Watford got off to a flying start to mark their Premier League return despite a late fightback from Aston Villa. Goals from Dennis, Sarr and Cucho Hernandez gave the hosts a three goal lead before McGinn and an Ings penalty reduced the deficit. Here is how I rated the Hornets on the opening day.
Daniel Bachmann - 7/10
The Austrian ‘keeper got off to a convincing start in the Premier League. Whilst both of the visitors shots on target found the net, Bachmann was smart with his aerial ability and sweeping up of any through balls. Proactive with his distribution even if his kicking was a little wayward on occasions.
Craig Cathcart - 5/10
You have to feel for Cathcart, being played out of position in this division would’ve been a huge surprise to fans before a ball was kicked. You do get a very sensible head on shoulders and it was a typically no thrills first half at right back ultimately doing a nice job for the team. Unsurprisingly his game suffered when Leon Bailey came on to run at him and he wasn’t helped out a great deal by his teammates. It was a nerve-wracking experience every time Villa switched the ball to their left hand side at this stage. A few careless clearances and touches but easy to forget a solid first 45.
Christian Kabasele - 7.5/10
Physically too much for the visitors forward line, his highlight was snuffing out Ings in the first half as he was ready to fire the trigger, an example of his speed and strength. His concentration which has always been susceptible was on the money today. Brave and composed, the Belgium defender took ownership of his decisions and did so with no real errors which is great to see.
William Troost-Ekong - 7.5/10
The leader at the back and he led by example nicely. We saw in the Championship that his distribution from the back fell apart in games but this game it was secure and well calculated. Will be disappointed that his team conceded twice as he and his partner were the victors of their duels despite Ings being on the scoresheet.
Adam Masina - 6.5/10
A huge shame his silly challenge at the end gave the visitors a late penalty and therefore his side a late scare. I was a bit worried about Masina going into this season but the side’s intentions to go forward at a quicker and more direct pace probably suited him and he was often a good outlet where he seemed confident in his own ability. This was a competent all round performance where before his late mistake he stuck to his task and cleared his lines well. Didn’t over complicate matters and came in with some important aerial clearances.
Peter Etebo - 8/10
Delighted with this performance, Will Hughes who? The Nigerian had a lovely first half, he was the heartbeat of Watford’s forward thinking tempo and used the ball smartly and with purpose. Equally he was adapt at winning the ball back, pinching it on multiple occasions and getting in the face of his opposition. A quieter second 45, some of Etobo’s ball carrying was vital for lifting the pressure off the Watford defence. Lots of ability and a joy to watch on his debut.
Juraj Kucka - 9/10
Monstrous. Everywhere. The midfielder has certainly shown he is a committed player, no less when he thundered into a challenge in the first half and picked up a yellow card. It didn’t stop him in his stride, he still never let a claret shirt breathe with his defensive efficiency the highlight but plenty to cheer about on the ball making some bright decisions notably a fine one-two in the first half where his shot went high of the goal. Beat players for fun before playing his part in the third goal which demonstrated he did a bit of everything on a fine debut for the club.
Tom Cleverley - 8/10
Cleverley deserved a start off the back of all of his hard work last season. Despite this I was worried he might get found out at a higher level, he didn’t today anyway. The highest pressing midfielder is Cleverley’s best position, his know how is so valuable to a side when making life uncomfortable for the visitors on the ball. His pressing was fantastic and constant which provided the initiative to Xisco’s side throughout the match. He took up some good positions on the pitch which really gave him the edge on the ball as he used it well.
Ismaila Sarr - 9/10
Spare a thought for Matt Targett who must have been delighted to be subbed off at half time. Sarr ran rings around him at will and they simply couldn’t handle him. Another incisive break away led to a fortunate deflection but Sarr’s first goal of the season, well deserved. Heavily involved with everything good in an attacking sense, he played his part in the first two goals.
Emmanuel Dennis - 9/10
A goal and an assist, you couldn’t want more on your debut. I thought the clubs new strikers movement was exactly what the side need and it caused all sorts of problems for Aston Villa. It’s no surprise chances came his way, a couple he snatched it but he fired home for the all important first goal at the second time of asking. Some of his flicks to put his teammates on the front foot were irresistible. Took a knock before having to go off, a couple of inexperienced decisions but a performance of flair, confidence and excellence.
Ken Sema - 6.5/10
A real team player, completely demonstrated when put in a promising position but passed to Dennis when he perhaps should’ve gone for glory in the second half. No standout moment but a threat and a reliable cog in a fine team performance both defensively and offensively.
Cucho - 8/10
Gosling - 6/10
Deeney - 6/10
Watford fans, would you make any changes? Let us know in the comments below!