Tuesday’s Carabao woe saw former Greek international Jose Holebas pick up his first suspension of the season. With The Hornets trailing 2-1 to Bristol City and Holebas’ cynical challenge preventing a Bristol break away, he was given his marching orders. The game finished 3-2 to Bristol City, seeing Watford once again crash out of the League Cup. In my opinion, Watford’s number 25 made the right decision in taking one for the team. It’s not his fault that the squad currently only features 1 senior left back.
Whilst I’m a big fan of Holebas, a betting man would put a bet on him racking up more suspensions over the 2017/18 campaign. Last season saw him pick up 14 bookings, one shy of a Premier League record. With this in mind, lets take a look at who may come in to replace him when Brighton visit Vicarage Road on the 26th of August and beyond.
Option 1: Miguel Britos
In my opinion, the most likely candidate to come in to fill the hole left by Holebas will be Britos. The Uruguayan, who usually applies his trade at centre back, has featured over 50 times since his 2015 summer move from Napoli. A handful of his appearances have come at left back, on the basis of him being left footed. Britos is a pretty consistent performer, which deserves credit in The Premier League. However, he doesn’t look particularly comfortable when deployed as a full back.
Furthermore, pulling Britos across to left back would disturb his central defensive partnership with Sebastian Prodl. A partnership which looked very comfortable during last weekend’s 2-0 triumph on the South Coast.
Option 2: Brandon Mason
My pick of the bunch. Watford’s 19 year old is an out-and-out left back, something which cannot be said for any other player on this list. In his 4 senior appearances, Mason has displayed good pace, crossing ability and a willingness to get stuck into a tackle. However, Mason does only have 4 senior appearances. Of these 4 appearances, only 2 have come in the Premier League. The first was a cameo off the bench when The Horns trailed Spurs 4 goals to nil, with the game finishing 4-1 after a Kaboul consolation. The second saw him start on the final day of the season, with Watford slumping 5-0 to Manchester City.
I believe that Mason has the potential to be a solid Premier League full back if given enough game time. This is why I think he should make the starting XI against Brighton.
Option 3: Adrian Mariappa
Mariappa is a defensive jack-of-all trades. He is experienced at both centre back and right back but is largely untested at left back. Silva may ask the Jamaican international to fill in as he has the most Premier League experience on this list. Last season saw Mariappa filling in when Walter Mazzarri’s squad was ravished by injury. Despite the general slump of the team, Mariappa’s performances remained assured. For this reason, we may see Mariappa make his 256th Watford appearance this weekend.
Option 4: Brice Dja Djedje
Who? Very much the forgotten man at Vicarage Road and this may prove to be his last opportunity to show what he’s worth. It’s hard to imagine that the Ivorian will make the 25 man squad if he doesn’t make the cut against Brighton. Arguments in favour of the former Marseillie man are that he has experience playing on the left of a back 4 and has 156 appearances at a respectable level during his 6 years in France. Djedje is definitely a dark horse.
Option 5: Kiko Femenia
Its fair to say that fans were not impressed by Femenia’s first 72 minutes of Premier League football. He replaced Daryl Janmaat in the 18th minute due to the Dutchman’s injury and looked out of his depth. However his performance 7 days later against Bournemouth was much improved; http://alloutfootball.co.uk/watfordfc-afcb-ratings/. Stats later revealed that Watford’s man was the fastest man in the Premier League in that round of fixtures, reaching speeds of 21.8 MPH. He also managed 6 interceptions.
However, I believe that it is too soon to deploy Femenia out of position. One good performance doesn’t mean that he has fully adapted to the league. Furthermore, pulling Femenia over to the left would mean a gap at right back.
To conclude, Holebas’ suspensions has highlighted the need for the signing of a left back. Rumours linking the club with Kieron Gibbs have once again surfaced and this could be an option for the club with the window set to shut fairly shortly.
Who would you play at left back Watford fans? Let us know in the comments below!