OPINION - Five thoughts following Watford's 2-1 win over Leicester
Watford bounced back from their Liverpool nightmare on Saturday, as they secured a 2-1 victory over Premier League champions Leicester City.
The win is Watford's first over a team which are the top-flight champions for 30 years and the result mean's the Golden Boys sit in 8th place in the Premier League, just one point behind Manchester United.
Walter Mazzarri's men flew out of the blocks and were 2-0 up inside 12 minutes, thanks to Etienne Capoue's half-volley and a magnificent strike from Roberto Pereyra.
However, Leicester were handed a route back into the game just a couple of minutes later, as Miguel Britos clumsily fouled Jamie Vardy inside the area and referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot.
Riyad Mahrez stepped up and rammed home the penalty to half the deficit and after an action-packed start at Vicarage Road, the game inevitably quietened down.
Pereyra had a golden chance to add a third for the Hornets in the second half, but his header was too close to Leicester 'keeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
Claudio Ranieri's men piled on the pressure for an equaliser as the game went on, but the Foxes failed to stretch Watford's defence, who stood firm and dug in to secure the three points.
After attending Saturday's match at Vicarage Road, here are some of my thoughts:
1 - Deserved victory for the Hornets
This was by no means Watford's best performance of the season but the Hornets certainly reacted in the right manner following the dismal display against Liverpool. Walter Mazzarri's men were fully deserving of the three points and the margin of victory could and should have been bigger, but Amrabat and Pereyra both wasted golden chances for the Hornets. The Golden Boy's first half display was excellent, with their attacking play causing all sorts of problems. However, things did become sloppy as the half went on, with Watford misplacing passes and making errors in possession, but it was largely a very good display from the Hornets in the first half. In the second half, Watford had to dig in and remain organised as Leicester pushed for an equaliser and the Hornets resisted the Foxes pressure well. The players were prepared to put their bodies on their line as well, throwing themselves in front of any shot which was heading towards Heurelho Gomes' goal. Despite Leicester's pressure, they didn't really cause Watford many problems in the second half and that is a testament to how well organised the Hornets were. As a result, we were full value for the victory. Yes, there are still things to work on, but it's hard not to be anything but positive about Watford right now. I don't think any of us expected the Hornets to be in 8th place going into the last few weeks of November, considering the start of the season we had. If we can consistently pick up points over the season, then an exciting season certainly lies ahead!
2 - Pereyra sprakles
There's been no question marks over Roberto Pereyra's talent since he arrived at Vicarage Road in the summer. The question has been about consistency and how we can get the best out of him. Pushed further forward by Mazzarri in a new 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formation, Pereyra flourished and he was the best player on the pitch without a shadow of a doubt. The Argentine did superbly well for our first goal, robbing Danny Drinkwater of possession, before nutmegging him later-on in the move and then crossing the ball into Deeney, who ultimately set up Capoue to slam the ball home. And then there's the small matter of his goal. Wow!! What a strike! The way he curled that ball into the top corner from such an acute position was exquisite. I could watch that goal all day for the rest of my life. It was a thing of beauty. On top of this, the former Juventus man showed some great moments of skill, nutmegging Danny Simpson among others, as he proceeded to show his class and mug off half off Leicester's team in the process. As the second-half went on, Pereyra showed the other side of his game, as he dug in and battled with the rest of the Watford team as the Hornets looked to close out the match. On the whole, Pereyra was simply outstanding on Saturday, with the Argentine showing his class and why Watford forked out £13m for him. The only question for him now is whether he can reproduce this performance more consistently. If he can, then who knows what Watford can achieve with Pereyra in the team.
3 - Prodl immense at the back
It was certainly pleasing to see Sebastian Prodl back in the starting line-up on Saturday. We really missed the Austrian international against Liverpool, with Prodl bringing leadership and calmness to our defence. On Saturday against Leicester, Prodl was absolutely-immense. He won literally everything in the air, with the Austrian being a commanding and dominant figure at the back. He had Jamie Vardy in his back-pocket for the whole game and the England international barely had a sniff due to Prodl's positioning. Vardy can be a very tricky customer but Prodl made marking him look easy. He pulled off some good tackles and blocks as well and also showcased his ability with the ball at his feet during the game. Prodl's role in Watford's second goal will largely go unnoticed but it was the Austrian who played a superb cross-field ball to release Pereyra down the left and within a matter of a few seconds, the Hornets had doubled their advantage. Saturday's game capped off another superb display from Watford's number five, who has been one of our best players this season in my opinion. In my book, he's an early contender for Player-of-the-Season as he has simply been superb whenever called upon and long may his good form continue.
4 - Kaboul has a solid game
I know Younes Kaboul has divided opinion among Watford fans and has received plenty of criticism in recent weeks. However, against Leicester I thought he had his best game in a Watford shirt and the Frenchman produced a solid performance. Kaboul was a commanding figure at the back alongside Prodl and he pulled of some good interceptions, one of which was when he diverted a teasing Leicester cross behind for a corner in the first-half, with Mahrez lurking at the back post. He and Prodl marked Vardy superbly, meaning that the England international barely had a sniff all game. Yes, the former Tottenham Hotspur man can be rather suspect with the ball at his feet and he does have a mistake in him, but his display on Saturday was commanding and dominant. There were signs on Saturday that he has started to form more of an understanding with Prodl and Britos and hopefully this will be the start of some consistent performances from Kaboul.
5 - Early signs are promising with the new formation
Walter Mazzarri altered Watford's formation on Saturday and his decision certainly paid off. Lining up in a 3-4-3/3-4-2-1 formation, the Hornets looked much better and Troy Deeney certainly received more support up top. The formation plaid to the strengths of Nordin Amrabat and Roberto Pereyra as it gave them licence to roam and meant that they didn't have to track back as much. As such, it allowed them to have more of an impact going forward and it certainly worked to Amrabat's favour, as it allowed him to form his fantastic partnership with Daryl Janmaat down the right. We also looked organised all over the pitch and we did a job on Leicester in the end, as they didn't create many clear-cut chances. There's still some work to be done, as Deeney was winning lots of headers up front during the second half, but no one was running in behind to stretch Leicester's defence. Overall though, the early signs were promising with the new formation and it certainly suited a lot of our players.