We played some of our best positive football in ages in this game, our attacking moves were sharp, our finishing strong. And yet we were also offering vacant possession of most of the pitch to any enterprising North Ender who happened along and fancied a piece. At first they tended to happen along three or four a minute, since their industriousness put us to shame. And then, when they saw our shapeless generosity, our lack of stomach for a scrap, they all fancied a piece.
BSAD report: Last night Watford used their “Get out of jail free” card, stealing a win in an entirely bewildering game of football. I’m as unsure about how we failed to put the game beyond Oldham’s reach in the first half as I am about how the hell we avoided defeat in the second. This was both a game that we should’ve won by miles and a game that we should’ve lost humiliatingly. If that makes any sense at all.
More games from 18th November at https://oldwatford.com/tag/nov18
Taken from the programme on 18th August 2001-New Division One, Watford 3 Rotherham United 2
Gerard Deulofeu fired the visitors ahead after just 76 seconds but Norwich squandered numerous chances to score before half-time against a Watford side who had kept only one clean sheet on the road in 2019.
Deulofeu was the architect, sending Alex Tettey to the floor before lofting a cross from the left on to the penalty spot, where Gray was waiting. The striker was marked by Jamal Lewis and, it seemed, tightly enough too. It turned out to be too tight, however, as Gray chose not to take a touch but simply backheel the ball past the full-back and beyond a non-plussed Krul.
Watford went down to ten men for the final quarter of the game, as Christian Kabasele was dismissed for a silly, second yellow card, but they were already 2-0 up and had enough to resist the troubled home side.
There’s no downplaying the tension. They’ve all been big games of course, all must-win games until we win one but coming before against an international break against a struggling opponent… surely now or, you know, if not never then perhaps too late. Significantly some big names are back in training and this announcement had built anticipation over the anxiety… Troy, Caps, Sarr, Seb, of whom Caps starts in midfield and Troy is a very welcome return to the bench. There’s a nervous energy rippling through the away seats.
A spirited goalkeeping performance from Ben Foster – who made no fewer than eight saves – prevented Chelsea from extinguishing Watford’s challenge, which was boosted 10 minutes from time when a controversial VAR-awarded penalty was converted by Gerard Deulofeu.
Given that it was little more than a duel between Ben Foster and Chelsea’s forwards at times, it would have been a strange twist if the goalkeeper had rescued a point for Watford with the game’s final act. They were into the sixth minute of added time when Foster, who had kept his side in it with countless saves, decided to charge forward after Mason Mount conceded a free-kick deep on the left, and it would have been an extraordinary ending if the 36-year-old’s downward header had crept beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Despite their spirited late comeback, Watford remain without a win in 11 league games – 15 going back to last season – and stay at the bottom of the table, so this should have been the perfect fixture to get Frank Lampard’s team back on track after their midweek home defeat by Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.
When we give away a stupid goal after five reasonably positive minutes, albeit a goal carved by a remarkable through ball you can feel the stadium deflate. “Well, that’s that then”, which it sort of was and sort of wasn’t. But what a half-witted way to concede, no wonder Ben Foster screamed with frustration. When you can’t score goals keeping it tight, particularly against an opponent like this one, one that revels in playing away from home, is everything.
Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores: “It was important to see [Domingos] Quina, to see [Sebastian] Prodl, to see [Dimitri] Foulquier, to see many players who are part of the squad. They are not playing too many minutes. “If we were able to win here then perfect, if we were not able to win, we need to set up for the next match at the weekend. We need all of them, in our situation we need all of them. The players got some confidence and they will need this for the future.”
Watford’s best chance came after an hour, a thunderous drive from Andre Gray that Jordan Pickford did well to parry. It was perhaps not the most difficult of saves, though Pickford was doing well just to be awake after enduring 60 soporific minutes as a spectator, and Gray’s shot came with little warning.
This was a generous cup draw for Silva. Watford’s league predicament at the bottom of the Premier League making this competition a distraction they could do without. Quique Sánchez Flores’ side look more organised since his appointment, even with eight changes from the last league game. Attacking flair is evidently an optional extra at this point of his rebuilding.
Watford are “getting closer” to their first victory in the Premier League this season, says manager Quique Sanchez Flores, despite their winless start stretching to 10 games with a goalless draw against Bournemouth.
Watford needed Ben Foster to deny Diego Rico and Arnaut Groeneveld just before half-time, while Aaron Ramsdale had to be at his best to keep out Gerard Deulofeu’s individual effort after the interval.
“I am confident and I am realistic too,” said Flores, who oversaw his third straight draw since taking the Watford reins. “I know how the players are training every week. They deserve to win. We are creating something solid for the future. I believe that. I want to think in a positive way and that this was a good base for the future.”
It’s not a cold day. No need for layers, not yet. But it’s wet and windy. And it’s wild. I love weather like this. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”… and this is ferocious and invigorating. This is the weather in which heroes are made, the weather in which great deeds are done. The weather in which we claim our first three points of the season, reverse continental shift, put the enemy to the sword. Do stuff worthy of being put to a song, stuff worthy of “do you remember when…” stories in 20, 30 years time. Or. Or it could be a bit shit and underwhelming. That’s always an option, obviously.
The final whistle was greeted with some half-hearted boos from the home supporters. The Hornets had the better of the second half but, after the promise of the performance against Tottenham, it had proved to be a very disappointing game. The good news is that we are now three games unbeaten and the defence is looking far more solid.
Craig Dawson frustrated after VAR decision meant Watford had to settle for draw at Tottenham Hotspur
Alli’s leveller (86) – after Abdoulaye Doucoure (6) had given Watford the lead – was reviewed by VAR for a potential handball and referee Chris Kavanagh signalled for a goal but the big-screen message, which is controlled by Stockley Park, stated that the goal had been ruled out. After some confusion, the goal was eventually given.
For Watford this was one of those so-near-yet-so-far days, but the commitment from his players gave heart to Quique Sánchez Flores. The league’s bottom side were far from the rabble of early season here and, had they been more decisive in one of several counterattacking opportunities, they might yet have secured their first win of the season.
For much of the game Watford’s midfield was everything Tottenham’s was not. Tom Cleverley was calm and organised, Nathaniel Chalobah clever and ambitious, while Doucoure was quite superb. Strong in the tackle, athletic in possession, and with a clever final pass, he ran the game.
And here’s the VAR bit. Two big calls. A penalty shout for Deulofeu in the first half, not given. Alli’s goal, not denied despite a handball in the build-up and a shove on Christian Kabasele. No view of either at the time, both at the far end… Deulofeu’s penalty looks nailed on, Alli’s “handball” at least plausibly interpretable as shoulder rather than arm. We didn’t get either decision, it was ever thus away at a big club, these things matter more because we’re so desperate for the points. On balance wringing our hands too much about the equaliser is misguided; Ben Foster should have cleaned it out, Kiko could have been more decisive, and however inspiring our performance and well-judged the strategy if you spend most of the game defending your penalty area you increase the opportunity for such a decision to go against you.
If we continue to play as well as we did on Saturday, we won’t be in the relegation zone for long. This was the first time that we have seen a convincing performance from the whole team. I hope that we bring that into the Bournemouth game and have Vicarage Road bouncing again.