
Have watched the Everton winner several times, I reckon it was a pass from Kean on to Walcott. So he should gain a "Blue Peter" badge (showing my age with that). Walcott took his opportunity brilliantly, too!
2 Posted 02/02/2020 at 06:24:09
3 Posted 02/02/2020 at 08:14:43
With Richarlison and Iwobi back we have plenty of attacking options and Kean is now contributing; it would be great to get Gomes on the field but don't rush him back. Also interesting to see Keane get some minutes, maybe that could free up Holgate for midfield at times, like he did late on.
A good Saturday.
4 Posted 02/02/2020 at 08:46:40
While the debate rages about whether Kean meant the winning goal as a pass or a shot, you simply draw attention to the fact that it doesn't matter.
"Kean nipped it off his toe into the path of Richarlison"... Bingo.
Without Kean starting the counter, we wouldn't have had a goal to debate. That's what really counts.
5 Posted 02/02/2020 at 08:52:05
6 Posted 02/02/2020 at 08:56:54
We seem to be playing with some resolution and determination since the ‘Ancellotti effect, and I'll take a smash and grab because we have been on the other end of them... eg, Brighton.
7 Posted 02/02/2020 at 09:05:33
In the game I am referring to, Crystal Palace vs Sheffield Utd, a Sheffield player was allowed to stay on the field after a bad foul; he was already on a yellow but the referee let the second foul be enough not to use the second yellow, both fouls seemed to me a lot worse than Delph's two yellows.
Referees are the ones to blame for inconsistency in making decisions, both on the field and in the VAR room.
8 Posted 02/02/2020 at 09:08:36
I expect us to win at the moment, other than against the top two. Frankly, I'd rather see us consistently beating those around us and below us first.
He's inherited a team made up of jigsaw puzzle pieces from different boxes and has them third on current form.
You don't have to be a 'fanboy' or an idiot calling him a 'fraud'. You can appreciate someone coming in and doing a good job, with acres of room for improvement.
9 Posted 02/02/2020 at 09:14:20
10 Posted 02/02/2020 at 09:43:53
What caught my eye is Holgate when he moved into midfield. It's a shame that we're so light in the centre-back department because Carlo Ancelotti could do worse than give him an extended run.
A crazy game (crazy couple of games actually) in a crazy season; apart from the usual two, if we put a run together, we could plausibly end up in 4th because all teams are so inconsistent.
I certainly wasn't thinking that after the derby.
11 Posted 02/02/2020 at 10:21:40
Ancelotti has a lot of work to do with this squad, and I just hope we are able to give him the funds he needs to bring in the quality of player he will want. I think what will please him is the young players he has to work with, possibly only Richarlison who has that star quality at present. But Holgate is getting better and better with every game and what a bonus he can acquit himself so well in midfield. DCL and Kean are learning week by week and I am sure Davies will improve under Ancelotti. Also shouldnt forget another young player JJ Kenny will be back in the summer. So a lot to be positive about, lets not forget back in December when Silva was sacked and with a tough fixture list, many on here said they couldnt see where the next win was coming from. But thanks to what Duncan Ferguson did and now carried on by Carlo Ancelotti we are now looking up the table not down.
12 Posted 02/02/2020 at 11:18:00
13 Posted 02/02/2020 at 11:21:57
I would disagree with anybody saying yesterday was 'luck'. Or, if it is lucky, it is remarkable how top managers enjoy more than their fair share of it.
Theo did have a relatively poor game yesterday, but he doesn't hide, and is capable of hurting teams. Certainly Iwobi or Bernard just wouldn't have scored that winner, they wouldn't have had the pace, simple as that. Even Schneiderlin, I was pleased to see how overjoyed he was with Theo's winner, it looks like our brilliant manager is starting to mould a team, something we haven't had for about five years.
14 Posted 02/02/2020 at 11:57:12
The win is very welcome, especially after Newcastle. Most importantly for me is we are now looking like a team. There is a different mood and aura about the club. Players look more focussed, there seems to be more togetherness and more of a will to win.
We have a good squad and some really good young improving players. I imagine most clubs now fear our attack. We have pace, arial strength and goals. Additionally, we have Moise Kean who will be exponentially improving over the next months and years.
I would hope we will be discerning and just focus on one astute quality signing or maybe two in the summer. The right player signed and we will be back in the big time challenging for top 4 and a cup. At the moment there is no team apart from the top two that are streets ahead of us and we are gaining ground as our young players improve.
15 Posted 02/02/2020 at 11:57:20
I was very critical of Carlo after Newcastle and Brighton but today as in his first two games he made little tactical changes which brought about 3 'lucky' wins. This awareness is the big difference between him and Silva and no doubt under Silva we would have gotten 2 points and not 9 from these games.
Detractors have pointed out that we are just playing just as poorly as before, that Ancelotti is getting the breaks and that he has had a decent fixture run and the next month or so will be different gravy. These are all valid but credit has to be given also for his initial impact.
The big thing I like about him is that he seems to know his players and builds his team and system according to those traits. Playing with two up top suits our 3 strikers individual qualities so every player except Tom Davies has been given the best chance to show their attributes to best effect.
Today many will view Bernard's omission as ridiculous considering his form in the last two games. Iwobi was a poor replacement but Carlos idea was spot on as he wanted more energy to compete with their powerful midfield and Bernard has often been a passenger in these types of games. The player perhaps let the manager down. This is what I like is that he tries to manipulate the squad like chess pieces rather than just play his best eleven despite their suitability for the conditions.
On a side note many of our fans have been unsure about Kean but go back and look what happened after his scuffed shot. The player fell to the ground, looked up and desperately tried to get to his feet in anticipation of a sniff of a goal. Obviously Walcott scored but his instinct I haven't seen from a blue since maybe Jeffers.
16 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:00:16
17 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:05:31
18 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:17:03
19 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:31:14
Interesting comments about his tendency to look right, but mu,ch less so left, when passing the ball around in defence.
20 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:36:44
Carry on Carlo !!
21 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:47:48
We are clearly far away from what we should be, our midfield is sub par, none of Sigurdsson, Delph, or Schneiderlin have a future. Huge questions around Davies and doubt many would she'd a year if he was sold.
But the psychology behind the team is transformed. European football is there to be gained this season. 2-3 new central midfielders and we'll be a different proposition next season.
22 Posted 02/02/2020 at 12:53:27
Holgate just gets better. He has proved just as effective in a defensive midfield role as Central defence. Until an alternative emerges, I would persist with him there and partner Keane with Mina at the back. Holgate offers a physical presence combined with a cool, creative head. Sigurrdson has neither. I prayed someone would come in for the Icelander in the transfer window. Clearly nobody is that stupid.
23 Posted 02/02/2020 at 13:58:32
Since the advent of Walsh & Brands, Gueyye seems to have been the only significant buy of value apart from Richarlison who came from the manger's previous club. If you go onto the fanzine sites of clubs we have made expensive buys from there seems to be an immediate outbreak of delirious celebration, Arsenal and City in particular.
24 Posted 02/02/2020 at 14:08:57
25 Posted 02/02/2020 at 14:09:55
He was of course very unlucky to get two yellows. On both occasions it looked like he got a little bit of the ball( I know that these days it doesn't matter if it's from behind). He simply should not have attempted the tackle, and the twat of a Watford player conned the ref.
Defensively we are a bit of a car crash with the line between our defenders and midfield the area of uncertainty.
It was good to see Schniederlin play so effectively, exposing the lacklustre Sigurdsson as a man out of form and fitness.
Holgate was superb and the manager used his subs well negating the loss of Delph.
It was great to see us turn the game on it's head and the spirit in the squad looked excellent as the new coach gets them to play to their strengths.
26 Posted 02/02/2020 at 14:15:09
27 Posted 02/02/2020 at 14:56:14
Bad mistake yesterday for the 2nd goal, and a stupid red card nearly cost us again. He's had a poor season, and I'd move him on to another mug team willing to give us a fee and take his wages.
28 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:07:21
Why is there no come back for the action of the Watford player, who despite not being touched by Delph, rolled all over the place, costing Everton a player for the last twenty minutes, maybe Delph shouldnt have made the tackle, no doubt, in my mind, he shouldnt have been sent off for that final tackle, and the first one didnt look like a yellow to me either.
29 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:15:24
30 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:27:51
Surely a sending off is a major decision, so the fact that VAR, hasnt been introduced to help determine if it was correct, just adds more bemusement, as to actually what its main aim is?
Surely it would be fair, for the ref to be interviewed at the end of the game, and asked to explain his decision, and if he was influenced by his colleague, especially because a sending off, is normally one of the most contentious things in football.
31 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:36:29
32 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:38:28
33 Posted 02/02/2020 at 15:57:36
We all know it could be done, but it seems to me that football or the television companies that pay hugh amounts of money, want controversy.
Imagine at the end of the game a ref saying he was conned, which automatically brought a suspension for the cheat? Not hard to implement, if people got serious, and it might just take away a lot of gamesmanship, now wouldnt that be nice? Especially if they could make it that black and white, that we wouldnt have to hear loads of absolute shite getting talked by ex-players, or maybe Im just asking for too much now!
35 Posted 02/02/2020 at 17:43:06
What a wonderful buy Richarlison has been though and what a great player Holgate has become. When you look at Digne and Calvert-Lewin, there have been some amazing positives amongst the disasters and, if Moise Kean can meet half of his potential, then we are in good shape. Shame on the club forever for Allardyce, Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson.
36 Posted 02/02/2020 at 19:27:23
Just get Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson sent off and we might look half-good!
37 Posted 02/02/2020 at 19:58:47
Watch carefully, his reaction after the 2nd goal; he drops to his knees, and punches the ground 3 times. There was no obvious defensive lapse to explain this; no massive deflection. The logical inference is, that it was frustration at his own performance. I'm not saying he was bad... I'm saying, perhaps, he could have been 5% better.
38 Posted 02/02/2020 at 20:03:17
I suppose firstly, and analysing the immediate aftermath of the last 2 games, had you told me we would take 4 points, I'd have been satisfied. Don't confuse satisfied with pleased but a home win against Newcastle followed by an away point against a Watford team recently "stubbornised" by the appointment of one of those British managers that makes them difficult to beat would have been a decent return in the context of our season to date.
But then we're Everton. Of course we would be cruising in the 93rd minute to Newcastle only to gift them a point. Of course we would be 2 - 0 down in the 45th minute only to go in level by half time & then steal the points in the 90th minute.
Give them their due; this lot keep us guessing & on our toes!! Why on earth would you want to support a normal and predictable football club when you can have Everton?!!
Seriously though, just before half time yesterday, we are nervously looking over our shoulder. Now, even after Tottenham's win today, we are 4 points off 5th & automatic Europa qualification. Given Chelsea could also capitulate as they are intermittent at best, we are 8 off Champions league.
Bizarre season in a bizarre and sub-standard league outside the runaway league leaders and the 2 behind them who are better than the rest. It says a lot about the standard of the league.
In that context, anything is possible so right now I wouldn't like to guess whether we'll finish 5th or 14th!!
39 Posted 03/02/2020 at 04:46:23
40 Posted 03/02/2020 at 05:28:31
41 Posted 03/02/2020 at 07:59:52
I can't believe the criticism he gets.
42 Posted 03/02/2020 at 09:54:51
Could never understand Koeman's fixation with Siggurdsen. He's competent when played a certain way but he's never fitted into the Everton team, and certainly can't fit into the current formation. Too slow to play out wide. Not skillful enough to be a No.10. Not strong enough to play in central midfield. Decent long range shot on him and at time decent footballing instincts but its not enough at his price tag.
I also thought Holgate wasn't going to make it after he seemed to stall at the beginning of last season, but he's looking very special now.
43 Posted 03/02/2020 at 13:26:26
I have to agree, we are a way off challenging for anything yet. However Richarlison is maturing & improving, other young players like Holgate & Calvert-Lewin have improved & are getting better. Kean is beginning to show glimpses of huge promise.
We are looking more like a team now, more gelled & a bit more fight about them.
Still a bit more work to do, in terms of limiting the silly mistakes & passing needs to be a bit crisper.
Bringing the right players in this summer to improve what we have & these new players gelling into the side. Could spark something, lets hope, small steps have happened since Ancelotti has come in, so hears hoping!
44 Posted 06/02/2020 at 05:08:35
45 Posted 06/02/2020 at 13:56:28
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.