Both sides will be desperate for a win this weekend to start the festive period off with three points. It is more important for Everton, who have only won once in nine matches. That said, a victory for the home side will lift them above of the Toffees, which is huge motivation for a club that is trying to stabilise themselves as a top half Premier League club. It will provide a marker of where both clubs are and that is important ahead of the January transfer window.
The home side have done well this season under Walter Mazzarri with the Italian adjusting well to English football. They have been inconsistent at times, but they are well placed in mid table and are set to avoid a relegation fight for the second season running. There is a platform to push on from and classy signings like Daryl Janmaat and Roberto Pereyra suggest that they are going to do so over the coming years.
It is a year of transition for Everton as Ronald Koeman begins to build the squad that he thinks will be good enough to challenge at the very top of the Premier League. In the past, the problem has been a lack of finances, but that is no longer an issue at Goodison Park. They spent big over the summer and are set to spend again in January. The Toffees need to be patient as Koeman has the ability to take them to new heights.
Watford have won two of their last five league matches, but they have lost their last two, which could develop into a slump if they aren’t careful. Last weekend, they lost to West Brom, a disappointing result considering that the Baggies are one of the teams that Watford will want to compete with this season. The Hornets’ problem has been conceding goals and they will need to work on that over the coming weeks if they want a top half finish.
The visitors have taken only seven points from their last nine matches, which is well below what they would have targeted. It has been the first drop in form under Ronald Koeman and it has made the festive period even more important for the Toffees. A trip to Watford is a difficult one, but they will be looking for a win this weekend.
I expect a few changes for Watford as they move back to a 3-5-2 formation, due to the return of Younes Kaboul. Isaac Success could be given a start after some good performances this season, while Abdoulaye Doucoure could be given an opportunity to start in place of Roberto Pereyra.
Everton will set up to be more attacking on Saturday and that could provide an opportunity to Ross Barkley who was an unused substitute last weekend. I also expect Gerard Deulofeu to be given a start in place of the injured Yannick Bolasie.
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Roberto Pereyra will be suspended for the next three matches and therefore won’t be involved this weekend. Kenedy and Younes Kaboul could be back this weekend, which provides Mazzarri with a boost. Brice Dja-Djedje, Craig Cathcart, Adrian Mariappa and Daryl Janmaat won’t feature against Everton due to various injuries.
Arouna Kone and Seamus Coleman are doubts for this weekend’s trip to Watford. Yannick Bolasie picked up a cruciate ligament injury last week and will miss the rest of the season, joining Muhamed Besic on the long term injury list.
It is going to be a close match to kick off the weekend’s action, with both sides looking for a win. I’d place Everton as favourites due to Pereyra and Janmaat being out for Watford. Everton should have the quality to take the three points and will be confident after their late equaliser against Manchester United last weekend. Romelu Lukaku has been misfiring of late and I’m backing him to get back amongst the goals at Vicarage Road this weekend. It won’t be an easy win, but I expect Everton to take the points.
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