Watford responded to defeat before the international break with a 1-0 victory at Pride Park on Friday night. A game of minimal quality or excitement was brought to life by Hornets starlet Joao Pedro as his sizzling strike in the 76th minute separated the two teams. This is how I assessed Ivic’s men on the night.
Ben Foster – 6/10
Virtually anonymous in the game is testament to those in front of him. He just had to hold on to one shot which went straight down his throat in the second half. His kicking didn’t put his side in any danger but was wayward on occasions. His handling was clean but routine on another quiet outing for the goalkeeper.
Jeremy Ngakia – 6/10
The wing-back wasn’t his rampant self and had a very hit and miss performance. He contributed to a very lacklustre match, being guilty of giving the ball away on quite a few occasions. That being said his positivity always livens Watford’s right flank up, showing some nice touches to drive at the opposition however tactically he was found too deep to really give the desired impact. Defensively sound overall and composed throughout.
Christian Kabasele – 7.5/10
Moved to the right of the three centre halves for this game, I was worried before kick off as this involves wising up to situations and using your brain a bit more, a concern when it comes to Kabasele. He produced a fine performance on the whole with some crucial interventions. He relieved an under pressure Foster from a corner with an important header to clear with a crowded box in the first half and despite being out of position he recovered superbly to help make life hard for Rooney who burst 1 v 1 in the second half after the Hornets lead. His pace continues to bail his team out but he got the job done and that’s all that matters.
William Troost-Ekong – 7/10
His Watford debut started with a couple of wild hacks at the ball but the Nigerian International added a composed and sensible display. I like how he didn’t feel the need to win the ball time every time it entered his zone where as Kabasele has been guilty of being rash in this department previously. He was covered by his teammate when very much out of position on one occasion in the second half but was largely unfazed and will be delighted with a clean sheet on his first appearance for the club.
Ben Wilmot – 7/10
A pleasing night for the 20 year old as he was never involved in any bother and played an important part in the winning goal as he drove with the ball before playing it to Pedro as he went beyond the Brazillian. This sums the former Stevenage man up, he is very positive trying to play from the back and whilst it is tough for him distributing as a right footed defender there is a lot to like about his composure on and off the ball. He still has work to do with his positioning at times as he was found wanting when Rooney was played through but a quietly effective performance.
Kiko Femenia – 7.5/10
One of the better players on the pitch, this was an assured performance throughout the 90 minutes for the Spaniard who looked accomplished in possession more than anyone else in the Hornets line up. He took care of the ball linking up with a yellow shirt more often than not and posed a threat going forwards as he burst past his opponent in the first half in a game of little penetration. A couple of lapses in concentration were not to be clouded by a secure performance which will re-assure fans he can deliver in this position.
Nathaniel Chalobah – 5/10
With Capoue and Hughes nearing their return, this was sadly a failed audition for the central midfielder. He gave the ball away far too many times and still doesn’t look like he can take control of the midfield. He was unfortunate however not to score in the second half as his goal bound shot was blocked by the hand of a Derby player.
Tom Cleverley – 6.5/10
Another captain’s performance. Whilst the game was in need of a spark Cleverley took on the responsibility of trying to make things happen. His cross field passes in the first half were as good as anything at trying to free up opportunities for the Hornets in the opening 45. Unfortunately he also made a glaring error in the same period as he carelessly gave the ball away in the visitors own half which gave Derby a presentable attacking opportunity. He was everywhere in the second half again though and his defensive intensity is superb. Can certainly improve in possession but deserving of the armband.
Domingos Quina – 5/10
A missed opportunity and a real disappointment not to see the best of Quina again. In his defence I don’t think this is the position where we can see the best of him as he is struggling to free up those gaps and very often receives the ball in awkward areas. But that being said he is not offering enough and there was not an overwhelming desire to impact the game in a positive fashion. Nearly summed up when he sliced clear across the Hornets box straight to a Derby player on the edge of the area which thankfully came to nothing.
Ken Sema – 6/10
Like Quina, Watford are having problems releasing their attacking players into the right areas. Sema certainly tried to find that offensive freedom but it proved a tough ask and when he did receive the ball he was hit and miss with his efforts. A lovely turn in the second half brought a needed foul from the Derby defender as he looked set to enter the box and he is one of the standout performers this season without doubt as he continues to look bright. Another guilty of giving the ball away which created a scrappy contest.
Joao Pedro – 7.5/10
Simply couldn’t get into the game because of the lack of service from his teammates but it’s hard not to give him a high mark because of his stunning finish which was the all important winner for Watford. His beautiful curling strike was a moment of quality that he has threatened to show so far this season. From the little else he was involved in, he showed promising physicality and sensible link up play. You couldn’t ask much more on what was a difficult game to get involved in.
What do you make of these ratings? Let us know in the comments below!