Sports Mole previews Wednesday’s Premier League clash between Watford and Everton, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
A Watford side with their fate already sealed meet an Everton outfit still battling to avoid the drop in the Premier League at Vicarage Road on Wednesday evening.
The Hornets’ demotion was confirmed with a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at the weekend, while the Toffees’ strong form continued with a 2-1 success away to Leicester City.
Despite enjoying a terrific reception from the Crystal Palace faithful, Roy Hodgson could not produce a miracle against his former club, who were in no charitable mood towards their former manager as they confirmed the Hornets’ demotion with a narrow 1-0 triumph on Saturday afternoon.
Wilfried Zaha‘s penalty with 31 minutes gone was all it took for Palace to condemn Watford to another season of Championship football, and Hassane Kamara‘s red card certainly rubbed salt into the wounds for Watford, who are already preparing for a major summer of rebuilding.
The trigger-happy board are already searching for the next man to take the poisoned chalice at Vicarage Road, and Watford’s only saving grace now will be staving off the threat of Norwich City to finish 19th, but the Canaries find themselves just one point behind their fellow second-tier returnees.
Defeat to Crystal Palace marked a sixth loss on the bounce for the hapless Hornets, who have now been relegated from the Premier League before the end of the season on three occasions and are running the risk of equalling an unwanted English football record with continued defeats at home.
Indeed, Watford have suffered a top-flight record 11 consecutive defeats on their own patch, and only Rochdale have ever lost more in English football – 14 in a row in the Third Division between 1931 and 1932 – and their chances of breaking such a streak are not all that high against a rejuvenated Everton side.
The great escape is in full swing for Frank Lampard and his in-form Everton crop, who have refused to let their Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool impact their scrap for survival and are now seeking three consecutive victories for the first time in the Premier League this season.
The Toffees followed up their narrow success over Chelsea by getting the better of Leicester – who were jelly-legged from their Europa Conference League heartache – as Vitaliy Mykolenko‘s volley and Mason Holgate‘s header came either side of Patson Daka‘s equaliser for the Foxes.
Taking 10 points from the last 15 on offer in the division has allowed Everton to clamber out of the dreaded drop zone and into the safety of 16th spot – one point clear of Burnley and Leeds United with a game in hand – but the job is far from complete for Lampard’s men.
Victory at the King Power saw Everton halt a seven-game losing run away from home in the Premier League, but they are now without a clean sheet in 18 on the road and could have done without two fresh defensive injury concerns before meeting a Watford side ready to play with the shackles off.
Not one Toffees fan needs reminding of Joshua King‘s hat-trick in a 5-2 Watford thumping at Goodison Park earlier in the season, but the Hornets have never won back-to-back league games against Everton and will have little motivation to end that streak now that their fate has been sealed.
Watford Premier League form:
Everton Premier League form:
After being penalised for the handball which awarded Palace their game-winning penalty last time out, Kamara took the walk of shame for two bookable offences and will serve his suspension this week.
Tom Cleverley and Samir were both forced off with knocks in the loss to Palace and have joined Juraj Kucka, Joao Pedro and Imran Louza in the infirmary, while Cucho Hernandez is unlikely to return just yet either.
Hodgson will likely make a number of alterations with nothing left to play for this season, with 19-year-old Kwadwo Baah in particular seeking promotion from the Under-23 squad to earn some top-flight minutes.
As mentioned, Lampard was dealt two blows with Mykolenko and Yerry Mina both being forced off with injuries in the win over Leicester, but the Toffees boss is hopeful that the former is only suffering from cramp.
However, Mina lasted 18 minutes before being withdrawn with a calf problem, so Michael Keane is on standby, while Donny van de Beek, Ben Godfrey, Nathan Patterson and Andros Townsend remain out of contention.
Jonjoe Kenny will likely come in on the flank if Mykolenko is not passed fit for the contest, but a largely similar Toffees XI should be deployed, meaning another appearance on the bench for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Ngakia, Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, Masina; Sissoko, Kayembe, Etebo; Sarr, King, Dennis
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Holgate, Keane; Iwobi, Delph, Doucoure, Mykolenko; Gordon, Richarlison, Gray
We say: Watford 1-2 Everton
With nothing but pride on the line, Watford might be permitted to play with a greater sense of freedom in the knowledge that they have nothing more to lose, but their Vicarage Road streak has been nothing short of abysmal.
Everton must still have their wits about them – especially given their track record of goals conceded on the road and fresh injury concerns – but Lampard’s side are playing out of their skin and should boost their survival hopes further with a crucial triumph.
Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats, suggests the most likely outcome of this match is a Watford win with a probability of 36.57%. A win for Everton has a probability of 35.91% and a draw has a probability of 27.5%.
The most likely scoreline for a Watford win is 1-0 with a probability of 10.81%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome are 2-1 (7.92%) and 2-0 (6.58%). The likeliest Everton win is 0-1 (10.69%), while for a drawn scoreline it is 1-1 (13.01%).