OPINION - Five thoughts after Watford's historic 3-1 win over Manchester United
Watford pulled off one of the biggest results in the club's history as they beat Jose Mourinho's Manchester United for the first time in 30 years.
The Hornets were fully deserving winners in the end and ran out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Etienne Capoue, Juan Camilo Zuniga and a late Troy Deeney penalty.
Watford took the lead in the 36th minute and it was no more than they deserved, having gone close on a few occasions in the first half-an-hour. Miguel Britos won the ball back out wide after a Watford free-kick had been partially cleared and Daryl Janmaat ran into the penalty area before pulling the ball back to Capoue, who curled the ball into the net.
United got back on level terms after the break as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's cross rebounded off Valon Behrami and into the path of Marcus Rashford who fired the ball into the bottom corner.
Mazzarri opted for a change in the 81st minute, bringing on Juan Camilo Zuniga for goal-scorer Capoue and his substitution paid off in a matter of 53 seconds.
Nordin Amrabat played a wonderful pass into Roberto Pereyra, who took a touch and pulled the ball back to Zuniga on the edge of the penalty area and the Colombian international instinctively curled the ball into the bottom corner. You wouldn't think that was his first club goal in just over four years would you?
Deep into stoppage time and Watford were awarded a penalty, as Issac Success went on a powerful run into the box, before cutting the ball back to Zuniga who was hauled down by Marouane Fellaini.
Michael Oliver instantly pointed to the spot and Deeney stepped up to fire the ball into the roof of the net to send Vicarage Road wild.
After attending Sunday's match at Vicarage Road, here are five of my main thoughts:
1 - Best Watford performance I have ever seen
Back in December when we beat Liverpool 3-0 at Vicarage Road, I honestly thought that it would be some time before we ever saw a Watford performance like that again. We were so good on that day and battered one of the best teams in the top-flight on our own patch. But how wrong could I have been? The Hornets' display against Manchester United was the best performance I have ever seen from a Watford side in my time as a fan without a shadow of a doubt. People can say whatever they like about Manchester United's performance, but look at the side they put out. They really went for it with the likes of Pogba, Martial, Rooney, Rashford and Ibrahimovic all on the same pitch. They have some world class players among their ranks and they were made to look silly by Walter Mazzarri's men. In the end, Watford performed so well that they forced the Red Devils into making so many uncharacteristic mistakes and I think most would say that the Golden Boys were fully deserving of the three points. We didn't give United any respect and went at them from the off. It's fair to say that we could and should have led by a bigger margin at half-time given the chances we had. United couldn't cope with us offensively and we caused their defence all sorts of problems. Whether it be Deeney and Ighalo hassling Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly or the likes of Daryl Janmaat and Jose Holebas bombing down the wing; United couldn't cope with the threat we posed. Defensively we were organised and disciplined and we didn't give them many chances whatsoever. Their goal came from an unfortunate bounce off of Valon Behrami and the only other real chance they had was when Ibrahimovic forced a superb save from Heurelho Gomes. Aside from that, United didn't really have too many other chances and that is a testament to how well Watford defended.. All in all, it was a fantastic performance from the Golden Boys and one that we should all cherish in years to come. I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride as I walked away from Vicarage Road and it's crazy to think how far this club has come under the ownership of the Pozzo family. What a time to be a Watford fan!
2 - Mazzarri deserves a lot of praise
(Picture - Zimbio)
Opinion was divided among Watford fans in the summer when it was announced that Walter Mazzarri was to be the club's new head coach, with the Italian signing a three-year-deal at Vicarage Road. I think it's fair to say that the Italian is really starting to change the opinion of those sceptical of his appointment, as he has played a big part in the Hornets' recent wins. Against United on Sunday, Mazzarri got his tactics spot on. He set Watford up in a 4-1-4-1 formation which worked a treat, as it made the Hornets tough to break down and it also meant that the Hornets didn't lose any of the attacking threat which they have showcased in recent weeks. All of the players on the pitch were well drilled and were prepared to put their body's on the line. Added to this, the Italian has got us playing some wonderful football and it seems that Mazzarri is really starting to add his stamp on this team. He also got his substitutions spot on, with each sub playing a prominent part in Watford's final two goals. The decision to bring on Juan Camilo Zuniga was a game changer as within 53 seconds of him coming on, the Colombian international had put the Hornets 2-1 up and in stoppage time, Zuniga was the man who won the penalty after a fantastic run from fellow substitute Isaac Success. His tactics were spot on during the game on Sunday and for that the Italian deserves a lot of praise. He has got us playing some fantastic football and after our recent two victory's, I can't help but feel excited as to what the Hornets could achieve under his stewardship.
3 - Sebastian Prodl was immense!
(Picture - Zimbio)
Now before I go on, I've got to admit that all of the Watford players on the pitch were fantastic on Sunday. However, there was one individual who really stood out and that was Sebastian Prodl. He was phenomenal and didn't put a foot wrong all game. I would go as far as saying that his display on Sunday was one of the best performances I've seen from a Watford defender. He was given the unenviable task of marking Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the world's best strikers, and the Austrian barely gave him a sniff. Prodl won pretty much everything in the air and he frustrated United's number 9 all game. The only real opportunity the Swede had was when he outjumped Miguel Britos at the far post, forcing a fantastic save from Heurelho Gomes. As well as the above, Big Seb was also calm and composed at the back and he pulled off a number of fantastic challenges, the pick of which coming late in the first-half when he somehow slid into nick the ball away from Ibrahimovic, who was powering through on goal. What a fantastic performance from Prodl on Sunday and rumour has it that Ibrahimovic is still in the Austrian's back pocket now!
4 - Jose Holebas has another good game
Greek left-back Jose Holebas has been one of Watford's most consistent performers this season and that didn't change on Sunday. Holebas defended superbly all afternoon, frustrating Marcus Rashford so much that he forced him to swap flanks with Anthony Martial half way through the first half. He pulled off a number of superb tackles and was disciplined at the back throughout. As well as his defensive duties, Holebas also got forward at every opportunity and his quality deliveries into the box caused the United defence all sorts of problems. He's really started to make the left-back position his own and it's a shame that we never really got to see too much of him last season under Quique Sanchez Flores.
5 - Troy Deeney puts in a true captain's performance
(Picture - BBC)
You can always rely on Troy Deeney to give you 110% each game and on Sunday that was no different. Deeney put in a real captain's performance and played a key role in helping the Hornets get over the line at the weekend. He won literally everything in the air, tormenting the United back-line all game. He came so close to putting the Golden Boys ahead in the 9th minute, as he was just inches away from connecting with Prodl's header and a little while later, he forced a superb save from De Gea, having powerfully met Daryl Janmaat's cross with his head. His sheer presence scared the United defence, forcing a mix-up between Chris Smalling and De Gea which presented Ighalo with a guilt edged opportunity which he spurned. The captain led the line superbly well as always and also tracked back to help out when the Hornets were under the cosh. He scored the goal which his performance merited in the 95th minute, as he powerfully smashed the ball into the roof of the net from the penalty spot to send Vicarage Road delirious. All in all, in was a fantastic captain's performance from Deeney and he really has returned to his brilliant best in recent weeks.