First Team 07/12/2018

Team News: Everton

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia will have the full range of options available to him after revealing all of his players are fit and ready to stick their hand up for selection in what he is expecting to be a high-octane game at Goodison Park on Monday.

The Head Coach anticipates “all of my players will be available for the next game”, which would suggest Will Hughes has shrugged off the problem that saw him forced off against Manchester City and that Adalberto Peñaranda has recovered from a foot problem.

While Peñaranda, Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley will be short of match fitness and therefore unlikely to start a game against such high-energy opponents, they will come into the Head Coach's thinking when it comes to naming his seven-man bench.

The availability of 28 players will keep Marco Silva guessing as to the make-up of Watford's XI and Gracia believes the Hornets should focus on the threat they pose to Everton and not worry about what the Toffees have up their sleeve.

“It will be a tough game for both teams,” said the Head Coach. “If we play the same as we are doing, I am sure it will be demanding for them. We need to be more efficient and keep our defensive work as they have a very offensive style. We need to be ready to defend and to create chances we have created in other games.”

Cleverley continued his comeback from injury by playing for Watford's Under-23s against Millwall today

The game at Goodison Park has a further subplot because it is the first time the Hornets will come up against Silva since they parted company with the Portuguese coach in January. Gracia is too shrewd to be sucked into any battle with Silva, the man he replaced at Vicarage Road. 

“I don't know him personally,” said the Spaniard. “He is making a good job in Everton. I respect him but now I am focused on my team thinking of the next game and that's all. I am looking forward to the game in the same way I did when we played against City or against Liverpool or against Leicester. We need the three points.”

The three points would come in handy right now as the Hornets are going through a sticky spell that has seen them win just two of the last 11. But Gracia is not overly concerned, believing he has seen enough in recent performances and in training to suggest a run of positives results is just around the corner.

“There are some who say we are playing well and others saying we are not playing well,” he said. “In my opinion, I think we are doing a lot of things well. I like to be demanding with my players because this way we will improve our results. But in this moment, I am not worried about if in the last games we weren't able to get some points because I think we are in the right way. By improving some things I think we are close to improving the results.”

The Hornets arguably deserved more from games against Manchester United, Fulham, Arsenal, Newcastle and possibly Leicester this season. Gracia is confident the Hornets remain on the right track and that they are not far away from turning losses into draws and draws into wins. He believes it's nothing a bit of old-fashioned hard work won't sort out.

“The level of the team and the way we are playing, I think maybe we deserve more in some games,” he said. “But the only way to change this situation is by working hard and improving. It's clear in the last games we have dominated possession, chances, the set-pieces: we control the game but we didn't finish the chances we had. We need to be more efficient and try to keep the same attitude in our defensive work and other faces of the game.”

Gracia said he was proud of the players and the way they pushed Manchester City all the way on Tuesday night and has not sensed a drop in morale.

“I think they have confidence in the way we are playing,” he said. “We have created many chances. Maybe the last one [against Man City] was different, but in all of the games we have played we were close to winning or getting some points. We want to get better results, you want to get points and this is the mentality we have in this moment. During training sessions they always keep the same attitude. It doesn't change because we get a good or bad result.”

First Team 07/12/2018

Opposition Focus: Everton

By Cian Hallahan

Find out more about our hosts ahead of Monday's visit to Goodison Park.


Nickname: The Toffees, The Blues

Manager: Marco Silva

Stadium: Goodison Park (Capacity - 39,572)

Founded: 1878 

Trivia: Everton’s highest-scoring player was Dixie Dean, who scored 349 goals between 1925 and 1937, including 60 goals in one season.


European Cup Winners’ Cup (1984-85)

FA Cup (1905-06, 1932-33, 1965-66, 1983-84 and 1994-95)

Community Shield (1928, 1932, 1963, 1970, 1984, 1986 (shared), 1987 and 1995)

First Division (1890-91, 1914-15, 1927-28, 1931-32, 1938-39, 1962-63, 1969-70, 1984-85 and 1986-87)

Second Division (1930-31)

Last Season

The Toffees finished last season comfortably in 8th place after recording 49 points, they remained unbeaten in the Premier League against their Merseyside rivals, drawing 0-0 at Goodison Park, and 1-1 at Anfield. Since then, Everton have invested heavily in their squad and have changed their style of play and now look far more dangerous in attack than they did under Sam Allardyce last season.

Last Time Out At Goodison Park

Last time the Hornets travelled to Everton, the game was a tale of two halves. The first 45 minutes saw no goals and a tightly contested match, but after the restart the game seemed to come alive as Watford went 2-0 up through Richarlison and Christian Kabasele. But, three minutes after Kabasele doubled the lead, the ship began to sink for Watford.

Oumar Niasse brought Everton back into the match, and then Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised, providing the platform for Everton to snatch all three points. With two penalties in added time, Leighton Baines slotted home, but Tom Cleverley was unable to convert, meaning the Hornets were defeated 3-2 in Merseyside.

The Boss - Marco Silva

Marco Silva is a familiar face to the Hornets, having spent time at Vicarage Road last season. Upon joining Everton in the summer, Silva brought in many players suited to this style, and most talked about was former Hornets winger Richarlison. Everton are the third Premier League club Marco Silva has managed in recent years, joining Watford from Hull City before his move to the Toffees in the summer.

One To Watch - Richarlison

For Watford fans, it may feel strange seeing Richarlison play against Javi Gracia’s men. The Brazilian excelled at The Vic last season, using his flair to effortlessly take on defenders. Richarlison has already scored more goals (six) than he managed in 38 appearances with the Hornets (five). Watford's defenders will have to be switched on if they are to stop their former teammate from converting on Monday night. 

Played For Both - Kevin Richardson 

Newcastle-born midfielder Kevin Richardson made 109 appearances for the Toffees, scoring 16 goals. During his time at Goodison Park, Richardson won an FA Cup in 1984 and both the First Division title, and a Cup Winners’ Cup medal in 1986.

This impressed then-Watford manager Graham Taylor, who chose to invest £225,000 on Richardson. In a one-season spell at Vicarage Road, Richardson made 39 appearances and scored two goals, helping Graham Taylor’s side reach the semi-final of the FA Cup and finish ninth in the First Division. He then moved to North London where he spent three years at Arsenal before transferring to La Liga with Real Sociedad.

A Game To Remember - Watford 3-2 Everton 

In December 2016, Watford played host to Everton at Vicarage Road. 

This match saw the Golden Boys record their first win against the Toffees in all competitions since March 1987. Despite going behind early on, Watford got themselves back into the game as Stefano Okaka converted a Nordin Amrabat cross with a sublime backheel into the far corner at the Vicarage Road end.

The Hornets doubled their lead in the second half as Sebastian Prödl headed home from a well-delivered free-kick. Five minutes later Okaka completed his brace with a header, securing all three points for the Hornets. Romelu Lukaku also fired a brace but it was not enough as Walter Mazzarri’s side climbed to seventh in the table.