Watford’s unbeaten run under Nigel Pearson came to an end as they lost at the hands of relegation rivals Aston Villa with the very last kick of the game. It was a throwback performance to the start of the season where the Hornets were lacklustre and invited a poor quality opposition to take advantage. Here’s how the players got on individually.
Ben Foster – 6/10
Largely untested, Foster was not the most popular man inside Villa Park with his constant time wasting which became a bit embarrassing when the Hornets main focus should’ve been to extend their lead. It was that intent that was ultimately their downfall. The former Birmingham stopper parried Targett’s shot away to fall kindly to Douglas Luiz but there was little of note to comment on, his kicking was off on a couple of occasions and his handling was firm with a few weak goal bound efforts but nothing of note to pick up on with regards to Foster.
Adrian Mariappa – 5.5/10
Mariappa has been great at full back in recent weeks and he certainly was not a disaster at Villa Park but it’s easy to pick at him when this type of result occurs. He is never going to offer a great deal going forwards which was very much the case. This shouldn’t necessarily be used against him provided he fulfils his defensive duties which he did a decent job in handling Villa’s only real threat in Jack Grealish. His right hand side did look vulnerable in spells in the match where Grealish worked the openings down the left hand side for Villa and Mariappa was largely safe in possession but with a few careless mistakes.
Craig Dawson – 6.5/10
A lot of fairly routine work for Dawson with a lack of quality coming into the Watford box as he and his defensive partner cleared throughout with ease. Dawson did a good job aerially and got in front of his man to pinch the ball on a few occasions. I was also impressed with his distribution at times which was pin point as he switched the play. He did get horribly caught out of position in one moment in the first half where Villa played a through ball between him and Mariappa but a good night from Dawson in my view.
Craig Cathcart – 6/10
A routine Craig Cathcart performance as of the last month or so. He quietly went about his business throughout making sensible decisions and clearing constantly with ease. Perhaps not as convincing as Dawson in possession and was off in the challenge when under pressure as he could’ve given away a penalty on Mings before Aston Villa found the winner.
Adam Masina – 6.5/10
A very assured first half from the Italian who continued his fine form in composed fashion cutting inside of his man and retaining possession when under pressure. Notably he was dominant in the air and disposed of any aerial threat that entered his area. It’s hard to remember him overlapping his winger throughout the match in what was a stale affair as players struggled to impact the game with moments of quality. A solid performance with and without the ball.
Etienne Capoue – 7.5/10
At this stage Watford fans will know Capoue makes the game look easy at times and his passing range was on full display in spells at Villa Park. Most notably when he cut across the ball on the volley to switch the play half the length of the pitch to find Pereyra. For me he did his job well and the frustration lied around him with a lack of forward thinking choices to pick out. He won the ball back several times in the second half when the players were heaping the pressure on themselves. The game was summed up when he won the ball, carried it with a lack of options in sight and tried his signature scoop turn to lose it and put his team back under pressure. There were a few sloppy touches where he gave the ball away but overall his quality was on show.
Nathaniel Chalobah – 6.5/10
Not for the first time this season the Watford performance seemed to deteriorate when the defensive midfielder came off as a substitute which is the most telling thing you could say about his performance in that it was effective. Defensively he excelled, his intensity to his pressing was impressive and this resulted in winning the ball back in good areas. The former Chelsea man was relatively assured in possession and kept it ticking well enough particularly in the first half without really adding a great deal of quality. The gaps did start to appear and the control of the game became lacking when he came off.
Roberto Pereyra – 4/10
A complete waste of space, you can always forgive a player with flair and quality with an off night but the body language was appalling and if this was an audition to replace the injured Ismalia Sarr then at least we’ve learned something from the match. What you’d have to acknowledge is that Pereyra on the right is a square peg in a round hole and his smart 1-2 in the second half when he moved to the left was an illustration of what he’s capable of. That being said he hardly helped out his full back defensively and contributed very little throughout. He should look across to his teammate Deulofeu as his guide at the moment for how to work hard for the team when really the last thing they want to do is be running towards their own goal. But it’s the type of reason why we had such problems at the start of the season and a big reason why we let things slip yesterday.
Gerard Deulofeu – 5/10
The Spaniard in a nutshell. You’d notice a hell of a difference if he was out of the side and not in a good way, he makes things happen and we’re a better side for having his threat there. But he is the type of player that will be judged on his decision making where it really matters. His first was excellent as he played a 1-2 with Doucoure in the opposition corner to then find Deeney with a fine cross for the opener. Moments later he raced clear in what was a key moment in the match but he was far from ruthless and squirmed a big chance wide when squaring the ball or putting in a better effort would’ve been easier. He then picked up possession late on where he simply had to slide Gray in for a huge chance to win it but he selfishly took it on himself and lost possession. His application can’t be faulted at the moment which is a real success in itself but sadly he was lacking where it hurts in a couple of these big moments.
Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6/10
This position became a bit of a problem for us with Doucoure an unconventional number 10, we could’ve done with some real finesse in between the Villa defence and midfield but that didn’t really come from Doucoure and his use of possession was a bit more pedestrian. He was involved for the opening goal though and was energetic as usual but without any real moments of quality.
Troy Deeney – 6.5/10
A very well taken goal after being virtually anonymous up to that point. Deeney got his goal with a fine header that left Pepe Reina with no chance. While you’re not going to take every chance his close range shot that was superbly denied by Reina was a massive moment in the game for the away side and with a lot of goal to aim for it was a clear cut chance that really could’ve done with being taken. His all round play was a bit patchy. A lot of the time with the side playing too deep it was a challenge giving the ideal service to Troy who had a fair match aerially throughout. Considering Deeney struggles to be prolific from open play in recent seasons I’m quite pleased to see him looking much more of a goal threat by getting in to some decent positions.
Ignacio Pussetto – 6/10
The new signing was thrown into the mix when his teammates were dwindling and it couldn’t have been an easy time to enter the field. He was confident getting on the ball but did lose it a couple of times. Defensively he was exactly what was needed as hassled the opposition very well and won back possession with his introduction. With limited time it’s hard to see what exactly Pussetto will bring as a player but his attitude and application looks a good base to build from at least.
Andre Gray – 4/10
Just the 15 or so minutes from Andre but it was not the right substitution to make when you need someone to take the ball in and play off. With little to work with his big moment was when he had the chance to set Deulofeu through but completely messed up the through ball which sadly demonstrates his lack of technical ability. Unfortunately Deulofeu returned the favour by not passing to him when he made a good run late on and would’ve had a good chance to get the winner but the reason we lost was not down to Gray and singling him out would be very unfair.
Christian Kabasele – N/A
Having come on in stoppage time it would be unreasonable to grade his performance based off one moment but he was brought on to secure the away point and was beaten in the air which led to the winning goal.
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