Watford 1-2 Manchester United- Five of my thoughts.
A late own goal from Troy Deeney condemned Watford to an agonising 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday in the Premier League.
After a disappointing first half performance from the Golden Boys, Quique Sanchez Flores' men really took the game to Louis Van Gaal's side and they deserved a draw based on their display in the second half.
A draw looked like what Watford were going to get, after Troy Deeney smashed home a penalty five minutes from time, after Memphis Depay opened the scoring in the first half.
But it wasn't to be, as Deeney could only help Bastian Schweinsteiger's effort over the line, just minutes from the full-time whistle.
Following on from yesterday's game, here are five of my thoughts:
1 - A Tale Of Two Halves.
That old football cliché can be used to describe yesterday's events. Over the course of the first half, Manchester United were excellent and deserve credit. They dominated possession and looked threatening every time they ventured forward. The Red Devils pressurised the Golden Boys throughout the first half, meaning that Watford didn't look comfortable on the ball. Despite United's excellence, Watford were poor and they looked disjointed all over the park. In truth, Quique Sanchez Flores' men were rather lucky to go in 1-0 down. The Golden Boys can't afford to make a habit of starting games as sluggishly as they did on Saturday, as otherwise, they will make events far more difficult for themselves.
However, in the second half, it was a different story. Whilst Louis Van Gaal's side continued to look threating, it was Watford who started to ask more of the questions and they really made a fist of things. If it wasn't for a superb stop from David De Gea, the Hornets would have been level with 20 minutes to play, but the Spaniard somehow kept out Almen Abdi's deflected effort. On the basis of events in the second half, a point would have
been a fair result, but it just wasn't to be. It says a lot that Watford fans were disappointed at not coming away with a point vs Manchester United, so some perspective is needed. It just shows how far we've come and its promising that we still held our own against a top side, despite not being at our fluid best throughout the game.
2 - Nathan Ake must start vs Aston Villa.
I for one was surprised that Quique Sanchez Flores decided to replace the on-loan Chelsea man, with Jose Manuel Jurado. If anyone was to make way for the Spaniard, I thought it would be Ikechi Anya or Almen Abdi. Without young Ake in the side during the first half, the Hornets didn't look the same, although arguably the Golden Boy's looked disjointed in every position. However, the introduction of Ake at half-time coincided with an upturn in fortunes for the Golden Boys and an improved showing. Ake was superb during the second half for the Hornets. He was up-and-down the left flank throughout the second half and always made himself available during the Golden Boys' ventures up field. The Netherland's Under 21 international didn't neglect his defensive duties either, putting in a number of good challenges and keeping a close eye on the attacking talents that Manchester United possess. It was no surprise that Watford looked more comfortable in defence over the course of the second half. He must start at left-back given his performance yesterday and how well he has performed over the course of the last few weeks. If I were Gino Pozzo, I for one would be tempted to submit an offer to Chelsea either in January or in the summer to turn Ake's loan into a permanent deal.
3 - Paredes pushing for a start.
If I said this back in August, the majority of you would have called me mad. In-fact, some were surprised that the Ecuadorian international didn't depart Vicarage Road in the Summer Transfer Window. It appears that Paredes is considering his future at the club, in light of some of his quotes after the Leicester City game, but it seems that he has forced his way back into Quique Sanchez Flores' plans over the course of the last month. Flores has deployed him in a more attacking role as a second half substitute and Paredes has put in some good performances. Against Manchester United on Saturday, the Ecuadorian put in another good shift during the 20 minutes that he was on the pitch and in my view, he is pushing for a starting berth in the Watford side. In my view, Ikechi Anya has been disappointing over the course of the last few weeks and I certainly wouldn't quibble if the Ecuadorian replaced the Scotland international in the side vs Aston Villa. His in-advertent throw-in that smashed Daley Blind in the face was hilarious.
4 - Gomes improved in goal after Leicester display.
After his disappointing second half display vs Leicester, Gomes was much improved against Manchester United. He made a number of good saves during the match and helped restrict the Red Devils to just the one goal during the first half. Only black mark on his performance was his distribution, which was rather suspect. But on the whole, Gomes recovered from his performance against Leicester in good fashion and hopefully, the Brazilian can keep up the excellent goalkeeping displays that have made him a fan favourite.
5 - Big three games coming up next.
Aston Villa, Norwich City and Sunderland are the Hornets' next three fixtures. They are all teams below Watford in the table and are competing with the Golden Boys to secure their Premier League status. Therefore, it is important that the Hornets gain points from all of these fixtures. A points haul of five, six or maybe even seven points would be ideal in my opinion, so that we can keep the points ticking over and can maintain the gap that we have over the bottom three. As much as it would have been great to get a point against United, we are not going to be judged on how many points we get against the big teams in the division. What we need to do, is beat the teams around us and keep putting in good performances and this will ensure that we avoid an immediate return to the Championship. A point against United would have been great. But what is far more important, is taking points off of the teams in and around us in the table.