Heurelho Gomes 8.5
Produced another performance to underline his status as one of the best goalkeepers in the division, keeping Watford in the game with several outstanding saves, starting with two diving efforts to prevent Gerard Deulofeu and then Ross Barkley from finding the top corner in the first half. Went full stretch to stop a low Aaron Lennon effort and could only parry it away, but managed to react faster than Romelu Lukaku to claw away the loose ball and prevent a tap in. Distributed the ball well, commanded his area and topped off his performance with a fine save from a Kevin Mirallas free-kick. If Joel Robles had a good game, Gomes’ was outstanding.
Juan Carlos Paredes 6.5
Came in from the cold to start after Allan Nyom put in two lousy performances against Stoke City and Arsenal. Did a far better job in dealing with Aaron Lennon than Nyom did with Alex Iwobi or Jonathan Walters, often getting in front of the winger to cut out passes before they reached him, so that Lennon’s pace could cause few problems. Covered a lot of ground and was lively going forward, though his crossing was poor, but rarely failed to get back quickly whenever Watford lost possession. Tainted his performance by losing concentration and embarrassingly allowing a pass to roll under his foot.
Craig Cathcart 8
He’ll have no room for his wallet soon as he put another striker in his pocket at Vicarage Road. Seemed to deal even better with the strapping Lukaku than he did on the opening day, staying tight and allowing the striker no chance to bully him or get in behind. Kept the ball out of Gomes’ box with some decent clearances and although a vital block on the line to stop a Lukaku shot after a Deulofeu cross may have been his stand-out moment, it’s not clear just how much he knew about it. As the end of the season nears, Cathcart is a dark horse in the race for player of the season. He should at least make the top three.
Miguel Britos 7
Returned to the side after Sebastian Prodl was preferred at the Emirates and largely performed with poise and assurance. Made his first real mistake in a yellow shirt since the red card at Preston when he tried to bring the ball down on the edge of his area, allowing James McCarthy to open the scoring. He needed to put his foot through it, something he is never afraid to do when, more often than not, he strikes the balance right between when to play and when to punt it. He recovered well from his howler, which says a lot about his mental strength. He won plenty in the air and led the defensive press towards the halfway line.
Jose Holebas 8
His inclusion in the team immediately prompted us to assume that Nathan Ake must had picked up an injury, as that would have been the only reason he was called in from the cold. Think again. Holebas had been left at home for the last three game and nobody with inner knowledge of what goes on at the training ground expected him to play here. But he did – and as he always does, he belied his lack of game time to play with assurance, confidence and no little class. You knew he was on his mettle when he sprinted back to track Deulofeu, dispossess the winger with a fine tackle and clear the danger. He prevented a probable goal from the same player soon after by sliding in to cut out a Ross Barkley cross. He missed a free header moments before Everton took the lead but made no mistake with another chance straight after McCarthy’s opener, finding the back of the net via the head of Seamus Coleman. Had a couple of poor free-kicks miss the target but it’s a sign of his confidence that he put his hand up to take them. He attacked and defended as though he hadn’t missed a game all season, not someone who has been in and out.
Valon Behrami 7
Not his usual self, but that’s partly because he was the one pushed out wide to accommodate the restoration of Capoue in the centre and provide cover for Juan Carlos Paredes from the right of midfield. Worked hard, recycled possession quickly and launched attacks with passes into the feet of Deeney and Jose Manuel Jurado from deep. Beating a man is not his strong suit but he managed to put in one teasing cross towards Ighalo which prompted flashbacks of the final goal against Liverpool in December. Was taken off as Quique Sanchez Flores made a half-time sub for the second successive week. Would prefer to play in midfield three or one of two deep-lying midfielders.
Etienne Capoue 8
You suspected it might his day when he stuck one past Nathan Gartside in the warm-up like a seasoned goalscorer. Flourished in his natural position in the centre of midfield and ran his socks off. Got forward to link up with Deeney and Ighalo and also pressed with the pair when Everton had possession. Tracked back more than he has all season and even found himself at right-back at one point, making a perfect tackle on Barkley on the edge of the box. Didn’t switch off for a moment and was the quickest to react when Watford lost the ball in midfield and almost allowed Tom Cleverley a chance to counterattack. Luck was against him again when an effort heading for the top corner was deflected narrowly wide just before half-time. His best performance in weeks, if not months.
Ben Watson 6.5
Could easily have been talking us through his match-winning goal when we spoke to him post-match had Robles not made a stunning save to stop his deflected effort finding the top corner. Found Holebas with two good deliveries from corners and will have picked up a bonus for an assist with the second. However, one of his corners went straight out of play for a goal kick. Got back and covered for both full-backs and showed composure to calmly backheel the ball to Capoue on the edge of his own box after Deulofeu lost possession. Wasn’t happy with Kevin Friend (he wasn’t the only one) when the referee accidentally blocked him off on the edge of the box, causing an Everton counterattack.
Jose Manuel Jurado 7.5
Showed the creative spark Sanchez Flores knows he has with a sprightly first-half performance that was up there with his 60-minute display against Chelsea at Vicarage Road. Was at the centre of every key attack in the early stages, proving a threat whenever he cut inside from the left wing, skipping past defenders with ease. Would have challenged Adlene Guedioura for the goal-of-the-season award had Robles not tipped his goal-bound effort around the post when Jurado turned his marker and sent an arrow towards the top corner with his weaker left foot. If he had pace he’d be operating on a different level so he rarely attempts to beat his marker in a foot race. Tired after an hour and was, reluctantly, replaced by Nordin Amrabat.
Troy Deeney 7
His link-up play with Ighalo in the first half was reminiscent of the first half of the season. Found his partner with dummies, chested lay-offs and even one spectacular, 40-yard, outside of the foot pass. Showed his usual levels of commitment in getting back to defend in his own half when needs must and was up for a physical battle from the start. Had to control himself after Friend penalised him a handful of times within the first ten minutes. Became isolated in the second but still managed to win his share of aerial duels, providing an outlet when Everton began to press.
Odion Ighalo 6.5
Started well but was unable to sustain it. Dovetailed well with his captain early on, finding him well with one clever backheel, but failed to make a run when Deeney expected him to in the second half. Played a few loose passes and became increasingly isolated when the game became stretched. Burst past John Stones in the second half in a manner similar to the opening day but still looks in need of a rest. We’d favour playing Jurado off Deeney at West Brom next weekend.
Adlene Guedioura 7
Came on for the second half to replace Behrami and earned an immediate round of applause from his sizeable fan club following a neat turn. Produced one of the runs of the match by picking up the ball in his own half, taking on Gareth Barry and then, with a bit of fortune, McCarthy, before teeing up Deeney on the right of the box. Has been criticised for his ball retention but perhaps that is due to his eagerness to impress in his limited time on the pitch. Warrants a start at right midfield if Watford continue with this system.
Nordin Amrabat 6
Replaced the tiring Jurado on the hour to provide some natural width, but had to be reminded by Sanchez Flores to hug the touchline. Found it difficult to get into the game but added a clip to his highlights reel by performing a pirouette around a defender before threading a pass to Capoue through the eye of a needle.
Replaced Capoue, who had run himself into the ground, but did not have enough time to make an impact. Stormed straight down the tunnel at the final whistle, pushing past Sanchez Flores in the process. Seemed to gesture towards the centre of the pitch while complaining to his head coach. It was not clear what his issue was.
Quique Sanchez Flores 7
Had many seasoned watchers and shrewd judges scratching their head with his team selection. To allow Nathan Ake and Ikechi Anya carry the can for the defeat at Arsenal was odd. He should be given credit for belatedly restoring Capoue to the centre of midfield and implementing a back-to-basics-approach. He also introduced the energy of Guedioura and Amrabat at the right moment. Rene Gilmartin reckoned on commentary he had not seen the head coach as animated all season as he was on the touchline yesterday, suggesting Sanchez Flores knew the importance of this one.