Match CentreOpposition View

View From The Opposition – Everton, Watford

Our build up to the new season continues as we share the views of our Premier League panel with a look at two clubs that had more than a passing word with each other last season, Everton and Watford.

Everton @theblueroomefc

Q. What are the fan expectations?

For the first time in many years it’s difficult to put a tangible league placing in regards to expectations. We’re a club that’s traditionally had “the best of the rest” tag in modern Premier League parlance, however, following a quite embarrassing couple of years recruitment wise, I think many other clubs have caught up to us. Don’t be fooled by the eighth place finish last season, we’re genuinely one of the worst footballing sides in the league.

That said, (thankfully) a new manager, Director of Football and board restructure, means the club have gone to some length at re-establishing an identity with which we can move forward. I think there’s a general acceptance from level headed fans that this will take time and several transfer windows, so for that reason I’m going to say that I just want to enjoy watching my team again and I expect to see that under Marco Silva – how that manifests itself into a league position, for once to me personally yet within reason, isn’t the be all and end all.

Q. Which position does your team desparately need to improve?

Central defence. Michael Keane and Ashley Williams have seemingly found new ways and depths for our fan base to quarrel over which has been the worst singing in recent years. For a manager that likes to play a high line, these two would only be comfortable sitting on our own goal line, such is their lack of pace and mobility. Phil Jagielka, now approaching 37, is still our best defender, at a club which conceded more league goals last season than two of the relegated sides.

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine?

Ademola Lookman would’ve been my answer to this, but there have been some real issues with his future in the balance and an apparent desire to leave. It’s hard not to get excited about Richarlison’s arrival, but I’m backing Gylfi Sigurdsson to rediscover the form that saw us pay £45million for him a year ago. He’s finally had a pre-season under his belt and was again Iceland’s talisman at the World Cup.

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

Such a difficult question. I think the standard in the league last term was one of the worst we’ve seen. I’m not quite sure how we finished eighth, but it’s an indictment of the quality on show that we did. This year I think a number of sides will be vying for top half finishes having improved over the summer as opposed to last season where so many seemed content with staying in the division. I don’t think Wolves and Fulham have come up to make up the numbers, whilst West Ham have made some big moves in the market.

It’ll be much more competitive outside of the top six, but I still find myself reverting to my stock answer here….seventh. It’s been 23 years since Everton last lifted a trophy. I’m backing us to lift the League Cup under Marco Silva to end that drought. The FA Cup will undoubtedly see us get a horrific draw in the third or fourth round and go out.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winners?

  • Premier League – Manchester City, Liverpool to run them close (around 10-12 points)
  • Relegation – Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United (Rafa will walk, Ashley will cause chaos)
  • League Cup – Everton
  • FA Cup – Arsenal

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

I really like Palace and actually think for some time now they’re the side best equipped outside of the top six when going away from home to the big boys. Pacey wingers and guys who can head and finish in the box, it’s very old school and it’s refreshing in the days where pressing and number tens are all the rage. There’ll be none of the concerns there were last season in the early going so I predict a solid mid-table/top half finish – ninth or tenth for me. Obviously keeping Wilfried Zaha is key, but Palace are far from a one man show. A club on the up.

Watford @hornetsnestwfc

Q. What are the fan expectations?

Last season turned out to be a major disappoint after our blistering start to the campaign. The Marco Silva saga played its part and in the end our season fizzled out into nothingness. This season is a strange one, we are hoping for a top half finish of course, but lack of signings in key areas during the transfer window has cast doubt in the minds of some ‘Orns.

Q. Which position does your team desperately need to improve?

We need a striker, it’s as simple as that. Abdoulaye Doucouré was our top scorer last season with seven goals from defensive midfield. Andre Gray and Stefano Okaka are still with the club but it’s rumoured Troy Deeney may be off to Cardiff City should the right money come in.

Q. Name a player from your club that will shine?

Will Hughes. The attacking midfielder showed glimpses of what he was capable of last season, but a spell on the sidelines due to injury put a stop to that. His movement on and off the ball makes him a key asset to this Watford side as he tries to play his way into the England set up.

Q. Where will your team finish in the league and how will they do in the cups?

I’ve put us down for a ninth place finish, making it our best finish since 1987 under Graham Taylor. This is however dependent on our business in the transfer window. If we fail to recruit well I can really see us struggling sadly. We will reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup before being beaten by Manchester City, despite a heroic performance and our proud tradition of going out in the second round of the League Cup to lower league opposition will continue as we lose to Wycombe Wanderers in extra time.

Q. Predict the title winners, teams relegated and domestic cup winner?

  • Premier League – Manchester City
  • Relegated – Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United (Palace surviving by a whisker…)
  • League Cup – Liverpool
  • FA Cup – Manchester City

Q. Your thoughts on Palace and how we will do this season?

I was shocked when Steve Parish announced that you would not be signing anyone, though with recent suggestions that Wilfried Zaha may be on his way it would not surprise me if you did some late business. I can see you struggling if Zaha goes and you fail to replace him, though I think you will have just enough to make it over the line.





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