The first thing I don’t need is Suj jumping my shit, based off how his Hammers came to Vicarage Road last season and posted 4-1 victory over the Hornets to end the Premier League season. The funk Watford ended the season in, continues to linger even after a positive transfer window and some well-played preseason games. The Hornets are now winless in seven straight competitions and eight of the last nine games, talking just four points over that period.
The biggest question headed into the weekend, “what does Javi Gracia do to stem this tide and turn around the squad?” Depending on where you look for news and notes from the club, there could be a change in the starting XI. There has been talk of complacency in the team, evident by the play of Kiko Femenia recently, as well as Jose Holebas.
While the center backs appear to be improved over last season, maybe Watford could use a change, adding journeyman, Adrian Mariappa in that role, giving Craig Cathcart and Ben Foster, a player they relied on and played with much of last year. While the defense struggles were move evident in GW1, Everton turned up with a single goal that was deflected off the shin of Dawson, pass a late diving Foster, as the only goal in the game.
There are more problems in the final third for Watford, over the last five games, Watford have scored just one goals, which came against West Ham in the season finale last year. Gerard Deulofeu, coming off a 10 goal, 5 assist season, picked up an injury ahead of the season, missing the final two preseason games, getting just a half of football on the opening weekend, out of position on the left flank. Last week he returned up front to partner with Troy Deeney. Combined, they have been very ineffective; combined 15 penalty touches and 4 shots between the pair.
The answer could lie in the addition of free transfer, Danny Welbeck. The former England international is still short on fitness, but made his Watford debut last weekend, but didn’t shine. “It was great to get on the field…I was a bit rusty but did the best I could,” said Welbeck. He’s a pure scorer and when he regains match fitness could give Gracia something to think about, if the lack of goals continues.
Further talk centers around the 4-2-2-2 formation no longer working for Watford, as teams plan on how to break it down. Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure continue to be sluggish and sloppy but did have some quality moments last weekend at Goodison Park. A formation change, to take advantage of new arrival from Rennes, Ismaila Sarr could be in order. The wide man could potential take up a left flank position, moving Roberto Pereyra in to a ten roll, pushing Deulofeu back to his right flank spot. Up front, Andre Gray, maybe Welbeck or possibly Gracia sticks to his guns and runs out the captain.
There are seemingly more questions then answers right now as Watford looks ahead to this clash against West Ham. The Hornets could be placing great expectations on Welbeck and Sarr, especially with our poor start to the season. A problem highlighted last week was the lack of width, given players like Pereyra, Deulofeu and Will Hughes all like to move into a central position. Hughes continues to struggle on the right wing, where he continues to start, might we see “Success” in Isaac? Much like Deeney, Success combined strength and speed with the potential to provide balls into the box. Like last season, Femenia could move up the pitch, as his delivers are proper as a wide man, introducing Daryl Janmaat on defense.
Regardless of what the equation is, it’s the result that is needed. Nothing short of a victory this week will be accepted. It could also be a turning point for Gracia, if he doesn’t win, as ownership may start looking for a replacement, even though the Spaniard signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract back in January.
Based on how poor the Hammers have looked over two games, I do feel Watford has been the worse of the two. Much like the Hornets, the Hammers have struggled at both ends of the pitch, it could be a very “boring” game this weekend as both teams look to right the ship and get back to winning ways. The only advantage I see at this point, Z-Cars and the fact Watford can channel the excitement and emotion of the supporter to nick a 1-0 win over Manuel Pellegrini’s squad.