‘In the balance’ would best describe my current view for Watford FC. A convincing performance away against a side that is renowned for the phrase “you will never get a result away at Stoke on a wet and cold Tuesday night”. We achieved this feat on a Saturday afternoon, however you see my gist for the enormity of this win for the Yellows.
In sceptical terms, both our goals came from a slip and lack of confidence. You could argue Deeney would have not got a shot away if it wasn’t for a defender slip, and you can certainly argue that a better level of concentration would certainly not have let the second goal rasp the net. This echoed a similar theme with the game against West Ham which begs the question – are we currently riding our luck?
In positive terms, a wonderful flick from Ighalo made the first, and then a neat pass set up the second – finished with a thunderbolt from club favourite Almen Abdi. Well done Almen and Troy of course. I have never seen such relief in his celebration. It was evident that even the resounding confident figure we see at press conferences must have doubted himself a little, some ten games later without scoring. Against the Hammers, a schoolboy error from Andy Carroll set the tone for the visitors’ performance.
Now look, I have a problem with Watford. Two key areas worry me, the first being an over-reliance on the formation. The only system that seems to be grinding out results (grinding is the right term I add, apart from the splendid win against West Ham). If we do not take our chances then it will be slender losses we will have to embrace as Hornets fans. This links into my second point, which is the burden on the shoulders of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney. Strikers are typically brittle and I am aware both of these break the mould, with a beautiful mix of strength, power, pace and compatibility between them. It’s truely beautiful to watch, our version of Cole and Yorke if you like.
11 games in to me is still early days and the same formation virtually has covered the entirety of those near 1000 minutes of Premier League football. Now top-flight clubs are not daft. They study teams inside out and then turn them the right way round again. Soon clubs will suss how to play against Watford to gain the best chance of gaining the three points.
Whatever happens in this formation, we will always guarantee to be in with a ‘shout’. Soaking up pressure, men behind the ball and then counter-attacking with pace with the likes of Anya and Ibarbo. Teams will be smart in terms of using other tactics. We have no plan ‘B’.
A massive worry for me is if we go a goal down. Would Watford crumble if we changed two holding players in midfield. Fortunately, Ben Watson is playing out of his skin and keeping Guedioura, who I thought was a certain start out of the starting XI.
Playing devil’s advocate now, but what happens if, heaven forbid, Deeney or Ighalo had a nasty injury? Do Watford really have someone of that nature to fill their boots? With Vydra and Forestieri now playing for Championship clubs, and Ibarbo currently looking like a bull in a china shop, the answer is no. January needs a striker of class to bring a new dimension to Vicarage Road.