After the disappointment of the opening day, one of those games that you felt Everton need to start winning if they’re to improve on last season, there was a feeling around this first home fixture of the new campaign that a victory, however it was engineered, was paramount.
Seeing Goodison Park in full voice with 38,000 blue-and-white flags waving as the blaring siren gave way to Z-Cars and Everton then taking an early lead, it felt as though a more convincing result was in store than ultimately proved to be the case but a win is a win; three points are three points.
In truth, this was one of those games that could easily have ended in an irritating draw and the Blues have contrived to throw away two points or more on so many occasions in recent years that it would have come as little surprise if they had. Certainly, when at times there didn’t seem to be much of a central midfield, with André Gomes looking like he was playing with the benefit of pain-killing jabs and Jean-Pierre Gbamin fading after an impressive start, or when Watford launched their aerial bombardment in the last quarter of the game, you couldn’t help but sense a dreaded equaliser in the offing.
But this is an Everton team that, stretching back into last season, has now kept 10 sheets in its last 13 Premier League matches and hasn’t conceded a goal at home since the beginning of February. Despite the departure of Kurt Zouma, Michael Keane has simply picked up where he left off last season and Yerry Mina is quickly converting the doubters (guilty, M’Lud!) with two towering displays to start 2019-20. And in Jordan Pickford, Marco Silva has inherited a player capable of preserving winning positions with his bravery, presence of mind and sheer shot-stopping ability… even if that sometimes means keeping the ball out with his face!
If a solid defensive foundation appears to be in place — so long as the two first-choice centre-halves stay fit, that is — the fluidity and potency of the attack looks like it will take more time. Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, in particular, have yet to pair their industry off the ball with effectiveness on it, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin, full of running and work-rate himself, still doesn’t look like the best fit for Silva’s current system, at least in terms of providing a goal threat. The 22-year-old didn’t have a shot during his 72 minutes on the field whereas his replacement, Moise Kean, quickly demonstrated that he already fits the profile and he could have scored twice which really would have put the seal on the afternoon.
Thankfully, while chances were at a premium and Richarlison spurned two really good ones, Bernard proved to be the difference on the day. The little Brazilian has taken his time to adjust to life in England and exhibited more than a touch of reluctance to shoot last season, preferring instead to lay the ball off. Today, however, in what is hopefully a sign of his growing confidence, he went on his own and was richly rewarded.
The match was 10 minutes old at the time, with Everton having established themselves in the ascendency with a strong start, particularly in the middle of the park and down the right flank. It was the left-sided partnership who combined for the goal, however, when Lucas Digne swept a sublime ball down the left channel, despatched from in front of his own area for Bernard to chase. The No. 20 cut inside showing all the signs of looking to play in a team-mate but and instead fired an early, low shot inside the near post and past Ben Foster before the goalkeeper could react.
So far, so good for Silva’s men who were looking a good deal more inventive than they had been at Selhurst Park last weekend. As the only player among the new singings to be making his home debut, the eye was drawn particularly to Gbamin who was being entrusted with plenty of the ball and he showed in consistent flashes over the first half hour that he can be both a physical but also enterprising presence in the heart of the midfield.
Watford would pose a regular threat from set-pieces, however, and they came close to cancelling out Bernard’s goal midway through the first half. The second of successive corners was floated to the back post where Craig Dawson rose above Dominic Calvert-Lewin but Pickford was relieved to see the defender’s header come back off the post.
Calvert-Lewin had a penalty claim waved away soon afterwards before a lovely Everton ended with Digne unable to properly test Foster with a volleyed effort in the 29th minute but the home side began lose to their way after the passage of the half-hour mark.
Indeed, Everton became really sloppy at times during the final quarter of an hour before the break. José Holebas curled a free kick past the far post after Digne had harshly been adjudged to have fouled Will Hughes and Gerard Deulofeu was denied a penalty of his own even after a VAR check when he went sprawling in the box under Mina’s challenge.
Then, after Bernard had been fouled at one end and Richarlison had planted a free header from Sigurdsson’s free-kick disappointingly into the Park End, Etienne Capoue almost stole in to meet a Watford free-kick from their left flank but the ball bounced wide.
The second period didn’t start in encouraging fashion either. Gomes got caught in possession almost immediately, ended up fouling his man and collected a booking as well and the resulting Watford move ended with three successive corners, all of which were successfully repelled.
Everton remained the more dangerous of the two sides going forward, however, but it wasn’t to be Richarlison’s day in the final third. Sent into space down the right by Pickford’s strong bowl out from the back with 57 minutes on the clock, the Brazilian charged forward but gave the ball straight to Capoue.
The Frenchman surged away on the counter-attack and fed Deulofeu who accelerated between Digne and Richarlison and knocked the ball into the path of Deeney by the penalty spot but Pickford was off his line quickly and took the shot squarely in the face to preserve the clean sheet.
Then, in the 60th minute, when he himself had been dragged back unceremoniously by Holebas, Richarlison was picked out again by Sigurdsson unmarked in the box but he headed over for a second time. It would be the Brazilian’s last significant involvement before Silva made his first substitution but it was Theo Walcott and not Alex Iwobi who was introduced.
Typically robust and tenacious, the visitors refused to lie down but they generally lacked the sophistication and guile to get through Messers Keane and Mina on more than a couple of occasions. A spell of head tennis in the Everton box ended with Roberto Pereyra heading over from close range and Abdoulaye Doucouré mis-controlled a good opening late on after Deeney and substitute Andre Gray had combined but otherwise Pickford was largely untroubled despite the visitors launching a volley of long balls towards his box and Digne having to go off with an injury in the 73rd minute.
Instead, the tide turned back in the hosts’ favour following the highly anticipated introduction of Kean with 18 minutes left. Everton had struggled to play their way through Watford for much of the game but with the Hornets chasing the contest late on, Kean was played into the clear by Bernard. The young Italian blazed a shot high and wide from around the edge of the box but he went much closer in stoppage time.
Bernard was again the provider with determined work outside the opposition box and Kean took one touch to create space off his marker before screwing a shot towards the corner of the goal but the ball skidded an inch the wrong side of the upright.
That would probably have taken the roof off Goodison but there was plenty from the teenager to suggest that he will prove to be a very exciting addition to the team. Deceptively powerful, he demonstrated superb strength against some large defenders but showed he can turn on the jets as well when presented with space in front of him, not to mention an instinctive eye for goal.
In the end, the one goal was enough but Silva was honest in his post-match assessment to say that it wasn’t a great performance. He rightly pointed out, however, that he has no doubts his team will improve and that in the meantime, it’s vital they stay strong at the back and don’t throw away precious leads.
That kind of resilience can only stand them in good stead while the new boys bed in. Four points, two clean sheets and with none of the summer acquisitions yet fully embedded in the team represents a pretty good start to the new season. On to the next test at Villa Park…
Everton kick off their home programme of Premier League fixtures for the new season with the visit to Goodison Park of Watford this weekend as Marco Silva's team bid to improve on last weekend's goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
Fabian Delph returned to training this week but is still ruled out while Morgan Schneiderlin is suspended. Gomes is declared fit and started alongside Gbamin in midfield, with new signings Kean and Iwobi on the bench.
For Watford ex-Blues, Deulofeu starts while Tom Cleverley is on the bench, along with new signing Danny Wellbeck.
Watford started things off with the first attack and moved the ball around brightly until Femenia let it run out. A Digne long throw threatened but Deulofeu picked the pocket of Andre Gomes as Everton looked to settle, Richarlison winning an early corner off Dawson's body. A great corner from Digne that everyone avoided, and it came back from Bernard to Digne who fired wide.
Another couple of corners led to a foul on Sigurdsson 5 yards outside the Watford area, Digne hitting the wall and Foster collecting. Bernard chased down a nice ball, cut inside and drove a great shot inside the post to take the lead on 10 minutes with Everton''s first goal of the season!
Coleman caught Pereyra late and became an early entry in Lee Mason's little book. Gbamin tried a ball that was a little too hard for Sigurdsson, but at least it was creative. He was increasingly involved in midfield and tried an even more ambitious cross-field pass that was just ahead of Digne.
Sigurdsson did well to feed Coleman but his cutback did not come off and Watford attacked, winning their first corner. Mina got his head to the first, Dawson getting a header past Pickford and off the woodwork from a testing delivery by Holebas.
A great move saw Gomes and Sigurdsson trade balls with Calvert-Lewin getting twisted and falling rather than being fouled, but it looked questionable defending. Everton looked to move the ball around but annoyingly kept returning it to Pickford. When they did finally get forward with Gomes, Digne's cross was woefully overhit.
Everton attacked again but the chance never really came despite some good possession and movement around the Watford area and Everton, through Digne, needed to defend again. Capoue clipped Richarlison and saw yellow.
Digne was called for fouling Hughes despite getting the ball; Holebas curled it past the far post. Yerry Mina is annoyed by Deulofeu's dive, Lee Mason strangely calling a corner, VAR confirming it was not a penalty. A sustained period of pressure from Watford saw Pickford block away a sharp shot from Capoue.
Capoue was called for a foul on Richarlison. Sigurdsson planted it perfectly on Richarlison's head in loads of space and he makes an awful job of it, heading over when he really should have buried it, and he knew it.
A Deulofeu free-kick fooled everyone at the other end, Pickford watching it bounce behind. The early goal had promised much in the half but Everton had not really backed it up with anything approaching sustained pressure, and the half finished with Watford still pressing for the equalizer, Capoue firing well wide.
Watford restarted where they left off, pushing Everton back, Gomes catching a Watford player and seeing yellow, Watford winning a slew of corners. Everton were still not really at the races as the pace of the game was being dictated by the yellow shirts of Watford.
Bernard finally got free to run at Watford, Digne's cross not reaching Richarlison. But Watford continued to press and harass making it increasingly uncomfortable for Everton despite their slender lead.
The Blues tried to advance but Richarlison was too-easily dispossessed by Capoue and Watford re-established the high press without really threatening Pickford's goal. Richarlison attacked but passed straight to Capoue outside the Watford area and in a rapid counter, Deulofeu cut the Everton defence wide open, Deeny lashing the ball in Pickford's face — the only thing to stop him scoring.
Holebas was too strong holding back Calvert-Lewin, the Blues grateful a chance to strike again from a wide free-kick that Sigurdsson curled in perfectly again for Richarlison and again, he headed over when it seemed easier to score. Second shocking miss... with Silva already planning on Theo Walcott replacing him.
Deulofeu dived once too often and Lee Mason rightly booked him. Walcott came on when everyone was surely pinning for another sight of Moise Kean? Walcott, however, added a little more space to the Blues right-flank attack, winning a corner that would hopefully provide another much-needed goal.
That change finally came on 72 minutes, Kean on for the perennially non-scoring Calvert-Lewin. Holgate then replaced Digne after he needed treatment. Deulofeu resumed his torment, spooning a cross over everyone.
The game became scrappy, with hoofed balls out of the Everton defence, and no real flow to things as Kean was given a rough physical time by Watford. Coleman surged forward but fired well wide. Cleverley them replaced Deulofeu, getting a decent round of applause from his old supporters for a fair effort.< /p>
Kean was really getting stuck in and being pressed hard but staying on his feet, unlike Richarlison, who would have been flinging himself to the turf at the slightest touch. Refreshing. But nothing Everton did would relieve the incessant pressure as the Hornets kept buzzing around the Everton area, thankfully with no end product to show for their industriousness.
Bernard went on another enthraling run, only to lose the ball at the end of it. Gray replaced Capoue and Watford came the closest they had all afternoon to getting a goal, Deeney's shot screwing across to Doucoure at the far post who fluffed his shot under pressure.
Kean wriggled free but fired his shot wide of the target as the clock ticked down... but with 5 minutes of added time. And a massive chance for Kean, who stopped, looked offside but turned and drove his shot inches wide with Foster well beaten.
The early goal had promised a deluge of brilliant attacking football to grace the Everton sunshine... but that never came as Everton once again struggled to create a handful of chances that they contrived to miss with appalling profligacy. But a win is a win is a win, and 3 vital points.
Scorer: Bernard (10')
Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:14'], Keane, Mina, Digne (73' Holgate), Gbamin, Gomes [Y:46'], Richarlison (63' Walcott), Sigurdsson, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin (72' Kean).
Subs not Used: Lössl, Davies, Iwobi, Tosun.
Subs not Used: Gomes, Janmaat, Quina, Kabasele.
Referee: Lee Mason
Tough encounter in tough conditions negotiated
It’s never easy playing a team who are on the back of a bit of hiding, and I wasn’t particularly optimistic of a win leading up to the game. As Watford seem to have it in for us since we hired a manager they sacked, I did feel as though they would be well up for the game and that their physical midfielders may have a bit too much of our depleted centre. Thankfully, though Everton lacked in quality for pretty much most of the game, they didn’t lack in heart and spirit and did have a steely determination to see the job through on a blustery, but warm, afternoon at Goodison Park.
Regardless of how I felt the game would go, and despite my 37 years, nothing can quite replace that sense of giddiness which accompanies our first home game of the season. Dan and Alfie rolled up at 12:30pm, we grabbed Ste on route and navigated our way through to our parking spec via a few back roads as we were forewarned of some lane closures up around Scotland Road. It was nice to be back in the pub. Same friendly staff, same cheap prices and it was good to sit down and have a natter as kick-off approached.
We were all a bit surprised to see André Gomes begin the game given the general silence about his availability this week, though I was concerned that he might not be quite fit enough to play. I thought back to Leighton Baines playing when crocked against Wolverhampton Wanderers last season, giving away a penalty and then coming off injured after 20 minutes. I’d have been pretty annoyed if a similar thing happened to André Gomes, but fair enough, it proved a good call and André contributed well in a full 90 minutes. Otherwise, Jean-Philippe Gbamin made his first start for Everton with the rest unchanged from our draw at Selhurst Park.
I felt a bit sorry for Tom Davies who was again omitted from the line-up. I like Davies, I think he usually makes a good contribution yet putting him in the team always seems to be a last resort. Promoting youth into the first team has always been such a core essence of our culture, and I feel it has become a bit lost in these last 12 months or so. It’s a tough one because we have high aspirations and you don’t want it to hamper our ambitions, but at the same time I think its important to ensure players see a path into out first team, and if there isn’t any other players from our Academy in the team it’s difficult to promise the young lads they have a good chance to progress.
Watford lined up with a strong midfield of Abdoulaye Doucoure, Etienne Capoue, Will Hughes and the enigmatic Roberto Pereyra;; and, Gerard Deulofeu and Troy Deeney in attack. It’s not a bad team they’ve put together there and it promised to be a tricky game. On our seats, we all had a blue or white flag and before the sirens sounded we had some “hilarious” banter poking each other with the flag sticks. We’re just mad, us! When the sirens sounded the flags waved and it helped spike the atmosphere. It’s great the work The Originals 1878 have done in improving the atmosphere in the stadium and I feel it's had something to do with the outstanding results we’ve had at Goodison Park in 2019.
We attacked the Park End in the first half. Given how tough the game could be in the middle, I felt it was important to really start on the front foot and we did that to good effect. The goal had somewhat been brewing and on 10 minutes Bernard got on the end of an exquisite pass from Lucas Digne, took on the defender and hit a low drive past the geriatric-diving Ben Foster. The ball took a nick off a defender on the way through but, nevertheless, Ben should have got down to it we felt. We weren’t complaining though and it was great to see Bernard get on the goal sheet early this season given, statistically at least, he didn’t contribute loads last season.
Everton remained on top for probably another 10 minutes and then Watford transitionally got themselves back into the game. Summer signing Craig Dawson headed a deep corner onto the top of the crossbar and out as Everton struggled with the wind very much against them. Richarlison missed a great headed opportunity to make it 2-0, and we then survived a VAR penalty call when Gerard Deulofeu was adjudged to have dived rather than Yerry Mina give away a penalty.
I’m not particularly a fan of VAR as I don’t think the consistency is going to be there with decisions game-to-game, but this was a good example of how this can work well. Lee Mason put his whistle to his mouth and it looked for all the world like he was about to point to the spot. He sure wanted to and in any previous season would have done, however now, if the referee isn’t sure, he doesn’t need to give the decision and can wait for confirmation. I still feel that if was against, say, Mohammad Salah and he tumbles, Lee Mason will point to the spot immediately. It’s then up to VAR to overturn the decision, which on this basis, I doubt they would as they’ll have seen “contact”.
The FA darlings will always win. The FA are busy implementing new laws that don’t matter. Like, if the ball hits the referee at any point it’s an immediate dead ball; or, if the ball hits the hand or arm of an attacking player in the penalty area ,it’s an automatic free kick to the opposition (that was an abomination what happened to Manchester CIty yesterday); or, an opposition player now has to stand at least two yards away from your defensive wall when it’s a free-kick. Stuff like this is pointlessly disruptive.
I’d rather they looked at ways to tackle all the play-acting in the game. Every team, including us, is guilty of this “manufacture some contact and collapse in a heap” nonsense which always leads to free kicks throughout the game. It drives me mad and is a stain on our game.
Following that, we managed to see through until half time and I felt that, with the wind in our favour for the second half, we would get through the game more comfortably. This wasn’t so as Watford’s aggressively attacking tactics really had us on the back foot for long periods and the game became horribly scrappy in the middle. So much so that Watford, especially as the game wore on, went long instead. I’ve no issue with that by the way, it’s a legitimate tactic, especially if you have the resources and the conditions, and it kept Yerry Mina and Michael Keane at their resilient best to keep our clean sheet, and therefore our lead, in tact. Countless high balls were repelled by our Columbian and English international pairing.
Watford did find a way through once when Troy Deeney got behind us but his snapshot was well saved by the face of the on-rushing Jordan Pickford. Amongst all this, Richarlison missed an almost identical opportunity to the one he snuffed in the first half, and then late in the game on the counter-attack, Moise Kean missed two good opportunities which he might have scored but boy does he look an exciting player.
In the final few minutes, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard particularly worked magic in frustrating Watford and seeing the game out as Everton just about got over the line for a very welcome first three points of the campaign.
Onto the next one, and a win at Villa Park on Friday will put us top of the league!
Pickford: A great start to the season for Jordan with two clean sheets, and some good saves, to his name. He claimed a couple of good crosses and distributed very well also.I feel that last season was a heck of a learning curve for Jordan and that this season will be his best one yet, maybe even culminating in club, and then national success at the European Championships next Summer. 8
Digne: Had a good solid game and claimed an assist in a good performance, combining well with Bernard. He came off on 73 minutes, apparently with tiredness but should be OK for next weekend I would have thought. 7
Mina: A great start to the season for Yerry and what a way to silence the doubters. Two clean sheets, two good performances, this one particularly towering when faced with quite the onslaught in the second half. My man of the match. 8
Keane: Also very solid. We’ve now 10 clean sheets in our last 13 games and Michael Keane has had a very big part to play in that. Long may it continue. We now seem light years away from the team which really struggled to defend corners this time last season, and then free kicks around December, January. It’s great that Marco has seen the importance of working on this and that they’ve fixed it. You may recall that Roberto Martinez paid zero attention to such issues. Long may it continue, and we all know that by building a team, you start with the defence. 8
Coleman: Excellent. Performed especially well when asked to switch to left back once Lucas Digne went off injured. It’s difficult to switch positions in games and he did this ever so well. He’s back to his best in my opinion. 8
Gbamin: Started the game well but the game past him by for large periods of the second half as he struggled to adapt. I think we’d have got more out of Tom Davies in this game. Nevertheless, it will have been massively beneficial for Jean-Phllippe and if I can find his range he could become a very astute signing indeed - ridiculous that £25m is now seen as “astute”, but that’s the reality of life in the Premier League now. 5
Gomes: I was sceptical of his fitness but he was obviously OK and he came in and excelled in the middle in an excellent effort it what will have been a difficult game to play in. 7
Bernard: Had a very good game. Nice to see him score. Nice to see him scrap. And above all else, for me, it was nice to see him keep going for the full 90 (+5) minutes as he seldom seemed able to last season. Key is to maintain this. 7
Richarlison: Had a bit of a shocker to be fair and was rightly replaced having missed a couple of great chances and contributed little. 5
Sigurdsson: Didn’t get on the ball much, but was everywhere and worked hard to keep our lead preserved. Like Bernard, it was good to see him last the full game and contribute to the last as often he is flagging come the final 10 minutes. Maybe the lads have been working hard on their fitness this summer as they certainly seemed to find another gear in the final 10 minutes. 6
Calvert-Lewin: Worked ever so hard for the team in tough conditions. He may not contribute a lot of goals, but he certainly contributes a lot to the team and he’ll continue to this season I feel whether that’s from the start of games or from the substitutes bench. 6
Walcott (for Richarlison): Did very well. Showed Richarlison more of what he should have done and had a productive half hour. Well done Theo. 7
Kean (for Calvert-Lewin): Missed a couple of great opportunities but what a talent he looks. Expect big things. 6
Holgate (for Digne): Got stuck in quickly and didn’t seem fazed by coming into such a tough game. I think he feels more comfortable at right-back than centre-back. Big season for him. I hope he can keep it up. 7
Everton kick off their home programme of Premier League fixtures for the new season with the visit to Goodison Park of Watford this weekend as Marco Silva's team bid to improve on last weekend's goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
[Note the following preview and predicted lineup have been updated following injury news from Marco Silva's pre-match press conference.]
In an encounter that was hugely reminiscent of the same game back in April, the Blues struggled to break down the Eagles' shape and had to be content with a point from a largely impotent display but in the familiar environs of home, Silva will hope to see his players spread their wings a little more.
Silva will have to contend with some early-season selection concerns in midfield where André Gomes is a significant doubt given the silence on his prognosis from the club this week and Morgan Schneiderlin is suspended.
The Frenchman picked up two bookings and was given his marching orders with a quarter of an hour to go at Selhurst Park last week while the Portuguese sustained an ankle injury at the end of the first half. Silva says that Gomes will be included in the squad but it is unclear at this point if he will be able to play any part in the game.
She he prove unable to, Gomes's likely replacement, Jean-Pierre Gbamin betrayed some predictable unfamiliarity with the fast-paced English game and also looked to be lacking in fitness which would place question marks over the wisdom of pitching him into his first start just seven days later.
Silva had a potential option in Fabian Delph who returned to training on Wednesday having recovered from a muscle injury he picked up in the friendly against Werder Bremen but the former Manchester City man is still ruled out.
Assuming the manager doesn't elect to drop Gylfi Sigurdsson back into a deeper role, Gbamin could make his full debut alongside Tom Davies in central midfield. Davies made an impressive cameo in tricky circumstances last Saturday following Schneiderlin's dismissal and he will see this as an opportunity to stake his claims.
Meanwhile, Sigurdsson could have competition for No.10 position he has occupied behind the front two and his rather lacklustre display at Palace won't have helped him much in that regard. With the benefit of another week's training following his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations, another new signing in the form of Alex Iwobi offers a different option behind the striker -- less playmaker and more of a direct, trickier presence on the ball capable of unsettling defences.
He could, of course, unseat Bernard from the left flank, a position he often played for Arsenal and Silva will be grateful for the Nigerian's versatility, not least because it will push some of those attacking players to work all the harder to keep their spots in the line-up.
Then, of course, there is the matter of the centre-forward role itself. Dominic Calvert-Lewin played a role last week with which he is all too familiar — that of a physical, disruptive presence spearheading the attack but one which had few goalscoring chances. Indeed, the young striker had just one touch in the opposition penalty area in 90 minutes and while there will almost certainly be an element — perhaps a dominant one — of the way in which the team attacked at play in that statistic, Silva will be mindful that Moise Kean offers something very different.
The 19-year-old will no doubt be as desperate to start as the Goodison faithful are to see him get some meaningful action and while it's tempting to let your imagination and excitement over the recent arrival from Juventus get the better of you, you have to be mindful of his tender years and respect the manager's desire to introduce him slowly if that is what Silva decides to do.
For their part, the visitors will travel to Merseyside looking for some quick redemption following what would have come as something of a shock in their own home opener last Saturday. Brighton & Hove Albion under their new boss Graham Potter thumped the Hornets 3-0 at Vicarage Road, dealing a surprisingly heavy blow to Javi Gracia's hopes of getting off to a winning start.
The Spaniard's new striking acquisition, Danny Welbeck, who wasn't considered for the Brighton clash, will have a late fitness test while winger Ismaila Sarr, a deadline-day signing from Rennes, is also a doubt but Nathaniel Chalobah should be fit.
Despite the disappointment of the result at Palace, there will be optimism among the home crowd this weekend that they can generate the kind of atmosphere that carried the Blues to such impressive results as those which saw them go from mid-February to mid-May without conceding a goal at Goodison.
Watford played spoiler in this game last season, however, holding Everton to a 2-2 draw in a fixture that the Toffees felt, in tandem with the visit of Newcastle a few days previously and on the basis of their form prior to the Merseyside derby at Anfield, as an opportunity to put three points in the board. Instead, it needed a stunning free-kick from Lucas Digne to salvage a draw.
As such, there will be nothing easy about this game but it's one where Silva and his men need to lay down a marker and statement of intent for the season by getting the win.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday, 17 August, 2019
Referee: Lee Mason
Last Time: Everton 2 - 2 Watford
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Davies, Gbamin, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Kean
Originally Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Davies, Delph, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Kean