Set piece shambles

Let's be clear, there was a lot about Everton's performance that was shambolic on Saturday afternoon.

But, one aspect of the display that would particularly have not been a surprise to many Blues fans sat in their seats would have been the way their side dealt with set pieces.

As the campaign has gone on and the good will from opening results has started to fade, it has exposed just how weak Rafa Benitez's side are proving to be in defending crosses into their own box.

Absences of key players has perhaps played a part in this. Yerry Mina has missed the last two games, for example, and he marshals a defensive line very well - but even he has been present for some flawed Everton displays this term.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison defensive abilities from these situations are also perhaps underrated - but them being injured shouldn't so drastically affect their side's fortunes here.

Whatever way Everton are trying to organise themselves from corners and wide free kicks this season, it is absolutely not working.

Take Saturday afternoon, for example. Watford's first two goals of the match ruthlessly exploited an area that has worried supporters for a number of weeks now.

Joshua King found himself in too much space at the back post in the first half as the initial ball into the box wasn't dealt with. There was an initial question of offside, but VAR eventually gave the goal.

But the equalising goal in the second half was much worse.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez admits mistakes as Everton 'couldn't manage' Richarlison situation against Watford

A corner taken at the Park End by the visitors was a decent ball into the box towards the back post, but it should not have found a towering Juraj Kucka so easily.

The midfielder strode into position with little to no opposition and planted a perfect header beyond Jordan Pickford, picking his spot expertly.

Take nothing away from the header, but from an Everton perspective it was absolutely shambolic defending.

For a corner a few minutes later, exactly the same scenario almost happened again. This time, the Watford man knocked his header over the bar, which led to hugely angry reactions behind the goal.

Everton often bring every player back into their own box from corners. They don't seem to have a man-for-man marking system. In fact whatever system they are using, it's evidently not working.

Unfortunately, it would require much more time than this piece can allow to fully analyse what is going wrong for Benitez's side in these scenarios.

But something needs to change. Watford clearly targeted the Blues at set pieces and found a lot of joy.

They won't be the first team to do that and they won't be the last.

Missing Doucoure

Benitez didn't want injuries to be an excuse for his side before the match, and that can't change after the shambles at the end of the game.

But, that doesn't mean the absence of Abdoulaye Doucoure shouldn't be discussed.

Tom Davies was the man handed the task on this occasion when many had wondered if a change of system might be in order to replace the 28-year-old.

After all, he has been one of the side's most influential players over the course of the campaign, and he often does the job of two players with the copious amounts of effort he plies into every performance.

That proved to be the case against Watford, despite things initially getting off to a strong start in that sense.

Davies sprinted almost the entire length of the pitch in the first few minutes as his side were on a counter attack to get himself into exactly the right place at the right time inside the box.

As he slid in to slam home Demarai Gray's cross, he must have been thinking about how perfect his start to the game had been in replacing someone who had been such an attacking asset to this side.

However, from that point onwards, things spiralled somewhat.

Watford started to dominate more of possession as time went on and Davies was not able to get forward with the same pace and voracity as Doucoure so often has this term.

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The Frenchman's missing energy limited the amount of options that teammates all over the pitch had in terms of passing avenues and it allowed opponents more time in possession.

Davies looked as if he began to tire at the end of the match and that's when Watford really struck, of course.

While defensive mistakes were clearly heavily to blame for the collapse, the play of the midfield in front of them certainly compounded matters as well.

Allan could do nothing to plug the gaps as he and Davies were completely overrun in the final stages of the match.

Maybe if Doucoure had been there things would be different, maybe they wouldn't have been. In essence, that really doesn't matter.

What does matter is replacing the injured man in the side.

Everton after three minutes might have thought they had a solution, but clearly they didn't. It's back to the drawing board.

Striking frustrations

Salomon Rondon is cutting a frustrated figure for Everton.

Towards the end of the first half, a deflected cross from the right flank looped high into the air and safely into the welcoming arms of Ben Foster.

The Blues' Venezuela international, who had hardly had a sniff up to this point, ran in behind the goalkeeper anticipating a potential mistake and ended up behind the goal when he instead claimed the cross.

Rondon swung a kick at the green posts that hold the net up in front of the Park End, clearly angry with the way the match was going for him.

By the end of the game, there were some Everton supporters calling for him to be sent off after a late challenge - following what had been a ridiculous collapse from everyone in royal blue.

Well those chants were probably unfair, there are significant questions that must be levelled at the striker and the decision to persist with him.

Granted he was brought into a tough situation with the injuries to Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, having not had a pre-season behind him.

But now Rondon has started six matches in all competitions for Everton, playing the majority of each. He's been in training for all that time too in an attempt to get himself back into physical condition.

At what point does his situation evolve from that point? At what stage do you have to really analyse what he's actually bringing to the team?

Many would argue that stage has long gone. Not many would argue that the point is still to come.

Rondon is not the same player as Calvert-Lewin and any striker being asked to fill the England international's shoes would find it tricky.

But the Venezuela international needs to show something soon.

Richarlison is fit again and it took him little over three minutes to make an impact from the bench, finding himself in a great central position to produce a diving header past Foster.

Rondon couldn't have looked further from that. He looked a little lethargic, wasn't holding the ball up well enough and not bringing his teammates into the game.

Criticism will be rife about the striker and there's little argument that he can have to defend himself as much as time goes on.

Now that Richarlison is back, his opportunities could easily be more limited in the near future. When Calvert-Lewin returns, where does he stand?

There are certainly a lot of questions to be answered around his position in the side, because at times it seemed as though Everton were playing with ten men on Saturday.

Attitude adjustment

This is a really early point in the season to be talking about the attitude of these players, yet again.

The mentality was something that Benitez found himself asked about after less than ten Premier League matches in charge at Goodison Park.

It's hardly a surprise to Evertonians at this point, which really is the most damning indictment that can be levelled against these players.

Tim Cahill mentioned after the match that "throwing in the towel was never an option".

Unfortunately, it has been an option for this squad on numerous occasions. And it's one that they've not hesitated to grab in the past.

How do you change this? What is it going to take?

Everton fans are understandably tired of asking the same old questions.

The trip to Wolves next time out will obviously have to produce something very different, but what happens after that? How long before this squad of players downs tools in the face of adversity once again?

Consistency is so often an issue, with so many problems seeping through seemingly every area of the squad at stages of each of the last few campaigns.

When will it actually change? When will this attitude be different?

Honestly, at this point, who really knows.