Supporters keep hearing the buzzwords to think that Watford are improving, the performance on the pitch hasn’t been worse but has it really improved? Depending on glass half full adage, I am still not pleased with what we are seeing weekly from Watford. Defensively, Quique Sanchez Flores has made inroads, as Watford have conceded just one goal in their last three games, securing two clean sheets, but at what cost? This is the same Watford that got embarrassed 8-0 at Manchester City.
The turn around in the defense is a step in the right direction over the last four weeks, near the top in clean sheets (2), total shots (42) and on target (12). The cost of this defending has been seen in possession figures and the lackluster attack going forward. The Hornets have 36 attempts the last 4 weeks, 12 shots on target and still just one goal. After GW10, Watford is joint last in goals scored (5) with Newcastle. Securing one points draws can be seen as a positive, but this 5-3-2 formation that Sanchez Flores continues to play isn’t doing the Hornets any favor, as we continue to lose pace in the relegation zone.
Saturday, it was another case of the visiting team dominating possession (60%), limiting Watford to just seven shots, three on target. Sorry QSF, we aren’t going to win many games with attacking statistics like those. Something needs to change! Can the manager afford to move away from his current formation and look at a 4-3-3 or a 3-5-2? Last week Danny Welbeck went down with an ankle injury. Combine this with captain, Troy Deeney still sidelined, and we are left with just three forwards. This week, Tom Cleverley came off just 10 minutes in to the game with an ankle injury. Injuries are starting to take their toll, where it was defenders injured last year, it’s midfielders and forwards as there are a combined six being attended to.
Bournemouth isn’t known for their defense, but they did just enough to frustrate the Hornet attackers and secure their second clean sheet on the season. The rain-soaked pitch and wind caused problems for both teams. Sanchez Flores still believes Watford will survive relegation, but he’s not concerned about his team’s ability to create chances. “I think it’s better not to create dramas. It’s true that the numbers say we don’t score too much but the most difficult thing in football is to create attempts and against Sheffield [United], today even we had very clear attempts, so we don’t need to be worried for that. “At the moment we are creating, it’s okay. At the moment we stop creating attempts we should be worried,” said Sanchez Flores.
Creating chances is a great thing but capitalizing on those chances and scoring is important. As a supporter I am more worried we can’t score. Five goals over 10 games and there are no answers to the problems we see going forward. Andre Gray hasn’t been the answer since coming over from Burnley. Gerard Deulofeu has the skills but doesn’t carry the consistency to be the sort of forward Watford needs. Ismaila Sarr, a high-priced, off-season acquisition, might not make it past January depending on where the Golden Boys sit in the league table come the new year.
Ben Foster was our lone bright spot in the game making some strong saves to make up for a few underwhelming performances recently. His play today tells part of the story, the positive effect Sanchez Flores is having at the defensive end of the pitch. However, the Abdoulaye Doucoure miss in the first minute of the game sums up the Hornets season at the attacking end of the pitch. Just three minutes later Craig Dawson would line up a shot off a corner that was blocked.
Very disappointed as a supporter knowing damn well that we can’t continue to smile upon mediocre performances, picking up just one-point returns. Even Brighton & Hove Albion picked up nine wins last year to finish on 36 points, avoiding the relegation zone by two points. Watford continue to play some uninspired football and the January transfer window will be a fire sale, not one to add depth and strength our squad, but to prepare for life in the Championship.
Next week Watford host Chelsea at Vicarage Road, a club that has won it’s last four games, defeating Burnley last week, 4-2.