Traveling north to St James’ all indications were the Golden Boys would take care of business coming off back to back clean sheets and return home with nothing less than three points. It was a crucial match, as these matches, against lower league teams need to be won and constitute an “important” three points dropped. Based on the statistics, it was NOT a game that should have ended 1-0, in favor the Magpies.
The Hornets didn’t come out in impressive fashion, by all appearances they were a bit flat, but as we have seen in previous games, the on pitch effort was excellent. The only part of the game that draws criticism, the finishing. It’s been this way for a few years. Andre Gray hasn’t been the answer since his move from Burnley. Issac Success, has showed some brilliant flashes, but even he was wasteful this weekend. Just four games back, I am willing to give Gerard Deulofeu a pass, as he is still working back to full match fitness. Stefan Okaka? WTF? Why do we even have him?
The statistics from the forward (minus Deulofeu, classfied as a midfielder) line read 14 penalty touches, 7 goal attempts, 5 attempts inside the box, just ONE SHOT ON TARGET! Delving into the midfield attack, just calls into the questions the Hornets have when it comes to the final product; 19 penalty touches, 8 goal attempts, 7 inside the box and NONE on target. We made Martin Dubravka look world class!
Deulofeu will draw a brunt of the criticism, as the Spaniard had 4 goal attempts, all inside the box with two big chances taken. “If you do not score and kill the game when you have the chance to do something like today can happen,” Javi Gracia said. Ahead of the Newcastle game, Watford was fifth in shot accuracy, 37.5% behind Man United, Arsenal, Leicester City and Man City. This weekend, 6.3% shot accuracy, but creating a chance every 6 minutes. Mind boggling and frustrating at the same time.
It was wasted chance after wasted chance. Once the Hornets settled in, it was domination in the midfield, with Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure, controlling the ball and tempo of the game. We have seen this all season long, as they players are key to the transition game. They both played very well. Again. Gracia said, “If you ask me about the game or the result, I can be disappointed today with the result because I think we have done many things well, but I can’t be disappointed with the way my team played.”
Defensively, there can’t be too many arguments on how the defense played. Ben Foster faced just two shots on goal through 90 minutes. Unfortunately, the undoing this weekend was Ki Sung-yueng’s free-kick that was met with a glancing header from Ayoze Perez, a player who hadn’t been performing that Rafa Benitez continued to favor. Foster was in the right position, but a ball delivered that sharply, ticked of at the top of the six yard box is virtually unstoppable. Created to Ki and Perez for creating something to give Newcastle the lead.
What does Gracia do with this forward line? “We can speak about how many players had a good chance to score; Stefano Okaka, Roberto Pereyra hit the crossbar, Adrian Mariappa, Isaac Success, a lot of players had clear chances,” said the Watford boss. This has been the knock on Watford for the past few years. It appears the talent on the squad is viable. Deulofeu has looked stunning since returning, albeit a bit frustrated, as Gracia has limited him to 68′, 64 and 65′ in the last three games, which he has started.
By all appearances, he (and Roebrto Pereyra) have been the most dynamic and dangerous in the box. He’s posted 12 penalty touches, 9 goal attempts, 7 shots inside the box, two big chances, but just the one shot on goal. Even with Deeney on the mend, it could be Deulofeu to continue to lead the Watford from line. Who partners with him?
This area of concern is something that needs to be sorted in short time, as Watford stare at Liverpool and Man City at the Vic in game week 13 and 15. One more “tune up” game next week, visiting St. Marys’ and a Saints team that conceded six goals to City. It’s another opportunity to boost the confidence of attacking players as the Saints have 20 goals on the season.