The wait for a Premier League win at Vicarage Road is finally over. 265 days separated Watford’s last win against Fulham in early April and their 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday. It was pretty much last chance saloon for the Hornets who were in grave danger of falling too far behind despite half the season still to play. Goals from Ismaila Sarr and Troy Deeney keep the Hertfordshire outfit within touch but they’ll know there’s plenty of work to do still. Here are 3 things we learned from a glorious win at Vicarage Road.
1 – A deserved change of fortunes
There was no doubt this match was all about the result for Watford who had endured a miserable set of months on their own turf. Despite wretched form throughout, the club have not had a break all season. They have been apologised to a handful of times by the authorities for some inexcusable decisions that have badly effected their season, apologies that will not change the scenario that they find themselves in. Under four separate head coaches, they’ve specialised in being the nearly men, there have been some decent performances and games where all three points should’ve been taken but they were just lacking that bit of fortune. That all changed on Sunday as this wasn’t the most devastating display from Nigel Pearson’s men but a very determined and hard fought victory.
The hosts were completely gifted the opening goal by David De Gea as he fumbled a tame Sarr effort into his net. Shortly after a daft Aaron Wan-Bissaka challenge gave Deeney the chance from the spot which he made no mistake from. Either side of this while the Hornets put their stamp on the game, Manchester United did have a couple of gilt edged chances most notably when Jesse Lingard went clear on goal only to fire over. Mason Greenwood also failed to lob over Foster with the goal gaping. My point is while you in no way can begrudge this win from the team, it’s a case of this performance not being exceptionally higher in quality than in certain matches prior to this. The difference was some key moments went our way and we finally got that bit of luck we so richly deserved.
2 – Finishing touches
Following on from the last point, Watford will not care less about how the goals were scored. Likewise the second half of the season is a chance to rectify the countless missed chances that the squad have wasted. There were opportunities to put Manchester United out of reach though and the decision making of individuals has been poor throughout the campaign and it showed again despite some encouraging attacking play. Gerard Deulofeu continues to menace defences but he really has to make better use with his decision making because frustratingly you really feel he could be the difference. The realistic point we have to take away from this is that we won’t be gifted goals like this every match and we desperately need key players like Doucoure, Sarr and Deeney to step up where it matters, we can’t ignore the trend of being toothless in the final third and this will have to improve if we are to survive relegation.
3 – Re-born heroes erode January suspicions
Despite injury setbacks still evident in the squad, I have seen enough in recent weeks to remind myself of how capable this squad is. There will undoubtedly be regrets that we might have left it to late for Pearson to turn things around but this is pretty much the exact same squad that were terrific last season. Many have pointed the finger at the recruitment and while that still has to be the case, the management and performance of the players is the ultimate reason for the collapse this term. The re-emergence of Christian Kabasele has been very encouraging, he was fantastic yesterday and Will Hughes is a new man in his deeper central position. I was personally delighted with the performances of Adrian Mariappa and Kiko Femenia though who had United’s danger men to deal with and they responded superbly despite both playing in un-natural positions. Both players would’ve caused fear among the Watford faithful because of what had occurred before them but I think they both rivalled Hughes for receiving the man of the match award in my view.
These examples perhaps demonstrate that work is not as necessary in the January market, which would be very hard to operate in. Ultimately this squad shouldn’t be in this mess and it’s good enough to find form but whether it’s given itself too much to do is another question altogether.
What do you make of these points? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit footballace.org