MX23RW : Monday, September 20 15:35:51| >> :120:7283:7283:
May 12, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at Goodison Park
Attendance: 38,550
Barkley (56')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Everton vs. Watford

Sports Mole previews the Premier League meeting between Everton and Watford.

Everton play host to Watford at Goodison Park with seventh place in the Premier League already assured, but they head into the match on a run of three matches without success.

The same can be said of the Hornets, who have only scored one goal in five outings, and manager Walter Mazzarri will be aware that only three points will realistically be enough if he is to hold out hope of remaining at the club for next season.


Ronald Koeman watches on during the Premier League game between Everton and Arsenal on December 13, 2016© SilverHub

When all is said and done on May 21, Ronald Koeman will consider it job done after earning Everton a return to the Europa League with a seventh-place finish in the table, but he will know that they cannot afford to end an otherwise impressive campaign with a whimper.

The Merseyside outfit have ambitions to bridge the gap between the top six and themselves, but the gulf in class will become further apparent if they fail to earn more than 60 points this season.

That appeared to be within their grasp when they recorded a 3-1 victory over Burnley during the middle of April, but three matches without a point or a goal has left them out of the running for sixth or above.

With a trip to Arsenal still to come, it means that their home encounter with Watford provides them with their best chance of reaching the 60-point mark for the first time in three attempts, which would continue their improvement on 47 points from last season.

Given the speculation regarding his future, Romelu Lukaku may be making his final appearance in an Everton shirt at Goodison Park, and he will be eager to end his run of three games without finding the back of the net.

The in-demand Belgian has scored 24 goals in the top flight this season - three more than any of his nearest rivals - but he has just three goals to his name in his last seven outings.

Recent form: DWWDLL


Walter Mazzarri watches on during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Watford on December 14, 2016© SilverHub

When Watford were sitting in the top half of the standings, Mazzarri must have wondered what more he had to do to earn a second year at Vicarage Road but his side's most recent spell has left him teetering on the brink.

The fact that Watford remain just three points adrift of ninth place after a period of one win and one goal from five matches shows that the Italian had reason to feel taken aback when reports began to emerge about his future, but it also highlights the small margin of error at the Hornets.

Despite finishing 13th and reaching the FA Cup semi-finals, Quique Flores was removed from his position last summer and with Mazzarri currently five points adrift of Flores's points tally of 45, it will be interpreted that only two wins from three matches will give him a chance to build on their efforts in the summer.

Their results do not tell the whole story, however, with Watford only being denied a draw against Liverpool when a last-minute effort from Sebastian Prodl hit the woodwork, and Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel earned the man of the match award last weekend, despite his side running out 3-0 winners.

Watford deserve credit for their performance at the King Power Stadium, but it will ultimately be results that dictate whether Mazzarri avoids the sack and he needs to begin a resurgence at Everton.

That appears to be his only chance because with Chelsea and Manchester City still to come, he faces the toughest of conclusions to what could prove to be his solitary year in English football.

Recent form: WLWLLL

Team News

Ross Barkley arrives ahead of the Premier League game between Swansea City and Everton on May 6, 2017© SilverHub

After only appearing as a second-half substitute against Swansea City, Ross Barkley is expected to be recalled to the starting lineup by Koeman.

Enner Valencia and Ademola Lookman are also pushing for a start, while Morgan Schneiderlin will hope to make his return from injury.

As for Watford, Troy Deeney will hope to feature after only being named among the replacements against Leicester as speculation persists regarding his future.

However, given their performance in the East Midlands, Mazzarri could potentially keep faith with the majority of his players ahead of a tough end to the season, which continues with Chelsea on Monday evening.

Tom Cleverley will not feature due to the terms of his transfer to Watford earlier in the season.

Everton possible starting lineup:
Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Calvert-Lewin, Lukaku

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes, Mariappa, Prodl, Kabasele, Janmaat, Amrabat, Behrami, Doucoure, Capoue, Okaka, Niang

Head To Head

Friday's fixture will represent just the 24th time that these two teams have faced each other in a competitive match, with Everton claiming 17 wins to just the three for Watford.

However, the Hornets are unbeaten in their last three matches against the Toffees, with two draws and a win being recorded since they returned to the top flight.

Everton have not defeated Watford since a 3-0 triumph back in 2007, which marked their ninth successive victory in this fixture.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Everton 3-1 Watford

Both clubs head into this match in poor form, but the onus will be on Everton to make something happen at Goodison Park. Watford showed against Leicester last weekend that they are not shy in pushing for goals, but that will only benefit the likes of Lukaku who will be confident of more goals in front of the team's supporters.

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Enner Valencia in action for Everton against Arsenal on December 13, 2016
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