There was much about Watford’s performance that was concerning but nothing terribly surprising, and nothing for which a clear solution presents itself. We knew that we were going into the season with a young side that was going to be dependent on senior players; we’ve already seen, in Cowie’s absence, the impact that removing one of those cogs can have on the whole shape of the side. More of the same today; Jordon Mutch and Stephen McGinn both had reasonable games in the middle of the park but the whole side missed the steadying influence, the aggression, the option, the foot-on-the-ball of John Eustace in the centre. Ross Jenkins might have reminded us of what he best offers, an option not really suited to pairing with the skipper for whom he’d have been the most obvious replacement but for his ankle injury.
The decision to start with Troy Deeney was only a surprise, if at all, for as long as it took for Jordon Mutch to give us the lead on three minutes. Whilst Camp looks thoroughly competent, the defence in front of him was a shambles every time a high ball came into the box. That we didn’t capitalise was down in part to simply not getting quality in often enough, down in part to luck, and down in part to some rather tolerant refereeing that saw Deeney wrestled away from the ball more than once and the safe option of penalising the striker adopted at both ends. Deeney’s card was marked by a number around us from the kick off, but for me he did a decent job of holding the ball up, linking the play and receiving the ball with his back to goal. Clearly an asset.