Fran’s Watford Blog: This was a very good showing from the Hornets. Some of the passing from the back can be scary, but when it is executed well it is a joy to watch. João Pedro was absolutely magnificent, he was everywhere. Sarr put in a decent showing and was good value for the goal. The defence were well organised, and it was good to see Gaspar put in a decent shift. Finally we are seeing some consistency from this team, they are working hard and playing as a team. They are doing the dirty work, closing down the opposition, but also showing some great skill going forward. The chants of “sexy football” were well merited.
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.
Leicester City recorded their 14th win from 19 games this season by beating Watford at Vicarage Road. The visitors took an early lead when a clearance by Watford keeper Manuel Almunia hit Chris Wood in the face and rebounded into the net.
The build-up to the match was dominated by memories of last season’s dramatic final day clash at Vicarage Road, when Knockaert’s missed penalty proved costly as Troy Deeney netted the winner down the other end, meaning the Foxes missed out on the play-off final.
You could see this coming from several miles – and months – away. Frankly, I’d braced myself for a season’s worth of this back in August. Has there ever been a campaign in the club’s history when the current level of expectation has ended in something other than a train wreck? Certainly not in the Premier League era, when expectation has generally been accompanied by foolhardy over-spending, weighing up the cost of not getting promoted as if it were tangible on the balance sheet, and followed by a grand washing-of-hands by the supporters who demanded it. “Yeah, but we didn’t mean Nathan Ellington.”
Bad luck tends to follow swiftly on the heels of manager-of-the-month awards. For Ray Lewington, a home draw against the might of an ever-improving Wolves side may have felt like a defeat but third place in the First Division should be sufficient consolation.
Here, everything that we’ve achieved so far was to be tested. For the first time since our unbeaten start to the 2000/01 season, we were defending a place in the top six against one of the First Division heavyweights, in form and ready to take us down a peg or three. This was something different, a new challenge.
BSAD report: All in all, Saturday went well. The day started badly – I missed my bus to Watford, and so the first ten minutes of the match – but after that things looked up. A lot. By the time I arrived, as I say, things were already underway, and this meant that I didnšt know who was actually playing; this proved rather amusing when I praised a Devon White layoff aloud only to be told by the person next to me that it was actually a Gifton Noel-Williams layoff. He was very nice about it.