Smiles. This was the first time all season I’ve seen this emotion expressed by the Golden Boys on the pitch. If it wasn’t Ben Foster, it was Andre Gray, Gerard Deulofeu, it was from manager, Quique Sanchez Flores. While the Friday game was a step in the right direction, there are still some glaring issues Watford need to address. Honestly, I feel this was more a failure of Norwich City, then success for Watford.
This was a six-point game, as Watford moved out of 20th in the league table for just the second time this season, as the Canaries woes continue, as their post their seventh consecutive loss. The Hornets on the back of goals from Deulofeu and Gray helped secure the first win of the season, now on eight points after 12 games.
As a supporter, there are two very telling statistics as to how this game played out. First, as is become customary under Sanchez Flores, Watford conceded 65.8% of the possession to Norwich City. This continues to be a trend that will plague Watford going forward. The other telling number, just two shots on target. This game, it worked as those both resulted in goals, but this isn’t a reassuring way to play the game.
Sanchez Flores has admitted his defensive style of football causes problems, “we look a little bit weaker in offence because the moment you take the ball you need to change the shape. And we need to incorporate the backs, we need to incorporate in attack and it should be completely different.” Our last four games have seen a total 22 total attempts, just 10 shots on target and four goals. These numbers represent the struggle the Golden Boys have going forward this season since QSF has taken control.
After Christian Kabasele picked up his second yellow card and came off in the 65th minute, Watford looked to be more organized at back for the final 25 minutes of the game. “I love 4-4-2, I love 4-2-3-1, I love this, this is my system. But everything I try to do, I try to make up something in the period of transition,” said Sanchez Flores.
When it came to the look and formation, Norwich City looked the more organized and dangerous of the two teams going forward with 17 shots, forcing Foster into five saves on the day. The play of Onel Hernandez, his second start, returning from injury, looked to be the most active player for the Canaries, picking up 11 penalties touches, Teemu Pukki with 9 touches, but neither could find a finishing ball. In fact, very few of the shots on target caused Foster problems.
This was Watford’s first win since April 20, when the Hornets defeated Huddersfield Town, 2-1 at John Smith’s Stadium. “We knew this was a significant match and it looks like a final. We tried to give our energy, our spirit, tried to put the soul and the mind on the pitch knowing that they (Norwich) need to win, also like us, they are playing home and they have a lot of supporters,” said Sanchez Flores. While it was a job “well done” the Hornets should come out of the international break with a few more players available when they host Burnley in GW13.
Captain, Troy Deeney was on the bench, but it appeared he was not game fit when Roberto Pereyra came off in the 31st minutes with a hamstring strain. Gray made his 11th appearance on the season and picked up the all-important, second goal out of the break. It’s possible Ismaila Sarr (lower leg), Domingos Quina and Sebastian Prodl return when Premier League player resumes.
Now, eight points on the season, Watford has two more winnable games in this three-game stretch, home to Burnley and away to Southampton. Six important points before hitting a difficult stretch in December.
While not completely sold on our attack based solely on the fact, we are not generating enough shots on target, there is a thought to look at Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1), as he’s still the focal point of the attack. It’s now three returns in the last two games, feeling Burnley and Southampton are both good fixtures for the OOP midfielder.
The same can be said for Daryl Janmaat (£4.3) and Ben Foster (£4.8) over the next two games, as the Hornets have three clean sheets in their last five games. If there is one thing to be said, the defense has been sorted out under Sanchez Flores. Both players would be short terms buys as I would move them both on before GW15 and a trip to the KP Stadium.