Slotted safely in seventh and with a Europa League qualification spot guaranteed, Everton will have little to fight for against Watford, who are looking for a single point that would guarantee Premier League survival.
Season as good as over at Goodison
Two games before the end of the season Ronald Koeman’s men can’t drop lower than their current seventh place in the standings and the Toffees will surely have some issues staying focused for the entire ninety minutes knowing the season is as good as over for them. Unable to mount a more serious challenge and join the top-four fight, the Goodison-based club have seen a slight drop in form over the past three matches. Goalless draw at West Ham was followed by back-to-back defeats to Chelsea and strugglers Swansea as Everton failed to score a single goal over last 270 minutes of play. Days ahead of the match at Goodison there was a ceremonial atmosphere in the club as Everton held the annual end-of-season awards night on Tuesday. Striker Romelu Lukaku was named Everton’s Player of the Season by both his teammates and supporters, but the next two games could very well be the last games in an Everton shirt for the Belgian. The 23-year-old is linked with a move away from the club and there is no doubt that the Toffees would miss his 24 Premier League goals.
Ronald Koeman hopes to have Morgan Schneiderlin back after a thigh injury, whereas James McCarthy is stil la major doubt due to his hamstring problem. The season is well over for Yannick Bolasie, Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman and Aaron Lennon.
Hornets need one big push
Watford will try their best not to miss an opportunity to confirm their Premier League status at Goodison. Hornets only need a point from their clash with Everton to officially secure their position above the relegation zone and there is no doubt that Walter Mazzarri’s men will do their best to succeed. Watford have a game in hand on their Friday’s rivals, but the trip to Everton might also be their last chance to save the season as they have big games coming up in the last two rounds – against Chelsea and Manchester City. The current campaign has been rather disappointing for Watford who finished last season in 13th place and some fans even decided to voice their discontent by shouting the name of Quique Sanchez Flores at Leicester City last weekend, when Hornets were dealt with a 3-0 defeat. It was Watford’s third loss on the bounce as Mazzarri’s men previously lost to Hull City and Liverpool, respectively. Having scored only one goal in their last five matches, Hornets will need to put on their scoring boots back on again if they want to secure a positive result from their trip to Goodison. Watford missed Odion Ighalo this season, whereas Troy Deeney failed to replicate his last season’s form isolated in attack.
Miguel Britos is nearing a return, but the game at Everton is coming too soon for him. Jose Holebas returns however, but Craig Catchcart and Ben Watson are major fitness doubts.
Everton players just want to get this season over with as soon as possible and we could expect them to lower their guard against Hornets on Friday. Mazzarri’s men need to send a strong message that they are here to stay and will be expected to head charging in straight from the off.
Top pick: Draw 4.75 (15/4) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 2.25 (5/4) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – no 2.00 (1/1) @Betfair