OPINION - Five thoughts following Watford's 1-0 win over Hull
Watford returned to winning ways on Saturday as Walter Mazzarri's men beat Hull City 1-0 at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets had been dominant for large parts but they had failed to turn possession into clear-cut chances and goals, especially in the second half.
In the end, they earnt a stroke of luck, as Hull skipper Michael Dawson diverted Daryl Janmaat's cross past his own 'keeper to hand Watford all three points.
Watford had been the better team over the course of the game and they could have been out of sight in the first ten or fifteen minutes. Younes Kaboul hit the crossbar early on, before Roberto Pereyra hit the post with a wonderful curling effort. The Hornets also went close through Sebastian Prodl and captain Troy Deeney in the later stages of the first half, but they just couldn't score that elusive first goal.
As the second half went on, Vicarage Road became more frustrated and at times, you thought the match was destined to finish 0-0. However, Dawson's own goal in the 82nd minute handed Watford all three points and the result means the Golden Boys move up to 7th in the table (pinch me if I'm dreaming).
After attending Saturday's match at Vicarage Road, here are some of my thoughts:
1 - Sign of a good team if you can win if not playing at your best
A key attribute of any good team is if you can continue to grind our results despite not being at your best. That's exactly what Watford did on Saturday. Aside from the first half-an-hour, where Walter Mazzarri's men well and truly tore Hull to shreds, Watford found it difficult to break down a resolute Hull defence and they struggled to create many clear-cut chances in the second half. The Golden Boys never looked like conceding or losing the game. Defensively we were solid and Heurelho Gomes was a spectator for most of the game. We were in control for large parts but it was in the attacking third where things started to break down for the Hornets. Hull's 'keeper David Marshall didn't have too much to do during the second half and at times, you wanted Watford to be more decisive or to speed things up. However, it would have been criminal if the Hornets had lost the game as we had been in control for large parts and had restricted Hull to very few chances. In truth, it wasn't the greatest Watford performance I've ever seen and Saturday's game won't be one I will be replaying in years to come. But three points is all that matters. It keeps us ticking over nicely and a third clean sheet in a row can only build confidence among the squad. To win when you're not at your best is the sign of a good team and hopefully, we can continue to consistently pick up points over the course of the season. Seventh place after 10 games is a fantastic place to be given our tough start to the season. What a time to be a Watford fan!
2 - Nordin Amrabat deservedly man of the match
Nordin Amrabat has been one of the pleasant surprises of this Watford season so far. Having been on the fringes of the squad over the summer, Amrabat has revitalised his Watford career under Mazzarri and since his opening day start against Southampton, he has become an increasingly useful foil in this side. On Saturday, the Moroccan was magnificent and he deservedly earnt the man-of-the-match award at the end of the game. Amrabat had the beating of Hull's makeshift wing-back Sam Clucas all afternoon and if anyone was going to create something, it was going to be him. The Moroccan was our most threatening player throughout the game, with his pace and power causing Hull all sorts of problems. They didn't know how to deal with him and he would frequently roll his man with ease. Some have said his final ball wasn't good enough, but I don't completely accept that. While some of his balls into the box were too long, there were others where, had they been attacked by a Watford player, David Marshall would have had some work to do. Having barely been used by Quique Sanchez Flores during the second half of last season, Amrabat has looked revitalised under Walter Mazzarri and he has become one of our most creative players. The 29-year-old received a standing ovation yesterday and he fully deserved it. Amrabat was superb and hopefully he can keep his early form up for the rest of the season.
3 - Watford need to move things forward quicker
When Watford got forward and attacked with pace during the first half-an-hour of the game, they tore Hull apart. You thought it was a question of how many the Hornets would score if they continued their bright start. In truth, the Golden Boys could have been out of site before half-time, given they had hit the cross-bar and post and Sebastian Prodl was inches away from giving the Hornets the lead with a header. However, the Golden Boys' bright start fizzled out and during the second half, I thought our play was far too slow and predictable at times. There was no real urgency and it made things easy for Hull to defend against. As a result, we struggled to create many clear-cut chances in the second half despite our dominance. It was a shame that we couldn't keep our bright start up, because things would have been a lot more comfortable then they were. When we get the ball forward with pace, we look a serious threat and we can unlock any defence on our day. If we can attack with pace and precision more often, then we could cause teams serious problems.
4 - Pereyra more involved
After a promising start to his Watford career against Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United, Roberto Pereyra has failed to have the same effect in games since. However, on Saturday against Hull, I for one felt he was more involved and he certainly had more of an effect on the game. He nearly scored a magnificent goal in the opening minutes, curling a magnificent strike which clipped the post. It seemed destined to nestle into the back of the net from where I was sitting in the Rookery. The former Juventus man was also neat and tidy in possession and he played a delightful ball into the path of Ighalo in the second half, having won the ball back just in front of our penalty area. Pereyra had more of an effect on the game than he has done in recent weeks and he was one of our standout players on Saturday without a shadow of a doubt. You sense there's still more to come from him but his display against Hull was certainly promising.
5 - Good to see Janmaat return
One of the positives to emerge from Saturday's game was the return of Daryl Janmaat. The Dutch international has been out for the past month with a shoulder injury and he came on for the final 20 minutes against Hull. One of the first things Janmaat did after coming on was burst forward and have a shot from distance and that kind of energy had been missing from Watford's second half display aside from Nordin Amrabat. The wing-back was full of energy after coming on, running up and down the right wing, and he linked up well with Amrabat down the right. It was his cross which would ultimately lead to Watford's winner and he certainly looked bright during his cameo appearance. I really like Janmaat as a player and am delighted to see him back in the squad. I think he is a quality player and his style of play suits the right-wing-back role down to a tee. He has to start next week for me against Liverpool next weekend.