Off an exhilarating come from behind win in Gameweek 4 against Spurs, the Hornets were put to the test as the Red Devils visited Vicarage Road. It was a surrealistic feeling hearing Z-Cars playing as the teams took the pitch. While I was confident in the unchanged starting XI for Watford, there was a hint of uneasiness. Could the Golden Boys do it again?
Early on it wasn’t the best showing for Watford, as they seemed a step slow to the ball, as United dominated possession and controlled the tempo of the game. A few early changes from Paul Pogba forced Ben Foster into action numerous times.
However, it would be the play of former Hornet, Ashley Young who would be key in the first United goal with a beautifully placed cross that found the chest of Romelu Lukaku off the bounce. Unfortunately, there seemed to be some confusion and a momentary lapse defensively, as the Belgium went in uncontested to put the visitors up, 1-0.
Moments later, off a corner, it was Young again showing up his former team with a well delivered cross that found the head of Marouane Fellaini. It was played to Chris Smalling, who trapped it on his chest, spun and volleyed the ball past Foster, as the Hornets went down 2-0. It was a bit disheartening, as Watford hadn’t played bad, but just not up to the level of United. A few lapses in defense, especially the Smalling goal were cause for frustration.
The start of the second half seemed to have awaken the Golden Boys, as their play improved, creating numerous chances on David De Gea. In the 64’ it would be Abdoulaye Doucoure on the end line, finding a wide open, Andre Gray at 12-yards, as he fired it past De Gea, giving a bit of spark to the team and the Vic, as Watford cut the lead in half.
On 72’ Javi Gracia brought in Kiko Femenia for Daryl Janmaat at right back. His play in a short span of time have some supporters questioning why this guy isn’t starting. He provided a few beautifully placed crosses since coming into the game.
It would be a final roll of the dice in the 90+3’, as Will Hughes was brought down by Nemanja Matic, already on a yellow, received a second and was dismissed. Hughes set up to take the set piece and delivered in fine form with a ball that found the head of Christian Kabasele, who put it on target. Had it not been for the reflex and acrobatics of De Gea, forced into a save, Watford would have stolen a point. The De Gea save, coupled with a failed corner and the game was over. Final score, 2-1 Manchester United.
Player Report Card
This week I skip the report card and discuss the viability of owning Watford players.
At this time I don’t really see much fantasy value in owning any Watford players. Sure, as a team Javi Gracia has them playing some excellent football, based on the fact they’ve scored 12 points on the back of 4 consecutive wins. The fans as Vicarage Road are completely behind Gracia to lead the team and the team has responded better than expected.
When it comes to the fantasy aspect, we have seen some early season, stand out performances from Jose Holebas (£4.8), posting 4 assists and a goal. We have also seen Roberto Pereyra (£6.3) start with 3 goals in three games. Captain, Troy Deeney (£6.1) and Andre Gray (£5.9) have built a strong partnership up front, playing well with and off of each other.
Last year, it was Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.9) who quietly put together a 7-goal season, but not on the scoresheet this season, he with his midfield partner, Etienne Capoue (£5.0) have been strong and commanding in the midfield. Now five games in, neither carry any fantasy value. As for Will Hughes (£5.0), I still hold out faith, he becomes that player many fantasy managers turn to. However, playing OOP on the right flank, for the missing Gerard Deulofeu (£5.4), hasn’t seen him as heavily involved, than if he was in central role. Thankfully, Gracia has given him the freedom to slide inside on a regular basis, where he has been more dangerous and integral to Watford.
As for Deulofeu, we could see him return to fitness this week. While it appeared, he was ready to go against United, the decision was made not to rush him back since the Hornets had been playing so well. That’s a testament to the squad, as Gracia hasn’t changed the starting XI in the first five games of the season. When Deulofeu is judged to be fit, rest assured he will be slotted back into the right flank and should pair very well with Pereyra down the opposite flank. But what happens to Hughes? Let’s not forget about Nathaniel Chalobah (£4.5).
One of two scenarios; first he takes over the midfield playing between Capoue and Doucoure, which means either Deeney or Gray end up on the bench. The other option, he replaces Capoue, but feel that will weaken the presence in the defense, especially with Hughes’ attacking potential.
Defensively, the back four are set. Christian Kabasele (£4.5) and Craig Cathcart (£4.5) continue to look better each game together in the central defensive roles. On the left, unless he falls out of form or gets suspended because of yellow card accumulation, Holebas will continue to hold down a starting position. The right back position, could belong to Daryl Jamaat (£5.0) for now, but Kiko Femenia (£4.3) looked excellent in just 18 minutes against Man United.
This is a great problem for Watford to have, many players in form and playing well, but no spot in the starting XI. It seems to be a case of the team is stronger than their individual performances. So while, I don’t have a report card to pass on Watford’s first loss, I can’t recommend any of their players to be in a starting XI spot.