What a season it’s been so far for Watford FC. The players and fans have been brought together emotionally by the remarkable work of Marco Silva; individual and collective performances have caught the eye of journalists and fellow clubs alike; and the club is looking to be in contention for Europa League qualification come May. The Hornets have already shown their “cojones” on numerous occasions this season, by demonstrating their lack of fear when facing big teams, and with several late goals adding up to amass an impressive points tally. So, if all of this is true, then why is Sunday’s trip to Everton Marco Silva’s biggest test yet as Watford’s manager?
The answer is fairly straightforward — Watford fans do not want to see their team lose three games on the trot. Dare I say it, last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Stoke was reminiscent of the football Walter Mazzarri wanted to play with this Watford side. Creativity was scarce, players were static, the ball was passed around too slowly, there was a lack of discipline — to cut a long story short, the loss to Stoke will be buried and forgotten as long as we see a reaction against Everton.
One thing that really stood out to me on Saturday was how much Watford struggle against teams that are happy to sit back and defend for the majority of the game. As much as I loathe Stoke and their negative style of football, they are experts when it comes to the art of defending and are an incredibly organised outfit. The Hornets were unable to break them down all game long, creating a frustrated atmosphere at Vicarage Road. There are some teams, like Manchester City and Arsenal, that relish the opportunity of playing against a team that sits deep, however Watford are much more comfortable in an open and expansive game where both teams are going at each other relentlessly.
There almost appears to be an element of confusion when we come up against a more defensive side — the player in possession of the ball is unable to play an effective pass because his teammates aren’t making useful runs. The game was begging for a Roberto Pereyra or Mauro Zaraté, the former of which was sidelined through injury and the latter inexplicably loaned out to Al-Nasr of Dubai. They both have the creative spark that is lacking in the rest of the Watford squad, and the result on Saturday would have been different had either of the two been involved. A cutting edge was missing — I think 70% possession, 15 shots and zero on target tells you that much.
Another area for concern for the Golden Boys currently is defending from set pieces. The absence of Sebastian Prödl and Younes Kaboul has significantly reduced the average height of the matchday squad, however Watford aren’t being hurt by players inside the box at the moment — Marco Silva’s structured zonal marking leaves a player free on the edge of the penalty area, something which both Chelsea and Stoke have now exploited in successive games. The Watford faithful desperately want to see the zonal marking scrapped for the more traditional man-to-man method, as a third of the goals the Hornets have conceded have come from set pieces.
Theoretically, a point would be a good result for Watford. It’s a trip to Goodison Park which traditionally is one of the tougher grounds to travel to in the Premier League. However, if Lyon can put three goals past what appears to be a sluggish and lacklustre Everton back line, the travelling support will be expecting The Hornets to play with the same dynamism and energy that have graced the majority of Watford’s games so far.
I personally don’t think that the root of our problems from the Stoke game lies with Marco Silva — the selection seemed to be spot on, and it was evident that we were trying to play the way we have been of late but were unable to break down a solid and resilient Stoke side. The trip to Everton is Silva’s biggest test yet as Watford manager because he has to formulate a Plan B — how do we set up against a team that is more organised than flamboyant? I hope to find out on Sunday.
Do you agree with these views Watford fans? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Watford FC