Review: Watford vs Huddersfield
Coming off a tough 2-2 draw, Monday at Goodison Park against Everton, in a last second free kick from Lucas Digne, Watford had a chance to set their destiny on Saturday. Do they come out flat, which was a possibility or do they accept the late heroics and get on with the positive brand of football they have been playing all season? This week, Neil Warnock and the Bluebirds visited Vicarage Road.
While the final score makes this game look close, it was Watford that controlled the ball (71.5%) and dictated the tempo of the game. Building on their control, Watford fired eight shots on target, the most since they lost 2-0 to Leicester City. Positive signs from an attack that has struggled offensively, in front of the goal.
It took just 16′ before Watford bagged their first goal, an excellent individual effort from Gerard Deulofeu. He cut through the heart of the Cardiff defense with some great footwork and slotted the ball past Neil Etheridge to put the Hornets on top, 1-0.
“I’m really happy to score and to help my team. I have to continue like this, scoring, but the team was really good. You will see here in the Premier League you have to continue for 90 minutes. The most important thing is the three points because it had been a long period without that,” said Deulofeu after the game.
Since returning from injury Deulofeu has looked the most dangerous attacking asset on the pitch. From gameweek 9 through Saturday, Deulofeu has 42 penalty touches, two goals with 16 goal attempts with 13 inside the box. While his minutes are still lacking, averaging just 55.6, finishing 90 minutes just once. Some thinking has Javi Gracia still working him back into full match fitness. However, now 10 weeks since returning to the starting XI, it could be more strategy based.
Out of the break, Jose Holebas picked up his third goal of the season, on a nice ball laid off from Deulofeu. Holebas curled it to the top right corner, as Etheridge just got a touch, as Watford extended their lead, 2-0. Holebas has run streaky all season, as he hasn’t collected an assists since gameweek 4, with his last goal coming in gameweek 12.
Youngster, Domingos Quina, getting his second start in as many weeks, for the suspended Etienne Capoue scored his first Premier League goal to increase the Hornets lead to 3-0, as Watford was rolling on 68 minutes. Quina, signed earlier this year from West Ham has been one many supporters have been keeping any eye on. It was his second goal on the season, as he picked his first goal in an EFL Cup match, rocketing a 30-yard attempt at Reading. “I don’t get in the box that often so if I want to score I have to try from outside the box. Luckily today it went in. I’m very happy with the goal and happy that I could help my team,” said Quina after the game.
The wheels came off the Watford bus on the stroke of 80 minutes, as Bobby Reid was introduced. Junior Holiett had showed great individual effort down the left flank, producing the goal of the game. Another curling shot past the diving Ben Foster to the top left corner and Cardiff had been thrown a life line.
It was two minutes late that Reid got involved, inside the Watford 6-yard box. A bounding ball, confusion in the defense, produced a back heel by Reid that rebounded back to him, as he toe poked the ball past Foster to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The final throws of the game had Watford on the heel, as they struggled to gain possession and see out the game. Momentum had shifted as the Bluebirds were looking the best they had all game, while Watford looked a shade of themselves from the previous 80 minutes. As the whistle blew on a cold and windy night, in a torrential downpour, Watford picked up their first win since October 27 and a 3-0 over Huddersfield.
I continue to stand by my previous position, there are not many assets to draft into your squad from Watford. Earlier in the season I picked up Will Hughes, now out indefinitely with an injury, I continue to watch Gerard Deulofeu. I’ve been saying it since he returned his first goal of the season against Huddersfield, he is the most dynamic on the pitch for the Hornets. At £5.4, he could make a viable fourth midfielder, as he’e been one of the best since returning to fitness in game week 8 (at £5.5 or less). Watford have a nice run of fixtures, facing Chelsea (H) in gameweek 19 and Spurs (A) in gameweek 24.
While Issac Success (£4.5) has lost some of his luster as a viable asset, he continues to get playing time. Started on the bench in gameweek 17, but the injury to Andre Gray should see him platooning with Troy Deeney in the front line. Deeney (£5.8) put in an excellent shift and was unlucky not to score for the second week. On the pitch he’s dominating, holding up and play and providing a spark in the attack. His price, is just a bit high for the points he returns. Given the choice, I take Success over Deeney for this next run of fixtures.
It’s a curious case for Roberto Pereyra (£6.2) on 74 points for the season. His recent play has been spectacular, but attacking returns have been very inconsistent. He picked up two assists last Monday against Everton, continuing to get into viable shooting positions, as witnessed by his 15 goal attempts and 11 from inside the box in the last six game weeks, but has come up with nothing to show. Priced £0.1 less than Ryan Fraser (£6.3 / 90 points) makes the decision easy to go with the Bournemouth man.
Abdoulaye Doucoure is quietly having another MVP season for the Hornets, as he picked up his third attacking return in as many weeks. Now with five assists on the season, the attacking midfielder is priced at £5.9 with 66 points. While he might be put on many watchlists, I can’t see drafting him into a starting line up at this point. The price is right, but can you rely on his as a fourth starting midfielder? I don’t think you can, which makes his price too high for a fifth midfielder.
Defensively, I am disappointed with our back line. While I had high hopes for attacking returns from Kiko Femenia (£4.3) he hasn’t impressed me, like he did last season. Holebas on the left flank, has a penchant for yellow cards, but hasn’t shown consistency at £4.7 to warrant inclusion in any fantasy team. That leaves Ben Foster (£4.5) as the sole option if you want to buy in on a shaky Watford defense. I’ve been a huge supporter of Foster all season, as he’s been our best signing during the summer. He’s a real leader in the back and recently has been putting in some excellent games, but not receiving the accolades for his work. Still, there are quite a few other £4.5 options ahead of Foster at this point.
Preview: West Ham vs Watford
Picking up 4 points in the last two games has been a welcomed relief for the Hornets, who appear to have slowed their festive slide. The schedule looks good for Watford as they travel to the London Stadium to take on a West Ham team that has won four games in row, as they and Watford now sit on 24 points for the season in 9th and 10th place respectively, separated only by goal difference.
While West Ham hasn’t been overly impressive on defense this season, they have secured two clean sheets over the last four games. Lukasz Fabianski leads the defense, second in the league in saves with 66, as their defense is fourth worst, giving up 88 shots on target. While Watford hasn’t been overly impressive offensively, it could work to their advantage this week with players like Deulofeu and Pereyra getting inside the box. However they have just nine goals away from the Vic this season, which is a cause for concern.
Over the last two seasons, Watford has a slight advantage picking up an extra win, but last February, it was the Hammers with a 2-0 victory at the London Stadium. On paper it looks to be a very close match but the Hammers will be without their big man in the middle, Marko Arnautovic, which will benefit the Hornets, as he scored in their last match up.
The Hammers have looked good without Arnautovic leading the attack. Lucas Perez came in and picked up a brace, but recently it’s been Javier Hernandez doing the damage with three goals and two assists in the last four games. Robert Snodgrass continues to look excellent in a very strong midfield, as he’s posted four attacking returns in as many weeks (2g/3a). Felipe Anderson has two goals and two assists in the last four weeks as well. By all appearance, the Hammers are pounding out wins, with 11 goals (top in the league) over the last four games.
It’s a game in which I see goals with very little defense. While there are quality players at the back for both squads, I feel it will be a shoot out in London, 3-2, as I back the Hammers to get it done and remain in winning form.