Although the Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester United match is still to come, Everton are the only Premier League club with two clean sheets to their name in 2019/20 at the time of writing.
As we will discuss, though, this latest shut-out wasn’t straightforward and the Toffees suffered an injury scare to their most-owned Fantasy Premier League defender in the second half.
Everton 1-0 Watford
- Goal: Bernard (£6.5m)
- Assist: Lucas Digne (£6.0m)
- Bonus: Bernard – 3, Digne – 2, Yerry Mina (£5.5m) – 1
Marco Silva didn’t appear too concerned about Lucas Digne‘s (£6.0m) hamstring injury after the left-back limped out of Everton’s win over Watford after 73 minutes.
Digne banked an assist, a clean sheet and two bonus points for his owners but they will now be sweating on his availability for the trip to Aston Villa in Gameweek 3.
Speaking after the match, Silva said:
We hope it is nothing really special. He started to feel a bit more tired [in the muscle] and gave the sign to me to make the change.
Let’s see in the next few days but we hope it is nothing special.
The Liverpool Echo report that Digne will undergo a scan to determine the extent of the problem but Leighton Baines (£5.0m) will be on standby to deputise having only just returned to training himself.
Should Baines and Digne not recover, we may see a repeat of Saturday’s reshuffle: Seamus Coleman (£5.5m) moved over to left-back following Digne’s departure, with Mason Holgate (£4.5m) thrown on at right-back as new signing Djibril Sidibe (£5.5m) wasn’t yet ready to feature.
Digne’s availability may also be being carefully monitored by owners of Gylfi Sigurdsson (£8.0m), who have seen Digne upset the Iceland international’s monopoly at set plays over the last year.
Sigurdsson was barely involved from open play on Saturday, with only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (£6.0m) registering fewer touches among the 22 starters, but carved out two excellent opportunities for Richarlison (£8.0m) from indirect free-kick situations, underlining how important dead-ball duties are to the Icelander.
Richarlison headed both of those chances over and it was another below-par display from the Brazilian, who was hooked on the hour-mark.
Calvert-Lewin again offered little from an offensive perspective and there was an element of fortune about Everton’s winner, with Bernard (£6.5m) collecting a long ball from Digne before firing a deflected effort beyond Ben Foster (£5.0m).
Having scored just three goals in seven pre-season outings, the Merseyside club have only one goal to their name in 2019/20 and there has been little incentive to invest in the Toffees’ attacking assets so far this campaign.
Moise Kean (£7.0m) may be the man Silva’s side have been crying out for, however.
The summer signing looked sharp in an 18-minute showing against the Hornets, managing to do what Calvert-Lewin hadn’t and actually get a shot away on goal.
The former Juventus man fired narrowly wide in stoppage time and it will be interesting to see how quickly his ascent to the first team will come from a Fantasy perspective, given how favourable Everton’s fixtures are in the coming weeks and months.
One thing that perhaps needs addressing is Calvert-Lewin’s work rate in attack and how he fits into Silva’s tactic of defending from the front.
Speaking after this latest clean sheet, Jordan Pickford (£5.0m) said:
It’s a full team effort, really, from the front, whoever starts up top. All the way through, we work hard in training all week. We’re resilient.
I like that the team is solid like we are, we’re not a defensive team at all. We play using a full pitch, and we like to press high.
We have to put quality in our work. The players have to understand the idea and philosophy, and we have to make them believe this is the way we can be stronger as a team.
Whether Kean can afford his side the same protection from the lone striker’s role remains to be seen and is something to monitor for those of us who own an Everton defender.
Saturday’s shut-out owned a bit to luck, it has to be said.
While Everton largely held Watford at bay despite the visitors bossing possession, the Hornets ought to have scored at least once: Craig Dawson (£5.0m) hit the bar from close range, Troy Deeney (£6.4m) fired into the face of Pickford when clean through and Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.9m) couldn’t steer in a deflected shot with the goal gaping.
Roberto Pereyra (£6.4m), back on the left flank in this match, also nodded over when well positioned.
How much Everton will miss Idrissa Gueye is also worth mentioning, with a lot being asked of Jean-Philippe Gbamin (£5.0m) as his replacement.
Watford will have been heartened by Saturday’s display if not the result, with the Toffees not really carving out any clear chances from open play and the Hornets looking more of a threat going forward than they had in Gameweek 1.
While some of his teammates still struggled to hit form, Gerard Deulofeu (£6.4m) was much better playing alongside Deeney up top than he had been in an illness-affected 45-minute showing on the left flank against Brighton and was Watford’s creative spark at Goodison – although failed to register a shot himself.
Danny Welbeck (£6.0m) came off the bench late on, meanwhile, to record his first minutes in a Watford shirt.
Reflecting on the game, Gracia said:
I think today we had a good performance. We were close to getting a better result. I think we deserved a better result.
We had some clear chances, some moments when we dominated the game. We had more possession and the same shots on target, more corners than them. But we didn’t score and we need to try to be better next time.
They scored from a long ball and we were a bit unlucky because our defender touched the shot a little bit.
After, we hit the crossbar, had a clear chance with Troy. I believed until the end.
In the second half, we started dominating and I think we had three corner kicks in the first three minutes. We were playing in the opposition’s half, but you have to score if you want to get points.
Everton season ticket holder @FFEyeTest did what his Twitter handle suggests and gave us his thoughts on Saturday’s game, saying:
Everton started brightly, with the full-backs playing a key role. Digne, in particular, set up the only goal of the game on 11 mins. Picking up the ball in his own half, he played a fantastic long ball to Bernard, who beat his man in the box and scored at the near post (with the help of a small deflection).
Watford’s main chance of the half came from a Holebas corner, a header from Dawson off the bar. The Hornets were a threat in the air all game. Mina nearly gave away a penalty just before half-time but VAR denied it.
Watford started brilliantly in the second period and had the best chance of the half on 57 mins. Richarlison gave the ball away and Deulofeu carried the ball to the edge of the box before playing a fantastic through ball to Deeney, who shot straight at Pickford – he should have scored.
As Moise Kean came on for his home debut, Digne went down off the ball. He went off for Holgate straight away but was able to walk off on his own accord. One to keep an eye on this week.
As Watford pressed for an equaliser at the end, Everton had a couple of chances on the counter with Kean, who looks sharp.
Watford will feel disappointed not to come away with a point, but Everton’s defence ground out a clean sheet yet again – a big three points for the Toffees.
Everton top performers = Bernard/Coleman
Watford top performers = Doucoure/Deulofeu
Everton XI (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne (Holgate 73); Gomes, Gbamin; Richarlison (Walcott 63′), Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin (Kean 72′).
Watford XI (4-4-2): Foster; Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas; Pereyra, Doucoure, Capoue (Gray 83′), Hughes (Welbeck 67′); Deulofeu (Cleverley 78′), Deeney.