Everton enter matchday 9 of the 2021/22 Premier League season looking to bounce back after a disappointing home defeat courtesy of David Moyes and West Ham. As a result, the Toffees are currently sitting in eight place in the table. Everton have picked up 14 points from their first eight matches.
Everton’s opponents, Watford, are currently 16th. Two wins and a draw has been enough to keep the Hornets out of the relegation zone at this stage of the season.
Injuries will be an issue in this one for Everton. Key players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Yerry Mina are all unavailable. In more positive news, manager Rafa Benitez has said in his pre-match press conference that Richarlison has returned to training and is available.
Richarlison = available for #EVEWAT! 💪
— Everton (@Everton) October 22, 2021
The potential return of the Brazilian would be a big lift for an Everton offense that struggled to sustain pressure last time out.
Potential Everton Lineup
With so many injuries throughout the squad, Benitez has somewhat limited options to choose from. Here is a look at what Saturday’s starting 11 might look like
Gray – Iwobi – Townsend
Allan – Davies
Digne – Keane – Godfrey – Coleman
If Yerry Mina was healthy this week, he may have started in order to provide reinforcements on set pieces. In light of his absence, the goalkeeper and back four are likely to remain unchanged.
Replacing Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield is no easy task. Given that Jean-Philippe Gbamin has only made four competitive appearances in two years with Everton and the question marks around André Gomes’ health, Tom Davies seems to make the most sense.
As Everton will hope to be on the front foot at home against a newly promoted side, sticking with four attackers seems likely. In that case, Demarai Gray has looked most dangerous on the left. Richarlison up front would give Everton a more incisive presence than Salomon Rondon. However, Rondon could also start given that Richarlison has only just returned to training.
Considering the lack of depth at center midfield, Rafa may want to stay away from a 4-3-3 in this one. However, a switch to a 4-4-2 could be possible. If that happens, Everton could set up with Demarai Gray alongside Richarlison in a strike partnership. We could even see Anthony Gordon start at left mid in place of Alex Iwobi.
There is no denying that the Blues have been dealt a tough hand in terms of injuries. However, this is still a match in which Everton should be collecting three points.
After a flat performance a week ago, Everton will look to have more possession and dynamism in attack against Watford on Saturday.
A returning Richarlison may just make the difference. The 24-year-old will be doubly motivated to perform well against his former team. Since joining Everton, Richarlison has two goals in five appearances against Watford. Adding a third to that tally would go a long way towards securing three points.
My prediction: Everton 2-0 Watford
Featured image courtesy of @Everton.
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