It’s been 11 weeks of frustration and disappointment as a Watford supporter, from the dismissal of Javi Gracia and rehiring of Quique Sanchez Flores. From the poor start to the season, dropping our first three games to the embarrassing 8-0 thumping by Manchester City, adding what could be an exclamation mark after our 6-0 loss in the 2019 FA Cup Final. Maybe this run of success was bound to come to an end in the Premier League. I’ve criticized the Pozzo family in the past, as well as Scott Duxbury but ahead of the 2019/20 season, it appeared personnel issues were addressed, and the Golden Boys were stronger heading into the season.
Now November 4th, Watford have scored just five points from a possible 33 on the season, a difference of -14 points from last season, after posting an impressive 4-0-0 start. There are very few takeaways to this point, no wins, just six goals scored and 23 conceded with a league worst -17 goal differential. Add to this, the injury list that continues to grow with a combined six midfielders and forwards out. This week, Craig Cathcart joined the physio’s list with a lower back injury.
Just one game to go before the Premier League teams head into the third international break and I can’t find any reason to be positive when I review the Golden Boys. Coming into Saturday, Chelsea had posted a nice, four game win streak, as Frank Lampard has done an impressive job with his young squad to see them 4th in the league table upon arrival at Vicarage Road. In the past, this game tended to be one sided, in favor of Chelsea, with a lone 4-1 victory for Watford in 2018. Frustration turned to disappointment just five minutes into the game, as Craig Dawson fell asleep as Tammy Abraham took a well targeted pass with a cheekily lobbed it over Ben Foster to give the Blues an early lead and set the tone of the game.
It was another game in which the opposition dominated possession, which continues to be a negative Sanchez Flores trait, as Chelsea had their way with 67% of the possession firing 16 shots (10 on target). The decision making of Sanchez Flores has come under fire by supporters, as they chanted, “you don’t know what you’re doing” after Daryl Janmaat was replaced by Kiko Femenia instead of looking to add another attacker, such as Issac Success, who was deemed fit for the match.”
“In this situation you need to manage a lot of things. It’s not just about the result. For me it’s to care about the players, to care about the fans, we have to live with these kind of things. But it’s not easy to manage with everything….We are able to see all these kind of things in every single match. Even today, saying that Chelsea was better than us, we had the last chance to take one point. We need to take these things if we want to build something.”
“We had a chance to take a point.” That alone tells me QSF continues to play for draws. Why not dream big? Sure a win was unlikely, but show some confidence in your squad, their abilities and your management. It’s now four goals in seven games, a league worst since Sanchez Flores has taken over. This to go along with 15 goals conceded, granted eight of them in one game against Manchester City. Possession has dropped from 52.5% under Gracia to 40.8% since we’ve seen the new regime return. None of these numbers are acceptable and at the rate we are going.
Chelsea extended their lead 10 minutes out of the break, as Abraham shot a beautiful cross that was picked up by Christian Pulisic and slotted home, as Chelsea went up 2-0. Call me fair weathered, but that was the game However, Watford got a bit of help from VAR, after Gerard Deulofeu went down in the box with Jorginho the nearest player. It was a no call from Anthony Taylor on the put, but the call was reversed by the VAR official, Mike Dean. Correct? Not in the least, but the penalty stood and Deulofeu converted from the spot.
Kepa Arrizabalaga made one save in the game, on the last kick of the ball, as Watford sent Foster forward. Deulofeu delivered the free kick, as it was flicked on by Abdoulaye Doucoure and a diving Foster directed the ball on target, as Kepa in a full dive to his left pushed the ball aside to save the game for Chelsea. Sadly, one of our best chances on the day and it comes from our goalkeeper.
In my opinion, I still don’t see any viable options, but I say that with one thought on my mind. FPL_Partridge posted on Twitter, “Some people will say that buying Janmaat & Lacazette isn’t in the rule book.” Not including the Chelsea game, Janmaat had scored 27 points in his last three games, three clean sheets and an assist. He is quite an important part of the attack down the right flank, from his wing back position. With the Chelsea game out of the way, Watford players nor/BUR/sou in their next three games. One would think Watford SHOULD be able to secure a goal or two with two teams who’ve conceded more goals than Watford, Norwich City and Southampton.
I still see NOTHING in the offense that leads me to believe any of the midfielder or forwards are viable options. While a bit price restrictive at 4.8, Ben Foster is the only other player I would consider. He saved Watford from an embarrassing score against Chelsea that could have easily been four or five goals.