RECAP VS NEWCASTLE UNITED
“We are bitterly disappointed really to come away with nothing. As a team we created a lot of chances and we have been punished for not taking them,” said captain, Adrian Mariappa after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Newcastle at St. James’.
It was a game in which the Golden Boys were approaching on the back of two clean sheets, scoring five goals, securing six points before visiting the Magpies. Unfortunately, the Watford Achilles heel came back to nip them in the 65’, when Ki Sung-yueng’s free kicked glanced off the head of Ayoze Perez, past Ben Foster to give Newcastle a 1-0 lead. It was all they needed to secure three points.
For the Hornets, it was 90’ of sheer frustration, as they controlled the game and dominated possession. However, the game isn’t played on paper, with 16 shots on goal Watford weren’t golden, but wasteful. “We can speak about how many players had a good chance to score; Stefano Okaka, Roberto Pereyra hit the crossbar, Adrian Mariappa, Isaac Success, a lot of players had clear chances” said Watford boss, Javi Gracia after the game.
Mariappa was critical of his team’s performance, “We are bitterly disappointed really to come away with nothing. As a team we created a lot of chances and we have been punished for not taking them.” Watford finished the game with just a single shot on goal. It’s an aspect of this year’s team that needs improvement. Issac Success has been a real “shot in the arm” to the strike force, but his three chances on the day resulted in the only shot on target.
Gerard Deulofeu could be the key up front for the Hornets. The Spaniard is still working his way back and Gracia continues to limit his minutes. He posted four chances during the game, all inside the box but nothing that bothered Martin Dubravka into a save. Could he partner with Troy Deeney upon the captain’s return to fitness? It’s something Gracia needs to sort out before the schedule toughens.
Ben Foster: Not much Foster did wrong on the weekend, facing just two shots on target. The deflected goal was going to force any goalkeeper into a reaction save. Coming from the top of the six-yard box, the chances of that save were very low.
Kiko Femenia: Didn’t see Femenia as a major player going forward in the Watford attack. Early in the game, Newcastle were creating down the left flank, which saw Femenia playing a bit deeper, unable to venture too far forward. That said, played well enough to remain in the thoughts of FPL managers as a fifth defender.
Jose Holebas: Pleased to see him back in the starting XI after sitting out one for yellow card accumulation, followed by a second game, as Adam Masina started in his place. On the day, he was poor. His set piece delivery wasn’t there and struggled to contain a lively Newcastle attack down the flank. Unfortunately, attitude got the best of him and he was booked…again! That makes six yellow cards in nine starts on the season. Could see him missing out again before the holiday period is over. Can’t look at him as a viable option for any defense right now.
Robert Pereyra: The Argentine continued to look lively down the left flank, something he hasn’t appeared to be away from Vicarage Road. While he didn’t score, he did see a shot comeback off the crossbar in a woulda, coulda, shoulda moment. While the numbers don’t back his influence in the game, he continues to play very well for the Golden Boys. Hold if you have him, but with inconsistent returns, I wouldn’t buy.
Gerard Deulofeu: Much like Pereyra, he was the best offensive player on the pitch Saturday. His chance creation was excellent, especially a ball played to Issac Success, who couldn’t take advantage. On the day Deulofeu had four shots, all inside the box. Two of those chances were big chances, early on that went begging. At his price, he’s the best-looking Hornet currently. Be wary of his minutes played, which are still being limited.
Will Hughes: Starting again on the right flank and didn’t feature much moving centrally. This due to the Newcastle defense tightening down the passing lanes that usually allow Hughes to operate. Very little space for him to be effective, which meant he wasn’t much of a factor on Saturday. I picked him up him ahead of this game, as he’s good value at his price. Expectations aren’t all that high, but he’s highly active in the Hornets attack.
Isaac Success: A disappointment for the big Nigerian up front, who had some good chances inside the box and came up with the Hornets ONLY shot on target. Going forward, I think Gracia removes him from the starting XI with Troy Deeney on the mend ahead of So’ton. Consider him a hold at this point, especially if you have him as a third forward. He will continue to get minutes and all it will take is a cameo appearance goal and he will be back as a possible starter.
PREVIEW VS SOUTHAMPTION
Watford travel to the south coast this weekend as they look to regain their golden form, as they visit Mark Hughes and Southampton. Both teams look to rebound from losses the previous week. Watford were dominating in their 1-0 loss to Newcastle, while the Saints went 3-0 down inside of 20 minutes to lose 6-1 to Man City.
For Watford, Javi Gracia’s men will look to make the most of their opportunities in front of the goal. After a dismal performance that saw the Golden Boys fire just one shot on Martin Dubravka last weekend, the Watford boss could shake up the front line. Gerard Deulofeu was the most impressive attacking asset that the Hornets had last Saturday, but his four chances on goal were for not. His movement and skill, as well as interplay with Roberto Pereyra and Will Hughes caused trouble for Newcastle all game.
The midfield play continues to be strong for Watford, who will be without Etienne Capoue this weekend as he’s accumulated five yellow cards. This will potentially open the door for Nathanial Chalobah to partner with Abdoulaye Doucoure in the central midfield. “I think Chalobah is a very good player and he always has a chance. It doesn’t depend only on my decision and other players are playing really well,” said Gracia. Chalobah, now fit has made two cameo appearances on the season and got a call up to make his senior debut for England.
Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra continue to play key roles going forward for the Hornets. The link up play created by this duo, coupled with that of Deulofeu has been very impressive since his return to the starting XI. Pereyra has struggled with inconsistency this year, as he’s Watford’s leading goalscorer with five. The return of Deulofeu starting up top continues to see Will Hughes start out of position on the right flank with freedom to slide into a more central role, which increases his effectiveness.
As a defensive unit, Watford have played very well in their last three games, conceding just the one goal last weekend off a free kick. They continue to play mistake free defense and Ben Foster hasn’t really been tested over that period. Like Newcastle last weekend, So’ton have just six goals on the season. The likelihood of the defense having a difficult matchup this weekend is slim.
One concern, Jose Holebas, who returned to the starting XI last weekend, after no participation in the previous two. While he’s free kick deliveries are much needed, they were dismal against Newcastle and a late squabble saw him pick up his sixth yellow (in nine games) of the season. Against the Magpies, he was more of a liability than an asset. This could be another spot start for Adam Masina.
As for the Saints, there are not many positives to pull from this Hughes led squad. Their fluke goal last weekend was a mistake by Ederson, then creation by So’ton. They rank last over the last four weeks with just one goal, that coming off a successful Danny Ings penalty kick against Man City. In defense of their offense, they have 20 shots on target over the last four games, which is eight more than Watford.
While their offensive numbers aren’t terrible it’s the defense that has struggled, conceding nine goals over the period, conceding 54 shots on goal, including two errors that have led to goals. Six of those goals came last week to City and three to Chelsea, in between Bournemouth and Newcastle played the Saints to scoreless draws. So which defense shows up against Watford?
Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand could be key, as they play an attacking style defenses, moving from box to box. The Hornets could potentially benefit in a quick counter-attack with the likes of Pereyra and Hughes. Mario Lemina plays a defensive midfield position that could be integral for So’ton, as he will be called upon to drop deeper to contend with the Watford attack.
What looked concerning, last week was the creativity and ball movement by Man City in the attacking third. While the Hornets aren’t City, they do have very good skill in the final third to cause problems for the Saints defense. The play between Peyera, Deulofeu and Hughes is impressive; their movement and dynamics together have been creating many chances for Watford. The problem has been finishing those chances; 11 big chances taken resulting in just five goals over the last four games.
While the Golden Boys dropped three points away from the Vic, I still feel they are favored ahead of the weekend fixture Based solely on their performance last weekend, the activity in the final third and possession and control of the game, effort is not to be questioned. “If you do not score and kill the game when you have the chance to do something like today can happen…I can be disappointed today with the result because I think we have done many things well, but I can’t be disappointed with the way my team played,” said Gracia.
Prediction: Southampton 0 Watford 2