Five thoughts folllowing Watford's draw with Bournemouth.
After all the pre-match build-up about the rivalry between Watford and Bournemouth, the game between the two sides failed to live up to expectations.
A stalemate was played out at Vicarage Road between the Hornets and the Cherries in what was a scrappy affair which was low on quality.
Odion Ighalo spurned the Hornets' best chance in the second half, as his unmarked header from six yards sailed over the bar.
At the other end, Heurelho Gomes pulled off a couple of superb saves, especially from Harry Arter, to preserve a clean sheet and keep the Hornets on level terms.
In truth, a draw was probably a fair result as neither team did enough to win the game and the result means the Golden Boys drop one place to tenth position in the table, although they are now thirteen points above the relegation zone.
After attending Saturday's game at Vicarage Road, here are five of my thoughts:
1 - Hornets nowhere near their best
Much was made of the supposed rivalry between the two sides in the build up to Saturday's match and as such a high octane and fiery affair was anticipated. However, it was far from the case. The game was a largely scrappy affair which was low on quality and in the end a draw was probably a fair result. On the whole, Watford were nowhere near their best as they struggled to create clear-cut chances and they were unusually poor in possession, as the Golden Boys lost the ball on a number of occasions. They missed that bit of quality, especially in the final third which meant that Quique Sanchez Flores' men failed to create many clear cut chances. But when they did create one, they blew it as Ighalo spurned a golden chance to put the Hornets ahead mid-way through the second half. After missing that glorious chance, the Hornets failed to create anything else and it appeared in the end that they were settling for a point. On the whole, the Hornets were nowhere near their best as their ball retention and penetration in the final third was poor throughout the game. They will need to perform much better on Wednesday night at Old Trafford against Manchester United if they want to return to Hertfordshire with a point or three.
2 - Amrabat shows sign of promise
(Picture - Zimbio)
January signing Nordin Amrabat was handed his second Premier League start on Saturday against Bournemouth and I was impressed with the Moroccan international. His pace and power caused Bournemouth all sorts of problems for Bournemouth, especially in the second half and he was always looking to drop into space in order to receive the ball. He played a delightful cross, which expertly set Ighalo up six yards out, but the Nigerian couldn't take full advantage. The former Malaga man was the Hornets' creative force and all of the Golden Boys' best play went through the 28-year-old. You noticed the difference when Amrabat wasn't on the pitch, as the Golden Boys struggled to create any more chances and they didn't look as threatening when he wasn't on the pitch. The role in behind Deeney and Ighalo suited him, as it gave him a licence to roam, allowing him to drop into space and receive the ball. It was certainly a promising performance from the Hornets' new signing and I'd certainly like to see him feature more in the next few weeks. The less, however, said about his miss-kick when in a promising position to fire an effort at goal, the better!
3 - Behrami is under-rated.
(Picture - Empics Sport)
There are some players in this Watford side who don't get enough credit that they deserve. One player who fits into this category is Valon Behrami. After the game, when I was summarising my post- match thoughts on Twitter, I got a tweet from @Pozzo_Power saying he had heard some fans at the game saying 'he's not prem quality' which in my view, is completely wrong. The man oozes class and is without a doubt, Premier League quality. Against Bournemouth, it was another industrious and hard-working display from the Swiss international, as he broke up play superbly well. The 30-year-old never gave the Cherries players a moments piece, as he was always snapping at their heels in order to regain possession. When a gap was left by one of the Hornets' full-back's, Behrami was always there, filling in to avert any danger and his leadership and experience in the side has proven to be crucial. In my opinion he is a class act and does not get the credit he deserves. He is an increasingly important cog in this Watford side.
4 - Capoue should be dropped
(Picture - Zimbio)
Up until recently, Etienne Capoue has been superb for the Golden Boys. The Frenchman was running the midfield in games up to January for the Hornets and conducted his offensive and defensive duties well. His superb form made him one of Watford's standout players in the first half of the season. However, since January, Capoue has failed to live up to the heights he reached in the first half of the season and I was really disappointed with his display on Saturday. The Frenchman unusually gave the ball away on a number of occasions and when he did so in a dangerous position, he showed no effort to try and regain the ball. In one instance in the first half, Capoue lost the ball in a dangerous position in the final third, yet showed no attempt to track back or help the defence out. At times he just strolled around and didn't look too fussed at all, which is incredibly frustrating given the talent we know he has. That laziness is unacceptable and following his performances recently, I think Capoue needs to be dropped. Don't get me wrong, he is a fantastic player and has been one of our star performers this season, but his performances recently just have not been good enough. With Mario Suarez at the club, we now have genuine quality in depth and Capoue needs to up his game in order to ensure he remains in the starting eleven.
5 - What's happened to the atmosphere at Vicarage Road?
Now, before I start, I just want to put it out there that I love the 1881 movement and all that they've done for the club. Since their inception they have played a considerable role in the improvement of the atmosphere at Vicarage Road. When Vicarage Road is rocking, there's no stopping it and it's a fantastic sight. Games such as the win over Middlesbrough in April 2015 and the victories over Swansea and Liverpool this season, are just some of the examples of the Vic at its noisy best. As a season ticket holder in the Rookery, I look forward to playing a part in roaring the team on to victory and that involves signing my heart out until I literally have no voice left.
But recently, something has changed. The non-stop singing that we've grown accustomed to in recent seasons has faded away. In each of the FA Cup fixtures at Vicarage Road against Newcastle and Leeds as well as the
match against Bournemouth at the weekend, the roar of the rookery has turned into something of a murmur. Troy Deeney said in his programme notes on Saturday that as a player he's noticed the change in atmosphere especially in the FA Cup. In his own words he said: "It's like there's a little edge missing." Now as I'm sure you've heard time and time again, players feed off the support they get in the stand. Hearing the chanting of the Watford fans gives the players that extra bit of determination to try and do something special. It also re-assures tha players and lets them know we are here with you. We will support you in any way, shape or form.
But on Saturday against Bournemouth, the chanting came to a complete stop for large parts of the game. At times you could hear a pin drop as the Bournemouth fans didn't create much of an atmosphere either. For me, that was disappointing. With all the pre-match build up and anticipation about the so called 'rivalry' between the two sides, I thought both fans would have been well up for this. But that wasn't the case for some reason.
You could sense the nervousness around Vicarage Road and perhaps that transmitted on to the pitch. Even Harry the Hornet couldn't drum up any atmosphere at the Vic. A rocking Vic on Saturday against Bournemouth and perhaps we would have won. It may have given the players that extra 10% to produce something out of nothing or to create that golden chance for Deeney or Ighalo to stick away.
Against Leicester we need to up the antics. We need to show the boys we are right behind them and roar them on to victory! Let's get the Vic rocking once again!
Player ratings -
Gomes (GK) 8, Paredes 6, Britos 7, Cathcart 7, Ake 6.5, Capoue 5 (Suarez 6), Watson 6.5, Behrami 7, Amrabat 7 (Abdi N/A), Deeney 6, Ighalo 5.
Subs not used - Pantilimon, Prodl, Nyom, Holebas, Anya.