Nigel Pearson say he is “very confident” that his Watford team can avoid relegation from the Premier League after they collected just their second win of the season against Manchester United at Vicarage Road.
Five minutes of the second half had been played when Watford were presented with a free-kick by the right touchline. Will Hughes swung the set piece into the area and, following a flick-on, the ball landed at the feet of Sarr. He hit a shot and, as had been the case at Anfield, it was poorly executed on the part of the 21-year-old Senegalese. De Gea seemed set for an easy catch at his near post but instead the ball squirmed through the Spaniard’s hands like a bar of soap and dropped into the net.
De Gea could do little about the second, scored by Deeney from the penalty spot just three minutes later. Again it was Sarr causing problems, surging between two United defenders before he was cleaned out by the sliding Wan-Bissaka. There could be no doubt about the decision and Deeney calmly struck his first goal of an injury-ravaged season.
The first half is tight and scruffy, and United get the better of the chances through Martial, who slips a shot wide, and Lingard, who is played through when a worryingly simple ball over the top peels us open. His lob is too high. Perhaps that was a break for Nige, the break that Quique didn’t get when Craig Dawson didn’t score his late header against Sheffield United. But we look tough and emboldened and up for this, and if the lingering concern is that we still aren’t creating an awful lot then that kicking of opponents up in the air mentioned previously, abetted by a tolerant performance by Lee Mason, is providing entertainment value.
Six minutes into the second half and, suddenly, all was right with the world again. A free kick from Hughes was met by Sarr who tried to hit the top corner, de Gea looked to have it covered, but the ball went through his hands and hit the net, sending the Rookery into raptures, apart from two rather gloomy blokes sitting just behind me. The visitors had an immediate chance to break back, but the header from McTominay was straight at Ben Foster. Instead, a foray by Sarr into the United box was stopped by Wan-Bissaka and the referee pointed to the spot. It appeared to be a nailed-on penalty, but I was still holding my breath while the VAR check went on. “Decision Penalty” had to be the best news of the afternoon.