Everton vs Watford

Silva moved to Vicarage Road in May 2017 after leaving relegated Hull City, and after an excellent start to the season which saw them reach the top four last October.

The Portuguese manager was one of Everton owner Farhad Moshiri’s top targets to replace Ronald Koeman last season, but this speculation seemed to affect Silva and Watford tailed off terribly before his sacking in January.

His replacement, Javi Gracia, presided over an unspectacular finish to last campaign as Watford ended up 14th, but his side took maximum points from the first four games of this season.

They have won just two of their last ten games, though; their last victory coming in late October, and are currently 11th.

Ahead of Monday’s match, we spoke to co-presenter of the award-winning Watford podcast From The Rookery End, Mike Parkin:

RBM: Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, have garnered a reputation for hiring and firing since their takeover in June 2012. With manager Javi Gracia’s new four-and-a-half year deal, does there finally feel more of a sense of stability at Watford?

Mike: There has been a high turnover of head coaches at Watford but this shouldn’t detract from the fact that the club has actually been becoming increasingly stable.

The infrastructure, stadium and squad has improved incrementally since the Pozzo takeover, with the owners taking the club from the brink of administration to the Premier League in a very short space of time. You won’t find many Watford supporters with anything approaching a bad word to say about the owners.

Mike: Watford supporters understand why a player like Deulofeu is at Vicarage Road and not the Camp Nou. He is, as you say, a supremely talented player whose career is yet to hit the heights it could. He has been a joy to watch and while there have been no issues with his work rate or commitment, his finishing has been a cause for concern. The Hornets have been guilty of being far too profligate in front of goal, with Deulofeu one of the most guilty parties.

He has probably suffered from playing as a central attacker, with many fans feeling his best position is out wide. He’ll no doubt feel he has a point to prove at Goodison so it will be fascinating to see how he performs against Everton this time round.

Mike: No. Richarlison is a genuine superstar. I fully expect him to be successful enough to ensure that Everton end up paying the full £50 million transfer fee, but also expect the Toffees to make a considerable profit when he inevitably moves on. If he can stay focused, I firmly believe Richarlison can go on to be one of the biggest names in world football.

His form tailed off at Vicarage Road but it was an absolute privilege to see him in a Watford shirt when he was firing on all cylinders. He’s some player and I’m sure that most, if not all Watford supporters wish him nothing but success.

Mike: Doucouré undoubtedly has the potential to be a top-four player; on his day he is unplayable in the centre of the park. I don’t think the current Everton midfield should lose any sleep over him, though, as there is more chance of me signing for the blues than there is of Doucouré being sold to Everton!

RBM: Watford managed more points in their first four league games than they have in the last 11. What do you put this loss of form down to, and how far away are they from challenging for the Europa League places?

Mike: I don’t think Europe is on anyone’s mind at this stage. While the performances have been pretty good throughout, Watford’s failure to take their chances has seen them tumble down the table in alarming fashion. The first goal has to be to arrest that slide and to regain that winning touch. As we all know, that’s easier said than done in the Premier League.

I don’t think wholesale changes are needed; the performances have been consistently fine, but the Hornets simply have to start taking their chances if they aren’t to get dragged into a relegation battle.

Watford’s most recent loss came at home to Manchester City on Tuesday night

Mike: The biggest question will be up top. I think Gracia is struggling to work out what his ideal striking setup is having abandoned the early season partnership of Troy Deeney and Andre Gray.

Isaac Success has been starting as the lone striker (supported by Deulofeu) away from home and I suspect that he may go down this route at Goodison.

Mike: Roberto Pereyra has lost a bit of form recently but he remains a huge threat. He has been resurgent under Gracia, earning a recall to the Argentina side, and if Watford are to get anything from this game, Pereyra will be instrumental.

Mike: It’s hard to be too optimistic considering Watford’s form and I can’t imagine too many coupons will feature anything other than a home win.

That said, the players will be aware of the sub-plot surrounding this game and will be keen to make a statement, especially considering last season’s Goodison horror show. I’m going to ignore my head and go with my heart and say an entertaining 2-2 draw.

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