It’s been a rough run since gameweek 11 and a difficult 1-0 loss at St. James’ Park, a game in which like many prior to it, the Hornets outplayed the opposition, but finished on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Draws against Southampton, a week later coupled with a 2-2 result against Everton has seen the Golden Boys pick up just two points over their last six games. On a positive note, they continue to shine on the pitch, played a positive brand of football against testing teams like Liverpool and Man City.
Reveiew: Leicester City 2 Watford 0
Outplayed by Leicester City and down by a goal after just 12 minutes in, when Jamie Vardy was taken down in the penalty box by Ben Foster. Vardy converted and it was destined to be a long day for the Hornets, who couldn’t recover after conceding early. Just 11 minutes later it would be a fantastic individual effort from James Maddison, picking a pass out of the air from Marc Albrighton, volleying home the second goal. It was another game of missed opportunities for Watford as they had no shots on target…again! Final score 2-0.
In the game, Etienne Capoue was wrongly red carded on a late challenge, that repel was upheld and Capoue misses the next three games. Javi Gracia said, “Today I think it was different. We dominated the possession, I think we had 62 per cent, but it wasn’t enough to finish the action. We created chances but we didn’t shoot on target.”
Review: Watford 1 Man City 2
The Sky Blue made a visit last week and in all honesty I thought the Hornets would give up 3-4 goals, but they played very well. Ben Foster put on another excellent display of goalkeeping skills to limit the damage that could have been done. It was a bittersweet loss, wanting to see a clean sheet double from City, but then a late Abdoulaye Doucoure goal have the Hornets a lifeline in the waning minutes of the game. Overall, it was another well played game by Watford, who pressed and attacked City, which limited their scoring potential.
Review: Everton 2 Watford 2
I don’t want to sound like a whining or complaining Watford supporter, but we have been on the wrong side or some controversial decisions this season that haven’t not worked to our benefit. That was the case with the first goal, when Richarlison received the ball from a clearly, offside Theo Walcott. The linesman was spot on the back line of the Watford defenders, how he missed it, is anyone’s guess.
It’s getting to the point, that Javi Gracia said, “It is offside and it is the same as in other games where we are living these situations in the last games. We accept it and I prefer not to say anything about the referee’s decision, but it was offside, I have to tell you that. It is difficult to accept every day the same situation but what can we do is keep working, keep playing, try to improve the things we can. We will be demanding in the things that are under our control and the rest of the things I am not interested in.”
With Richarlison netting against his former team, Watford looked to regroup and continued to play strong through the middle. With Etienne Capoue serving a 3-game suspension for a straight red, Domingos Quina made his debut and held his own against Everton in the middle of the pitch, quick to jump into the attack, but not afraid to fall back and help defend.
After some missed opportunities by Roberto Pereyra, Watford continued to look dangerous on the attack, but were unable to finish. This has been a common theme since the Newcastle loss. Pereyra looked more like his former, early season self and was quite active on both flanks. Deeney, set the pace for the Hornets, as he usually does as the captain. Big and strong, he was able to hold up play and could have had a few goals, if his shots were on target.
It will be said Watford lucked into their first goal with a shot by Pereyra from the right flank that careened off the goal post, hitting Seamus Coleman and into the goal. Two minutes later on the ensuing attack, it was Pereyra creating again, as Doucoure rose above the Everton defense, making a statement with a big downward header that found the back of the net to give Watford a 2-1 lead on 65 minutes.
Everton had a chance to equalize when Christian Kabasele came through 1.95m, 93k, Yerry Mina, who crumbled to the ground in the penalty box, as Lee Mason pointed to the spot. Sigurdsson stepped up for the kick, opting for power over placement, sending the ball down the middle. Foster drove to the right, but was able to kick save the ball, retaining the 2-1 Watford lead.
Unjustly, there was six minutes added as the 90′ mark rolled around. Unheard of, Watford had not wasted that much time, but were forced to hold the lead. It was an unintentional hand ball, as Kabasele challenged for a ball with Mina. Mason again, awarded a free kick to Everton. Lucas Digne and Sigurdsson lined up, as Foster set his wall. Had Doucoure jumped straight up, instead of jumping and turning away from the ball, the game could have ended differently. As it was, the ball sliced through the wall, curling into the top right corner, as Digne and the Toffees celebrated a 90th minute goal to draw level.
As of now, it’s still difficult to consider any offensive assets for Watford in a starting role. If you are bulking up in the midfield, Issac Success (£4.6) is still excellent value! He continues to get excellent time on the pitch, but hasn’t returned since GW10. The potential is there and I have no doubt he will bag a few goals moving foward, when Watford return attacking points. Highly involved up front.
By all indications, Roberto Pereyra (£6.2), on 72 points looks like a great midfielder, but a breakdown of his statistics tells a completely different story. The two assists against Everton were his first since GW10 and Watford’s 3-0 win against Huddersfield. If he plays as he did on Monday, he could warrant another look at his price, but his consistency, especially on the road has been suspect since putting on a Watford shirt.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.9) might give fantasy managers another cut rate option in the midfield. Doucoure has returned goals in the last two games, now with four assists on the season. Like the previous attacking players I have spoke about, this is his first return since the Huddersfield match. Watford do hit a favorable run until GW23, so if he continues to play well, I can see last year’s player of the year for Watford going on a small run.
Defensively, I can’t back any defenders. I continually get asked about Jose Holebas (£4.8) but he just isn’t returning like we saw early in the year when he was mentioned with the likes of Matt Doherty. There are a few cheaper options at £4.2 that could be considered, if you are looking for a fifth; Kiko Femenia, however his time could be limited with Daryl Janmaat returning to fitness. Adrian Mariappa (£4.2) is priced right, but he’s a journeyman, filling in when needed, but not a regular starter.
Ben Foster (£4.5) I do back in goal. He continues to shine as my player of the year for Watford. Take nothing away from what Heurelho Gomes did last year, but Foster has been excellent on the season. While his statistics are impressive when compared to other £4.5 options, he’s playing like a confident keeper. We need to see a bit more output from the defenders in front of him, who’ve let him down in recent games. With a good run forthcoming, Foster could be a great differential!
Preview: Watford v Cardiff
Coming off a bit of a late letdown on Monday, Watford return to Vicarage Road to host Cardiff City. Currently on 14 points, the Bluebirds sit 14th, 7 points off Watford (21 points) in 12th. This should be a game in which the Hornets break their winless streak with a breakout game. Cardiff haven’t very impressive, especially away from home.
Watford will need to attack, as they did on Monday against Everton and as the pressed City last week. If that Watford team shows up, Cardiff is in for a long day. Roberto Pereyra’s play will continue to be key, while he provided two assists, his shooting has improved hitting the woodwork over the last few weeks. The Hornets have been strong moving into the attacking third, but haven’t converted opportunities into shots on target.
Javi Gracia now has Domingo Quinos to consider in the midfield. Capoue is out suspended until December 22, which could put Quinos in line for another start alongside Doucoure. Up front, Troy Deeney and Issac Success started at Everton, while Gerard Deulofeu was brought in on 60′ for Ken Sema on the right flank. Will Hughes still ailing with the hip might mean Deulofeu starts on the right flank to provide balls into the forward line. As we have seen in previous games, both Deulofeu and Pereyra love cutting inside to attack the goal.
Defensively, I see Foster keeping a clean sheet this week. Janmaat could return to the right wing back position. In the middle Kabasele was the weak link this past week giving away a few key penalties that cost Watford. Still, he’s played good on the season, partnering with Craig Cathcart.
Prediction – Watford 2 Cardiff 0