Another week in the Premier League. Another loss. That is how far Watford football has fallen in the last 12 months. This time last season, the Hornets had picked up 13 points through the first seven weeks, starting the season undefeated, on 12 points. Since that time, Watford have continued in a death spiral, now out of control could see the Golden Boys lose their luster and slip back into the Championship League at the end of the season.
Saturday was a tale of two teams, one that dominated by the numbers, holding 61.9% of possession but failing to find the back of the net. Like previous games, the defense was the weak link, with poor coverage and an own goal that proved to be too much for the Golden Boys to overcome. “That seems to be the way things are going at the minute,” said Craig Cathcart, referring to Daryl Janmaat’s own goal.
While I continue to focus on the league’s worst defense in the league, conceding 20 goals in the first seven games, Quique Sanchez Flores did address the attacking situation by rewarding Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr with their first Premier League starts. Welbeck was starved of service all day long, as a lone forward. This has been a common theme since the injury to Troy Deeney. The Hornets are unable to hold up play or provide support for Welbeck Or Gerard Deulofeu when playing alone up top. The former England international looked good and was sharper than many of his teammates, while he looked hungry on the pitch, tracking back making the most of his start. Sarr on the other hand struggled for the second straight game. There were a few poor passes and ill-advised shots on target, as he continues to look out of form when on the pitch.
Defensively, there are no answers, only questions. Why is Jose Holebas still starting? The Greek played parts in both Wolves goals on Sunday, disregarding his defensive duties and being yards behind a hard charging Matt Doherty on the Wolves first goal. While he’s got negative history with Sanchez Flores, he’s been a liability at left back. In all honesty, Watford would be strong if Daryl Janmaat was given the start in place of Holebas.
Janmaat got the start in place of Kiko Femenia on the right side but didn’t fare much better. While I give him praise for past performances, Saturday wasn’t his day, as he failed to communicate with Ben Foster and headed the ball past his goalkeeper to give Wolves their second goal. Janmaat wasn’t the only problem, the center back pairing of Craig Dawson and Craig Cathcart struggled to keep their form and deal with the speed and skill of the Wolves forwards.
Are there any answers for the continued poor performances? Based solely on the statistics, one would think Watford won this game, but “possession without performance” doesn’t yield success. At this point Watford is giving the ball away too easily, not taking advantage of the opportunities in the attacking end. On the season, Watford have scored just four goals, for a league low 3.8% goal conversion. Strangely enough, the Hornets are fourth in the league in total attempts, but just haven’t been able to capitalize on those opportunities. For me this starts with formation and Sanchez Flores continues to run out a starting XI that doesn’t feature two forwards. On Saturday, the Hornets didn’t start Will Hughes or Roberto Pereyra, but fashioned a 4-3-3 with Welbeck in the middle, flanked by Gerard Deulofeu on the left and Sarr on the right. Neither were able to provide service for Welbeck.
What we need to see is the return of Hughes to a central role to control and guide the team, this is when Watford has seen some of their better football. Tom Cleverley, after a goal against Arsenal has lacked confidence and decision-making abilities in the central role, but the change in formation didn’t put the best players on the pitch in positions they need to be for the Hornets to be successful.
Next up, the upstart Sheffield United, 12th in the league table, coming off a tough 1-0 loss to league leaders, Liverpool.
There should be NO Watford players in your starting FPL squad. While Danny Welbeck got the start, until we see the Hornets show something offensively, I wouldn’t even consider him on a watch list. Not sure how Watford is making Gerard Deulofeu look as bad as he is, but they are. Not sure he lasts the season in yellow and black.