Writer: Paul Conatzer
It’s almost like Everton have a hangover. A post-Merseyside derby hangover.
After turning in one of their best performances in recent memory against Liverpool at Anfield, only to be denied a deserved point as Jordan Pickford’s mistake allowed Divock Origi to grab a 96th-minute winner. Boosted by that performance, Everton looked to have a pair of winnable home games against Newcastle and Watford.
Perhaps it was the three games in a little more than a week that knocked Everton out of its stride, or perhaps it was the derby hangover. Whichever it was, Everton drew 1-1 against the Magpies and 2-2 against the Hornets.
It was a tough result for Everton manager Marco Silva and Richarlison, who both worked for Watford last season.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for Lucas Digne’s first Everton goal, it could have been worse for the Blues. Digne curled in a magnificent free-kick as time was ticking away to even the score and save the blushes of Seamus Coleman, who gave Watford their equalizer with an unfortunate own goal and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who missed his second penalty of the season. The French left back’s goal kept alive two streaks. First, that Watford has yet to win at Goodison in 13 visits and secondly that Everton haven’t lost this season when they score first.
Everton couldn’t have scripted the start to the match much better as Richarlison slotted home a nice pass from Andre Gomes. Watford believed the goal should have been disallowed because Theo Walcott touched the ball whilst in an offside position. However, the flag stayed down. Walcott and Seamus Coleman weren’t really at the races for much of the game, especially in the second half.
It was Richarlison’s eighth goal of the season as he continued to score whether he plays up front as striker or on the left side. After that, it was a familiar tale for Everton as their lack of another goal-scorer told.
Watford’s Troy Deeney told Sky Sports the Hornets were steaming after referee Kevin Friend gave them the brush off about the missed offside call.
Spurred on, the Hornets swarmed all over Everton who started the second half like they had been catching the sun at a summer afternoon picnic.
It was a surprise it took them so long to score after the re-start. The equalizer came in the 63rd-minute when Roberto Pereyra’s shot hit the post and rebounded in off Coleman. They struck again two minutes later when the outstanding Abdoulaye Doucoure rose above Coleman at the far post to beat Jordan Pickford.
After going 2-1 down, Everton continued to be lacklustre and seemed to lack any edge. The usually-reliable Idrissa Gueye was ineffectual and gave the ball away several times, Sigurdsson didn’t have his usual touch, as was illustrated by his penalty miss. The Everton No. 10 had Ben Foster going the wrong way, but his tame shot hit Foster in the boot. It was as if he had been aiming for it.
Silva was not happy with his side’s second-half performance.
“I told the players that I didn’t like our second half. It was not a normal second half for us. We have to display our quality on the pitch a bit more, to play our way and try to score a second goal,” he told Sky Sports in a post-game interview.
It appeared Everton was heading to its second home defeat of the season until Digne stepped up and curled his free-kick past a stranded Foster. Free kicks in that area of the pitch are usually taken by Sigurdsson, but perhaps his penalty miss had given the Iceland star the jitters and he left it to the French left-back, who equalized.
With the two draws, Everton have dropped into seventh and are two points behind Manchester United.
Everton are slumping at the worst possible time as they travel to Manchester City on Saturday with City likely to be out for blood after losing to Chelsea last weekend. Silva must be hoping that City run wild against Hoffenheim in Wednesday night’s Champions’ League fixture and tire themselves out celebrating.
That 4-0 Everton win at Goodison Park in Pep Guardiola’s first season as City’s boss seems as if it were in another time. Tottenham come calling at Goodison after the City game.
If Everton continue slumping, they could find themselves out of the Top 10 by the New Year.