02/11/2017

Richarlison | “Concentrating On Winning”

Richarlison believes Sunday's clash with Everton will not be easy, despite the bad run of form the Toffee’s are currently on.

Watford will be going to Goodison Park in search of their first ever victory there and the Brazilian forward thinks the quality of opposition will make for a tough clash.

“Everton are in a difficult moment but there’s no easy games as we saw against Stoke,” said Richarlison.

“They have a lot of quality players like Rooney who is a legend in the Premier League for many years. It will be a very tough game,” he added.

Despite back-to-back defeats the Golden Boys will still take a lot from their bright start to the campaign and Richarlison says there is only one thing on his teammates' minds.

“It’s been a very strong start, we’ve been working hard,” he said.

“Luckily we didn’t slip too far down the table, we have a very important match coming up and the only thing we are concentrating on is winning.”

It has been an impressive start to life in England for the man signed from Fluminense this summer. He has had more touches of the ball in the opposition box than any other player in the Premier League and has had the third most shots on goal of any player. Richarlison feels like he is right at home.

“I’m almost playing like I feel like I’m in Brazil. I’m training very well, playing very well and hopefully I can maintain this.”


Watch the full Premier League Productions interview with Richarlison above - free to view, no sign-up required.

02/11/2017

Opposition Focus | Everton

Chris Beesley from the Liverpool Echo tells you all you need to know about Everton ahead of Sunday's game at Goodison Park...


It's nine defeats in the last 13 for Everton. Are things as bad as results would suggest?

“It's very bad. The problem is it's not just results – it’s the lack of prospect of turning it round. It's the way the team has been playing, the lack of shape and the lack of confidence. You've also got that dual problem of being unable to score at one end and then leaking a lot at the other end. It's not great.”

Ronald Koeman has paid the price for the poor start to the season. Did he deserve to go?
 
“He’s the man who's carried the can. He was let down badly as the club failed to sign an adequate replacement for Romelu Lukaku, so the people who do the recruiting need to take some responsibility as well. They knew a long time ago, when Lukaku refused to sign a new contract, that he was going, so they had plenty of time to find a replacement.

“Giroud was clearly the No. 1 target and he was apparently in the building at Finch Farm, so not to get that over the line would have been a huge blow. But it was Koeman who had to put team the team together and he was just unable to find the right balance.”

There were big expectations, though, after you spent more than £120m in the summer. Was it spent in the right areas?
 
“It was a really lopsided recruitment policy. There was huge excitement when they spent a lot of money and spent it quickly. We've got used to deals being done at the last minute here but there was genuine excitement over the players coming in. But it was clearly a bit like building a new house and leaving the roof off.

“They are severely lacking on the left-hand side of defence and have no cover whatsoever for Leighton Baines. He's one of the club's greatest ever full-backs but you can't expect a player of his age to be playing all the time. They also signed three No. 10s in Rooney, Klaassen and Sigurdsson.

“David Unsworth has said all three can’t play in the same team at the same time so you have to question the strategy there: why bring in Klaassen for more than £20m, make Rooney the highest paid player at the club and then sign Sigurdsson for a club record fee if you can't accommodate them?”

Has the spotlight been shone on Director of Football Steve Walsh?
 
“It has to. I've been told by people that he's more of a talent spotter than a negotiator but maybe he needed to spot a few more No. 9s after the Giroud deal fell through. It's obvious some of the buys were Koeman buys and some were Walsh buys. It's a bit like The Beatles songs: you can tell which ones were Lennon songs and which ones were McCartney's. Walsh can’t be beyond criticism and if he's been tasked with spotting talent, then it's not been good enough.”

What's the word up there on who is in line to replace Koeman?
 
"At the moment, Sean Dyche is the bookmakers' favourite. It's all a bit different to 2016 when they hired Koeman. There were some pretty high names in the mix then. You had Pellegrini, who had just won the league with Man City, and Unai Emery, who'd won a hat-trick of Europa Leagues with Sevilla. The calibre of manager being bandied about then was much higher. The timing now is not great as who are you going to get mid-season when the team are struggling?

“What top manager is going to come when you are in a relegation fight, when the team is struggling and when you have the huge problem of not having a proper centre-forward? I think you are going to be stuck with firefighters like Sam Allardyce or take a gamble with a supposedly lesser manager who has done well with lesser resources like, say, Dyche.”

It looks like Unsworth will be in charge again on Sunday. Is he blessed with a fully-fit squad?
 
“James McCarthy is still out; Ross Barkley is still about another month away while Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie are even further down the line. The big one returning is Michael Keane. He got a real nasty cut in his leg against Sunderland in the League Cup – it was actually former Everton man James Vaughan who caught him. He played against his former club Burnley but then the infection spread up his leg and he had to go into hospital and miss the game against Leicester.”

It doesn't seem to be easy to predict how Everton will line up personnel wise or shape wise...
 
“That's right. Will Unsworth go with with one up front and use Omar Niasse? Will he go with two up top and try and score a few goals at home? How does he fit the three No. 10s in the side? Does he try and crowbar them all in? There are so many questions.

“Unsworth has said he wants everybody to play in their natural positions and not have square pegs in round holes. Unsworth is very positive and wants to play on the front foot. Does he go with two wingers again is another question? He did that against Leicester with Mirallas and Aaron Lennon but then he took them off at half-time.”

Everton have struggled to find a balance in their starting XI so far this season

We're intrigued to know how Ademola Lookman is getting on. We saw him tear it up against our Under-23 side a couple of seasons back. 
 
“He's not been getting a look-in but you'd imagine he'd get some game-time under Unsworth. He was totally frozen out under Koeman and I don't know what that was about. I don't know if he's homesick, if it's a football issue or whether he got too much, too soon after scoring just seconds after coming on for his debut.  

“He had a couple of run-outs in the Europa League in August and scored a great goal for the Under-23s against Spurs recently but he's not had a look-in in the Premier League. It's a mystery as he brings so much pace to a team lacking it.”

What can you tell us about Beni Baningime? 

"He's a midfielder who has come from nowhere, really. He was drafted in by Unsworth, who will know him well as he was part of the side who won the Premier League 2 last season.  He wasn't seen as being close to the team under Koeman but he started the League Cup game at Chelsea and then again against Leicester.

“To be keeping a player like Morgan Schneiderlin out of the side will give him huge confidence. His displays have been impressive and he's not been running round like a headless chicken. He's been calm and assured.”

And, finally, a lot has been made of the loss of Lukaku but we read an interesting article on your site about how the departure of Gareth Barry has been keenly felt too. 
 
"There was not a major outcry at the time when he left but his loss has been great. He was a real calming influence on the pitch, around the camp and in the dressing room and some of the other senior players need to step up. Some of the players need to stand up and be counted and help the young players. Barry was really good at cajoling the young players."