That was alright for a first home game of the season wasn’t it? The sun was shining, and Marco Silva’s blues seen off a decent Watford side. The match overall was not the most comfortable for Everton with Pickford being called into action on a few different occasions but glimpses of Everton quality, especially down the left flank, won the game for The Toffees.
Silva’s biggest issue pre-match was who was going to be setting up in the double-pivot. With Gomes a doubt and Gbamin untested, it was a surprise to see them both start and see out the 90 minutes today. Gbamin was someone who would have had a point to prove after taking a bit of criticism from some fans after his cameo against Palace.
He showcased his defensive abilities, making the second most tackles made by an Everton player on the pitch. Another element to his game was his willingness to bring the ball up the pitch. Although Gbamin operates where you would typically expect a No6 to operate but he likes to bring it further up the pitch and into the final third.
The game started quite cagey with Watford happy to let Everton take the front foot. Everton had 3 shots to no reply within the first 10 minutes before Bernard scored to make it 1-0. Lucas Digne won the ball back in his own half and lofted a ball over the top towards Bernard down the left flank.
With space gifted to the Brazilian, Bernard progressed the ball forced with ease. He ran at Femina and cut in on his right foot leaving Femina for dead. A strong strike at the front post gave exposed Foster’s front post and the blues were a goal to the good.
Watford’s positional play would stop Everton being comfortable in possession. Both Gbamin and Gomes were constantly man marked in the buildup, something which disrupted Everton’s passing play.
A lot of their attacking play came through Gerard Deulofeu, a player we know is well capable of causing defences problems. Everton’s compact 4-4-2 formation stopped Watford from progressing the ball forward and left their attack feeding from scraps.
Around the mid-point though Jordan Pickford was called into play with a huge save from a Dawson header, Mina tidying up after it. I thought Mina overall had a fantastic game. Mina, I would imagine, would have a point to prove himself after not getting much in the way of game time last season. This was partially due to injuries and partially down to the form of Keane and Zouma, but Mina is making a strong case for himself after the opening two games of the season to be Keane’s partner for the foreseeable future.
There was a big shout for a penalty around the 25th minute when Calvert-Lewin was dragged down in the area. I was on the fence about this one, Lee Mason is notoriously a terrible referee, but I have seen them not given before, so it is hard to be too critical with that decision. The rest of the half was largely forgettable bar a big chance that Richarlison really should have been putting away. A lovely ball in from a free kick by Sigurdsson which found Richarlison free in the middle, but his header goes just over. It wasn’t his day today with a few more chances that went begging.
You can see below from the positional map of the Everton team that we played quite deeper in comparison to last weekend. Sigurdsson continued as a second striker, with Calvert-Lewin dropping deeper to help link the play together. DCL was effective in what he was asked to do but finished the game without registering shot, on or off target. Creatively, Everton lacked, and Calvert-Lewin didn’t get into the right positions.
Going into the second half, Everton started as they finished with a lot of the play going down their left. Bernard was instrumental in our play, on and off the ball. He won the most tackles for Everton and often was in the middle of a lot of our good work going forward. We ourselves had a real lack of quality in the final third which has been a reoccurring theme for a while, I am however hopefully this will be soon a worry of the past with Kean’s cameo but more on that soon.
Around the 56th minute Pickford was yet again called into a play with a big save after Troy Deeney was slotted through on goal. It was a one on one and Pickford tends to excel in these situations, he made himself big and kept the blues in the game.
The counterattack all stemmed from a wayward Richarlison pass near the Watford box. With the Everton forward not having the best of games, highlighted by failing to register a shot on target and having a passing success of just 33%, he was subbed off for Walcott. Just minutes later there was another big chance for Watford as the ball pinged around in the Everton box and it fell to Pereyra who headed it just over.
Mina luckily did enough to put the Watford forward off. At around the 75th minute, Moise Kean made his full home debut for Everton with DCL going the other way, Digne also went off holding his leg. This was a worry as a lot of the good work done so far was through Bernard and Digne. Holgate was brought on for him and slotted in at right back with Coleman filling in at left back. I thought Coleman did an excellent job at left back, it would have been very easy for him to just focus on holding the back line together, but he still pushed on as shown in the heat map below, using his right foot to cut inside.
Although Moise Kean did not get the goal he deserved, we should all be excited by the forwards cameo. As mentioned before, Everton lacked a presence up top but that changed when Kean was on the pitch. In the 15 minutes he was playing, he registered two shots. Both of which stemmed from counter attacks, Kean showed off his pace when he picked up the ball from Bernard just past the halfway point and ran at the Watford defence. A lovely cut inside took the Watford defender out of the game with the shot just going wide. It was an excited cameo for the youngster who seems eager to impress the Goodison faithful.
Overall, I think this was a good first game back at Goodison. There is a lot to be excited about especially with the new lads looking so impressive. I am excited for the season ahead and think we can genuinely push the top 6, after a smart summer of acquisitions, Silva appears to be delivering his side of the bargain and with Iwobi, Kean and many others still to be brought into the mix, we are in for a strong campaign.
All stats via Whoscored.