After strong wins against Wolves and Huddersfield, the Hornets got tripped up on their travels to Tyneside against Newcastle. It was a tough 1-0 loss, a game in which the Golden Boys had many opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize on those chance, nor could they finish.
While it was expected they would return home after Newcastle and So’ton with six points, they picked up just one. They still have posted their best start to a Premier League season after 12 weeks currently on 20 points, good for 7th place in the league table.
The trip to the South Coast should have been another game, which saw the Golden Boys return to the Vic with a win, they left St. Marys’ with a 1-1 draw, as Jose Holebas equalized in the 82’, as his shot was deflected past Alex McCarthy.
However, it wasn’t his goal or that of Manolo Gabbiadini in the 20’, when Danny Ings got the ball away from Roberto Pereyra, who failed to clear the corner. It was a long day for the official in charge, Simon Hooper, who was the center of attention after a disallowed goal to the Saints and a no call on Ryan Bertrand’s challenge in the box on Nathaniel Chalobah.
“People go on about VAR, they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It is a joke,” said Charlie Austin, who’s goal was disallowed in the 66’ as the officials believed Maya Yoshida touched the ball or hinder Ben Foster’s view of the play while in an offside position. Austin was quoted post game, “”It is a joke! We play in the Premier League – the officials have cost us two points!”
While he and Mark Hughes have a valid argument, I do agree the goal should have counted. We can’t look past the non-call in the 57’ minute when Chalobah was cut down from behind by Bertrand, which should have resulted in a penalty kick. “To be honest I didn’t see it from my position. It’s impossible to know what happened. But after asking Chalobah he told me it was clear and then it maybe changes the game from that moment. But I prefer to respect the referee’s decisions. Their job is difficult,” said Watford boss, Javi Gracia.
Hooper’s decision was key, as Bertrand could have been issued his second yellow card, resulting in man advantage for the Hornets, potentially changing Austin’s disallowed goal.
As for the rest of the game, it was one in which Watford dominated, but couldn’t separate themselves from the Saints. Pereyra’s failure to clear the ball, resulted in a goal, but the presence of Etienne Capoue was missing, which was key to how Watford played and controlled the game. It was evident that Chalobah wasn’t up to speed for first team inclusion. Aside from the penalty, which wasn’t called Chalobah showed some poor decision making, appeared to be a step behind and had a few questionable and wayward passes on the day. The midfield wasn’t the same dominating force they had been in weeks past.
Gerard Deulofeu continued to shine in his third start at forward, partnering with Issac Success. Early on the Spaniard was very active, putting two quick shots on goal, but came away with no goals.
Troy Deeney looked sharp, on the day returning from injury with seven touches in the penalty box, helping to create and hold up play. He could partner with Success in the coming weeks, if the Will Hughes injury is long term. Hughes left the game in the 40’ with a hip injury that moved Deulofeu out to the right flank as Deeney came on for the remainder of the game.
As we head into the international break, it’s a frustrating time to be a Watford supporter, knowing we should have picked up more points in these last two games, as we look at home games against Liverpool and Man City. I could see looking at buying Watford players starting game week 17, when they host Cardiff, as they go on a good 10 week run with just Chelsea and Spurs
At this point, I am not high on any Watford players. If you have the likes of Jose Holebas (£4.8), Kiko Femenia (£4.3) or Issac Success (£4.6) I would hold these players to come off your bench. Success continues to look impressive in his starts, now with 15 goal attempts, but only 18 penalty box touches. He’s worth a shout as a third forward, for managers looking to start a two-man forward line.
While the defenders can be dropped to the bench, I do think Holebas and Femenia are still good value, especially if you never dropped Holebas during his suspension due to yellow cards. Be forewarned, he could lose another game before they end of 2018. Holebas continues to provide set piece delivery and is advanced in Watford’s attack down the left flank. The interplay between Pereyra, Hughes and Deulofeu appears to give Holebas a bit more room to operate, possibly picking up the odd goal, as we saw against So’ton. Femenia continues to hold down the right back position, as Daryl Janmaat should be back to the squad out of the break. Seeing how Gracia has managed players this season, I do feel it’s Femenia’s job to lose at this point.
While I opted to transfer in Hughes a few weeks ago, the correct decision would have been Deulofeu. My only concern a few weeks back was his lack of match fitness, which saw Gracia withdrawing him after 65 minutes. He played the entire match at St. Marys’ and I do think that will be a regular occurrence. Depending on the Hughes injury (hip), Deulofeu could lose his spot on the forward line and move back out to the right flank. Rest assured, Gracia will give him the freedom, like he did with Hughes to come into a central role with the right back (Femenia) covering the pitch down the right flank. At £5.4, he represents excellent value and has looked the best Hornet going forward in attack.
For managers considering Pereyra (£6.4), he’s been very inconsistent on the season. Back to back goals in successive weeks and three in three games to start the season. Away from Vicarage Road, he’s scored just once, since pulling on a Watford jersey. His price is a bit restrictive as well with the likes of Ryan Fraser (£6.2), Johan Berg Gudmundsson (£6.0) and David Brooks (£5.1) playing very well.