As injuries begin to take their toll on Everton, Rafael Benitez’s strong start to life back on Merseyside has taken quite the hit in recent weeks, with West Ham coming up trumps by a 1-0 scoreline in last weekend’s clash between the two European hopefuls.
Angelo Ogbonna’s 74th-minute header was all that separated the two sides on the day as Everton slipped to just their second defeat of the league season, but it is now just one win in four for Benitez’s side in the top flight.
That underwhelming run of form has seen Everton’s European aspirations take quite the early hit, as they now sit eighth in the table but are one of three teams level on 14 points with West Ham and an under-performing Manchester United side.
Defeat to West Ham prevented Everton from claiming a fifth Premier League win on the bounce on home soil, while last season’s torrid fortunes at home means it is now eight league defeats at Goodison Park in 2021, leaving the Toffees at risk of recording their worst-ever Premier League record at home in a calendar year.
Furthermore, five of Everton’s last eight home meetings with newly-promoted sides in the top flight have ended in defeat – another worrying statistic indeed – but their opponents will still be reliving their previous humiliation at the hands of the other half of the Merseyside duo.
From Mohamed Salah’s peach of an assist and world-class finish to Roberto Firmino’s hat-trick, there was no shortage of joy for Liverpool at Vicarage Road, but it was truly a baptism of fire for Claudio Ranieri upon his return to the Premier League.
Watford’s first game of the post-Xisco Munoz era was a humiliating affair for Ranieri and the rest of the Hornets contingent, one of which in Ben Foster has come under fire from fans and reportedly by the club for making light of the defeat on his YouTube channel.
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Vlogs and The Cycling GK aside, Watford’s worrying haul of one point from their last three Premier League games has seen them drop to 16th in the table after eight matches, and the sense of pessimism around Vicarage Road is certainly growing.
Victory at Norwich City represents the only positive aspect of Watford’s top-flight away journeys so far this term – losing their other three on the road without scoring a single goal – and not since December 2018 have the Hornets claimed an away win against a top-half side.
Furthermore, Watford have suffered three consecutive defeats in their last three clashes with Everton in all competitions, and the Toffees have never lost a Premier League fixture at Goodison Park to their upcoming visitors – posting six wins and two draws from eight games in that hot streak