OPINION - Five thoughts following Watford's draw with Bournemouth
Watford and Bournemouth played out an action packed 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
The game was end-to-end for the majority of the second half and both sides had chances to win the match late on.
Bournemouth's Callum Wilson had put the Cherries in front on the half-an-hour mark as he met Junior Stanislas' deflected cross and powered the ball past Heurelho Gomes in the Watford goal.
The Hornets were level shortly after half-time as Nordin Amrabat did superbly well to wriggle away from Charlie Daniels and cross for Troy Deeney, who slotted the ball home to put Watford back on level terms and to score his 99th goal for the club.
Bournemouth went straight down the other end and nearly scored themselves, as Jack Wilshere wriggled past a few defenders before striking the ball against the post. Down the other end, Deeney forced a fantastic save from Artur Boruc, as the Hornets' captain diverted Roberto Pereyra's dinked cross towards goal with his head.
It was the Cherries who were to regain the lead in the 62nd minute, as substitute Josh King strode forward and hit a powerful strike which deflected off of Younes Kaboul and into the back of the net.
But they weren't to have the lead for long as the Golden Boys were back on level terms two minutes later. Jose Holebas' free kick was superbly met by Isaac Success, who flicked the ball into the corner of the net.
Both Watford and Bournemouth had chances to win it in the end, with Wilshere and Stanislas hitting the woodwork for Eddie Howe's men, but the game was to finish with the score being 2-2.
After attending Saturday's match at Vicarage Road, here are five of my main thoughts:
1 - Draw a fair result
On the basis of things, a draw was probably the right result. Yes, Bournemouth did hit the woodwork three times during the second half, but this was a very even game which was full of chances and was played at a frantic pace. The second half was breathless at times, as both teams went for it as they tried to get the three points, but I think it would have been rather harsh if either team had won it. Both teams played reasonably well but neither did enough to earn the three points I think. Watford can say that they had more possession during the first half but they didn't really cause any problems and Bournemouth made the most of the chances which came their way. The second half was more even and it was an end-to-end game, with both teams trading blows on a number of occasions. Both teams had chances to win it but as expected, the game was a close affair between two evenly matched sides. A draw was a fair result in the end and both managers can be reasonably satisfied going into the international break.
2 - Success has to start against Middlesbrough
This guy is the real deal. No wonder he is so highly rated. Built like a tank and with an abundance of pace, Isaac Success is an absolute nightmare to face if you are a defender. He came on just before the hour mark on Saturday and wreaked havoc with the Bournemouth defence. His quick and direct runs frightened the Cherries' back-line and they just didn't know how to stop him. The Nigerian scored a fantastic goal, as he leapt like a salmon to beautifully header Holebas' free kick past Artur Boruc in the Bournemouth goal. He nearly had another later on in the second half but he was inches away from connecting with Nordin Amrabat's teasing cross. He wasn't afraid to shoot from distance either, hitting a powerful strike in the dying moments which was ultimately straight at Boruc. Success looked dangerous whenever he got on the ball and his performance against Bournemouth adds further evidence as to why the Nigerian has got to start against Middlesbrough in two weeks' time.
3 - Amrabat has a good game out on the right
For me, Nordin Amrbat has been one of the most improved members of this Watford squad over the summer. Under Quique Sanchez Flores last season, he wasn't given much of a chance and was largely played out of position. When he did get the chance to get onto the pitch, Amrabat showed glimpses of what he could do, but at times he was a bit too light-weight and was prone to giving away cheap fouls on a few occasions. However, the Moroccan has been given a new lease of life under Walter Mazzarri and he is thriving. Against Bournemouth, Amrabat had another good game and he was at the heart of some of Watford's best moves. The Moroccan did superbly well for Troy Deeney's goal as he rolled Charlie Daniels with ease and played a fantastic cross into the path of Deeney who calmly slotted home. He gave Daniels the run around in the second half, with Amrabat's pace and power causing all sorts of problems. He played a couple of magnificent crosses into the box which caused Bournemouth's defence a number of problems and Amrabat nearly added another assist to his name in the second half, but Success was inches away from connecting with the Moroccan's teasing cross. He forced two good saves from Artur Boruc in the first half as well and you can sense that it is only a matter of time before he scores his first goal for the club. You can't fault his work ethic either as he worked his socks off all game, running up and down the right flank all afternoon. He tracked back to help out Juan Camilo Zuniga on numerous occasions and also got forward at every opportunity to support Watford's attacks. Hopefully Amrabat can keep his promising early season form up, as he's been impressive during the majority of our games so far.
4 - Defence a problem
I thought our defence looked rather shaky at the weekend and Walter Mazzarri will undoubtedly be disappointed by the goals we conceded. Yet again we conceded from a cross, with Callum Wilson easily catching out Seb Prodl to head Stanislas' deflected cross into the back of the net. The Cherries' second was unfortunate as King's strike deflected off of Kaboul and into the bottom corner, but it all stemmed from an error from Jose Holebas who didn't have his best game I thought. The Cherries were finding a lot of space down the wings which the likes of Callum Wilson and Junior Stanislas used to their advantage. Prodl was caught out a few times by Wilson's pace and I always felt a bit uneasy when Bournemouth broke forward because we looked rather uncertain at the back. I think one of the reasons we looked so shaky at the back was due to the lack of consistency in defence. We've been plagued with injuries since the start of the season, meaning that we've had to make at least one change to our back three or five since the Chelsea game. We haven't had the same defence in back-to-back games since the opening two matches of the season, which surely can't help our players. So it could be down to consistency as to why we looked so shaky at the back. That said, I did think Kaboul had a decent game in defence for us and he coped well with the threat of Wilson during the second half. He is a dominant and commanding figure at the back and he is also very composed with the ball at his feet. I definitely feel that four at the back is the way forward in this league and I hope Mazzarri sticks with that in the coming weeks. Hopefully he can work on our defensive issues during the international break and fingers crossed that some of our injured players will be close to a return after the break.
5 - Behrami has another good game in midfield
It was good to see the return of the Valon Behrami that we know and love on Saturday. Against Burnley, the midfielder didn't have his best game, like most of the team that night, but on Saturday I thought he was excellent. The Swiss enforcer didn't stop running all afternoon, pulling off some great tackles and breaking up play well. Saturday's game was scrappy at times in the centre of the park, as both teams battled for possession, and Behrami really thrived in midfield during the game. He does a lot of work which largely goes unnoticed and you can always rely on him to give it his all and get stuck in. The Swiss international has proved himself to be an important cog in the Watford side this season and he's now one of the first names on the team sheet I think. Behrami was criminally underused by Quique Sanchez Flores last season and the Swiss midfielder is starting to prove the Spaniard wrong. He is clearly enjoying life under Walter Mazzarri and long may his consistent performances continue.