After a dominating 2-0 performance in GW1, Watford headed north to Turf Moor and Burnley. Watford had been winless on the road in 2018 coming into this fixture agaisnt Sean Dyche, with the Hornets falling short both times last season 1-0 and 2-1. This is a different Watford squad and Burnley, after 51 years are involved in European football.
It took Watford just three minutes to get on the board, Will Hughes and Andre Gray combined to send Troy Deeney away down the right flank, Gray continued his run into the 18-yard box and sent a volley past the outstretched arm of Joe Hart to give the visitors a 1-0 lead from Deeney’s cross. Unfortunately, a defensively lapse, as Ben Foster got caught out on a corner kick saw Johann Gundmundsson find James Tarkowski, the central defender nodded home a goal to draw Burnley level. That would be the extent of scoring for the Clarets.
It was all Watford after the break, as the Hornets captialized just 3 minutes in, again Will Hughes the catalyst, feeding the ball through to Deeney with a shot that was blocked out to Abdoulaye Doucoure, as Deeney continue he run, a quick pass and Deeney slotted the ball past Hart to give the Hornets a 2-0 lead. Moments later, Burnley gifted Hughes possession in their half and the midfielder took it straight down the middle with a shot from 20 yards, past Hart to seal the victory for Watford.
Player Report Card
Ben Foster | Grade: B
I still favor Ben Foster as the leader of the defensive unit. While Watford conceded a goal, from a corner, the marking looked good. Unfortunately, Foster got caught up in traffic in the middle of the box and was unable to recover to his right to potentially make a save. That said, Foster looked good for the Hornets, as he faced 8 shots, but just three were on target.
Fantasy: Foster is worth having in your squad as a regular starter or in a rotation, when Watford plays at the Vic. While we take this first road win in 2018 in our stride, the Hornets do face Spurs and United, back to back starting in GW4.
Will Hughes | Grade A
While others fancied Hughes’ play last weekend, I thought it was lacking in performance. Sunday against Burnley, it was evident he was the catalyst in the midfield, even playing wide right. He chipped in with the third goal for the Hornets and had the most tackles (6), most chances created (2) and completed the most passes in the final third (13). Think what he would do, if he were playing in a central role?
Fantasy: At 5.0, he’s one to keep on your watchlist. While his numbers aren\t as impressive at that of Tom Cairney, Jack Cork or N’Golo Kante, he’s an important player in the Watford midfield. While it’s more of a question than a concern, I will be curious to see where Javi Gracia starts Hughes when Gerard Deulofeu returns.
Roberto Pereyra | Grade D
As expected, an away fixture for Pereyra wasn’t what the Argentine needed after his opening day brace. While not obsolete, his Sunday performance wasn’t memorable. Pereyra spent more time supporting the likes of Troy Deeney and Andre Gray up front, as well as Jose Holebas behind him.
Fantasy: At 6.1, I am still holding him on a watchlist. It’s readily apparent he will continue to struggle on the road. While he looks sharp on the ball, he still leads all Hornets midfielders with penalty touches (9), goals (2) and attempts (4). Need to see more consistency from the winger before investing in him.
Andre Gray & Troy Deeney | Grade A
Like last week, I rate the Watford forwards together, as this is when they are at their best. A quick comparison against last season and they have already combined for 2 goals, when on the pitch together. Each walked away with a goal agaisnt Burnley, as Deeney assisted Gray in the opening minutes of the game. Deeney then received a return pass from Doucoure, just inside the 18-yard box and slotted it past a diving Hart.
Fantasy: All appears to be coming up roses for the Watford’s front men, but at 6.0, I feel there are still better options that are more reliable from week to week. We await that first game that Gracia drops one of them, but together they have been outstanding. Continue to watchlist both forwards.
It’s been somewhat of a dream start, the first two weeks of the seasson, back to back wins, 6-points and 5 goals. Players have stepped in to fill roles that were felt void after last season, as Watford look to add valuable points to the tally early in the season. Up next, Crystal Palace, at Vicarage Road, bubut after that, the run gets more competitive, which is when we will see what this squad is made of.