Category: March

13th March 2020- Suspension of the Premier League until April

In the week after our game with Crystal Palace the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak that had started in January and had rapidly spread around the world started to effect football in England. Nottingham Forest’s owner tested positive followed two days later by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. Three Leicester players reported symptoms and at a meeting of the Premier League on 13th March it was agreed to postpone all remaining games until April. It was the first time football had been suspended since the Second World War.

Before the decision was announced Nigel Pearson gave his usual pre-match press conference ahead of our planned game with Leicester which was due to be played on 15th March.

Club Statement: COVID-19

7th March 2020- Premier League, Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0

Referee: Anthony Taylor
Attendance: 25,461

Match Report: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford

Pearson: “We’ll Bounce Back”

Watford lose by one goal away at Crystal Palace

Jordan Ayew goal condemns Watford to Crystal Palace defeat

Nigel Pearson’s laments Watford’s missed chances in Crystal Palace defeat

Watford players rated after Crystal Palace defeat

Craig Cathcart felt Watford deserved points in Crystal Palace defeat

Cathcart insists Watford are still confident after Crystal Palace defeat

Crystal Palace recorded a third successive Premier League victory as they beat relegation-threatened Watford to climb into the top half of the table.

In a bitty and niggly encounter with eight yellow cards, including one for Wilfried Zaha who was in the thick of things not for the first time against Watford, Jordan Ayew’s stunning first-half goal (28) separated the teams.

The match had begun in the style of two zealously polite individuals standing in a doorway; after you, sir; no, please, after you. With both teams preferring to counterattack, neither really wanted the ball. For a while this suited Watford better as they created the early chances. But the clarity they showed in driving forward was not matched by decisiveness in front of goal.

So, after the euphoria of last week, this was an unwelcome return to what has been the reality of most of this season.  It was a very disappointing game.  The Hornets had been the better team for most of the first half but, as so often this season, did not make the most of their chances and the home side scored after a counterattack.  Once they were ahead, Palace defended well and, apart from a brief spell in the second half, Watford never really looked like winning the point that their performance deserved.  Thankfully results elsewhere meant that we stayed out of the relegation zone on goal difference, but it felt like a wasted opportunity and, again, I worry that we won’t get the points that we need from the upcoming “winnable” games.

The morning after Watford visited Selhurst, Jon, Mike and Colin (via Skype on a train) discuss the inclusion of Roberto Pererya on the left, how the team could break down teams better and if there is much need for tinkering… Oh and corners. Plus they share their thoughts and worries about a potential new stadium for the Hornets, as reported by Adam Leventhal on the Athletic this week.

30th March 2019- Premier League, Manchester United 2 Watford 1

Referee:
Stuart Attwell
Attendance:
74,543
Goal 1

Doucouré: “We Dominated”

Match Report: Manchester United 2-1 Watford

Gracia: “It’s Difficult To Explain”

Deeney: “We Controlled The Game”

Foster: “We Need To Believe In Ourselves More”

Highlights: Manchester United 2-1 Watford

Watford score late goal against Manchester United, but can’t prevent the defeat

Fine Watford display ends with harsh Manchester United defeat

Manchester United vs Watford: Javi Gracia believes defeat was due to details

Watford players’ performances rated after Manchester United defeat

A selection of images from Watford’s narrow Manchester United defeat

Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends Watford after ‘disrespectful’ comments by journalist

Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster said the team are not afraid of facing anyone

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in permanent charge of United was far from comfortable as Watford dominated for large periods and had 20 shots compared to eight from the home side.

The victory was harsh on the visitors, who dominated possession for long periods and had superior chances, but it lifts United into fourth place above Arsenal, who play on Monday.

United certainly do the counter punch well, and the game’s highlight was a sublime pass from Shaw for Rashford’s goal, but Watford had 20 shots all told and as many on target – eight – as their opponents had efforts at all.

“It is difficult to explain because I think we had a good performance,” said Gracia.

We were absolutely fabulous, to a man and from the very off.  Not least the “reserves” at the back;  Janmaat, only arguably a downgrade on Kiko in any case, and the dogged, focused Adam Masina in comfortably the best I’ve seen him in a Watford shirt rampaged up the wings.  Miguel Britos has been unfairly demonised over the last twelve months, splendid that if he is to return to Uruguay in the summer as trailed it’ll be on the back of thoroughly solid, competent displays like this.  And Christian Kabasele… he’s good at the stuff he’s good at, the brainfarts are what lets him down there was none of that today.  Aggressive, disciplined defending, as aggressive in fact as any situation permitted, often quite enjoyably so.

Despite their disappointment at the defeat, the travelling Hornets roared their appreciation of the team’s performance with the songs reaching a crescendo as Gracia came over to applaud the crowd.  It had been a tremendous performance by the Watford lads.  It isn’t often that you play away against one of the top six and find the home team playing a defensive game hoping to score on the break.  The Watford midfield ran the game and, in a season in which Capoue and Doucouré have excelled on a weekly basis, it was great to see Hughes put in a superb performance.

16th March 2019- FA Cup Sixth Round, Watford 2 Crystal Palace 1

Referee:
Kevin Friend
Attendance:
18,104
1-0
2-1

FA Cup Report: Watford 2-1 Crystal Palace

Gomes: “I Feel So Proud”

Gray: “A Little Bit More Special”

Gracia: “It’s Something Amazing For Us”

Gallery: Watford v Crystal Palace

Affleck’s Angle: Deulofeu’s Determined Defence

Watford and Crystal Palace going head to head in FA Cup quarter final

Gracia On Gray: “I Am Happy For Him”

Watford beat Crystal Palace in FA Cup quarter-finals thanks to Andre Gray winner

Watford vs Crystal Palace: Javi Gracia praises Heurelho Gomes after FA Cup quarter-final triumph

Watford vs Crystal Palace: Javi Gracia stresses the Hornets’ strength as a team

Adrian Mariappa says Watford are not getting carried away over FA Cup semi-final

Andre Gray said his goal for Watford against Crystal Palace was ‘special’

Second-half substitute Andre Gray scored two minutes after coming on to send Watford into the FA Cup semi-finals with victory over Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road.

Gray’s goal 11 minutes from time booked Watford’s place at Wembley for the second time in four years after a passionate quarter-final at Vicarage Road, which the hosts were good value for edging. They took advantage of increasing first-half momentum to move ahead on the half-hour when Etienne Capoue was teed up by Craig Cathcart after Vincent Guiata missed a punch from a corner. But Michy Batshuayi then levelled after half-time following a horrible mistake from Adrian Mariappa.

As it happened

Nearly 35 years since their solitary appearance in the FA Cup final under Graham Taylor, Watford now have the chance under Gracia to emulate that famous side by reaching the Wembley showpiece match in May for a second time. The Spaniard’s name reverberated around the stadium at the final whistle as the veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes – who is planning to take up a new career as a pastor at the end of the season – wept tears of joy. “When the team was suffering in the second half they were very important for the team,” Gracia said of his club’s fans. “I think they really lifted our players.”

It had been a long time coming, but finally Watford have their revenge. After losing to Crystal Palace in the 2013 Championship play-off final and the 2016 FA Cup semi-final, they have made it past their bogey team. As the crowd sang loud at the final whistle, Javi Gracia’s side are on their way to Wembley. And in the process they have consigned Roy Hodgson to another season without an FA Cup semi-final appearance.

The tide of confidence was rolling by 11.15. That’s when “it’s bloody Palace, isn’t it?” was swept over and crushed. But in effect the build up to that wave, the little ripples, started at least a week earlier as Palace lost to Brighton, Southampton and Newcastle earned unlikely wins and the Eagles started looking over their shoulders again. So when Zaha pulled a calf muscle in training it was never going to be risked.

The 1881 had put incredible efforts into making sure that there would be a tremendous atmosphere.  When we took our seats, the ground was already full of people waving flags.  The big screen was showing footage of earlier quarter-finals.  I enjoyed watching John Barnes lobbing Tony Coton in 1984, but it is the Arsenal game in 1987 that always comes to mind.  I loved that day out at Highbury.

Prior to the game there was a lot of talk about Watford refusing to give Crystal Palace fans the entire Vicarage Road End and instead allocate them the absolute minimum number of tickets they could. This involved a lot of netting having to be put out in the stand…

Watford’s road to the FA Cup final: Andre Gray strike beats Crystal Palace in quarter-final

On this day in pictures: Watford beat Crystal Palace to reach FA Cup semi-final