Watford return to action on Saturday, hosting Eddie Howe and Bournemouth, who’ve won two out of their last three games currently tied with the Hornets on 13 points and in 7th place. The Hornets hit a rough patch, after starting the season undefeated after four games, but have picked up just one point in their last three matches, with Fulham and Arsenal on the road. “In all our home games we want to be a threat and I think we can take anyone on, especially at home. The Bournemouth game will be no different,” said Will Hughes.
Watford continues to play very well on the season but have run into problems late into their recent games. Last week against Arsenal, it was two late goals, two minutes apart that undid a fine performance, but one in which the Hornets didn’t capitalize on the 14 shots they generated. Looking back at the trip to Craven Cottage, it was a 78’ minute goal from Alexsandar Mitrovic. In both games, there were lapses in the defense that led to points being dropped by Watford.
That said, I look for Watford to tighten things up different and hope that Javi Gracia uses his substitutes a bit more effectively than we’ve seen recently. At 34-years-old, Jose Holebas had started the season very well, posting a goal and four assists, but was left sucking air, attempting to chase down a fresh, Alex Iwobi last weekend. The injury to Daryl Janmaat has opened the door for Marc Navarro, who got the start last weekend and Kiko Femenia.
Statistically, Watford has been good, but the game isn’t played on paper and they will have their hands full this weekend with the Cherries. Not sure which team will show up, the one that beat 4-0 at Burnley or the one that defeated Leicester, 4-2. Not sure Eddie Howe knows which team shows up, as Burnley had been one of the worst offensive teams this season. Defensively, Bournemouth has conceded 60 shots, with 20 on target, both near the bottom of the table. The Cherries are among six teams that haven’t recorded a clean sheet.
This game has victory written all over it, as Bournemouth have struggled defensively. Given how active the Hornets have been in their attack, the need to capitalize on those big chances will be key in this game. Andre Gray and captain, Troy Deeney have paired very well all season, as Deeney has stepped up to be a real leader on the pitch, putting in some excellent shifts. There is some concern with Roberto Pereyra, as his numbers have dropped off after netting three goals in the opening three games. Since that time, he’s been without any attacking returns
The possible return of Gerard Deulofeu is exciting news, as the winger nears fitness and could see some time, but his return will add another dimension to the Watford attack. The play of Will Hughes has been consistent all year, starting on the right flank, with the freedom to slide into a central role, where he is more effective. Deulofeu plays a role like Pereyra with the ability to deliver balls into the box, and the pace and skill to cut into the box for a shooting opportunity.
Cherries have been on par with Watford to start the season, behind the play of Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser. Both players have posted excellent numbers to start the season, which has seen Bournemouth rise to 7th in the league table. Wilson has scored two goals and five assists, while Fraser has scored three times, adding two assists.
It will be the first 13-20 minutes to see how Watford come out, off their loss to Arsenal. This will be important for the Hornets to come out, at home with the Rookery End in fine fettle singing. An early goal would go very far in boosting the team’s confidence, as we look to control the game and maintain possession of the ball, something we haven’t done well in the last three games. Watford appears to be a dangerous team in the attacking end of the pitch, even if they struggle with possession.
Bournemouth can generate a strong attack with Wilson, Fraser and Josh King, the bulk of the Cherries offense. The duo of Cathcart and Kabasele only seem to play better, the longer they are partnered with each other. They need to put in a strong performance to limit the chances the Cherries could potentially generate.
It would be nice to see Watford control the game at both ends of the pitch and limit Bournemouth offensively. Both teams have played well to start the season, but feel Watford have been stronger defensively, which should be the deciding factor.
Final score Watford 2 Bournemouth 1.