Heading into this fixture there was mounting concern over the Hornets. After starting the season 4-0-0, they hit a rough patch, picking up a single point over the next four games, sliding down the table to ninth overall. Away at Molineux wasn’t going to be easy, especially with an upstart Wolves club that had taken the Premier League by storm in the early weeks, after some impressive defensive performances by the promoted club against the likes of Man United and Man City.
Watford came out fast and strong, as Javi Gracia made four changes to his starting XI. Troy Deeney didn’t travel with the squad, while Andre Gray started on the bench, replaced by Isaac Success and Gerard Deuloefeu. Both players making their debut as starters this season. Due to yellow card accumulation, Jose Holebas was suspended, as was Christian Kabasele, as he picked up two yellow cards inside of 32’ against Bournemouth in the previous week. Adrian Mariappa, got the captain’s armband and the start, as well as new boy, Adam Masina.
It was a much-needed retooling, if for nothing more to show something different on the pitch. The opening six games, saw Gracia runout an unchanged starting XI, but the 4-0 loss to Bournemouth seemed to be the catalyst to see just how deep this Watford team was. This was the sort of decision we failed to see last season in Marco Silva. It was even more remarkable to see Deulofeu up top, partnering with Success, rather than on the right flank, where Will Hughes continues to play, out of position.
Early on it was all Watford to get the game going in the Wolves end of the pitch, It took just 20’ before the first “miracle” at Molineux occurred. Etienne Capoue took a pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure from 25-yards and banged home a low, line-drive shot that went through Conor Coady’s legs, freezing Rui Patricio, giving the Golden Boys a 1-0 lead. Just 90 seconds later, Watford would double their lead on the kickoff, as Roebrto Pereyra would cut in from the left with a cheeky chip over the shoulder of Patricio, as Watford took a surprise 2-0 into half-time.
The second half was ugly for Wolves, who finished the game on 23 fouls, receiving three yellow cards. Watford played a very good possession game, led by Doucoure and Capoue in the middle, both who could have been named man of the match. They took Ruben Neves out of the game for Wolves, who were unable to create through the middle. Ben Foster and the Watford defense recorded their second clean sheet on the season.
Issac Success (4.5): While I don’t expect Troy Deeney to miss another game, he didn’t travel due to a minor injury. Success off the back of a goal for Nigeria, on international duty played well up top. He held the ball up nicely, using his size and strength. Only had one shot during the game but could see him into the forward rotation with Deeney and Gray. Possibly budget third option.
Gerard Deulofeu (5.4): This was his first start of the season, after a 16’ minute cameo against Burnley. Gracia surprised everyone partnering him with Success up top. It was interesting to watch the dynamics and skill he possesses on the ball, as he was a constant threat, helping to create in the attacking end. He spent much of his time on the left side of the pitch, close to Pereyra, which was interesting. Once fully game fit, he becomes essential for Watford. Watchlist material.
Etienne Capoue (5.0): He’s been Watford’s unsung hero most of the season but hasn’t made a good fantasy option. While he picked up his first goal on the season, he was instrumental in the middle of the pitch with Doucoure. Not much value in him, as he is a workhorse, will put in 90 minutes, but doesn’t have enough on the attacking end to be a viable option at his price.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (5.9): Off the back of a successful campaign last season, he is priced a bit high, especially for a Watford asset. He’s a complete midfielder with the ability to hold up play, drop back defensive, create and score, but only has four assists on the season. Another player who is essential in the Watford starting XI. I continue to keep him on a watchlist.
Roberto Pereyra (6.2): After starting the season with three goals in three games, he went on a scoreless streak. While he continued to play well, nothing was coming off. Can’t get too excited, as this was his first away goal since pulling on a Watford jersey. His price is a bit restrictive as well at 6.2. Need to see more consistency. Watchlist.
Defenders (4.5-4.9): Jose Holebas still carries the most potential of the group, he is coming off suspension, after yellow card accumulation. He missed Wolves, but will get his starting spot back when Huddersfield comes to the Vic.
At 4.2, Kiko Femenia has started the last two games with Daryl Janmaat injury. He will start at right wing back and based on how Gracia continues to set up, Femenia should have a very advanced position into the attacking end, as Hughes has the freedom to drift into the center.
Aside from those two backs, there just isn’t enough to consider the likes of Kabasele or Cathcart in the middle. While they have played excellent on the season, with Cathcart scoring once, they just don’t bring much to the fantasy table. If you want to try your luck, this is a GREAT run for the Hornets with the possibility of three clean sheets (HUD/new/sou).
Ben Foster (4.5): Watford posted their second clean sheet on the season, but Foster was a spectator, being forced into a single save. His fantasy value is still low, as he’s made just 17 saves on the season. Like the defenders, he is an experience, quality goalkeepers and could put together a nice small run. Still with the other 4.5 keepers, making more saves and with a better FDR over a longer period, I still feel Foster doesn’t warrant much consideration.