It had been so long since the last game at Vicarage Road that Jason said if felt like the first game of the season – “It’s been over a month away and we have a bunch of new signings to have a look at”.
Going into the game I was a little wary of Watford winning a convincingly. It was exactly what we need to get us back to the form we had in October and November, but Sheffield United aren’t normally an easy team to play – How wrong I was.
Watford started 4-4-2 with Landsbury up front with Helguson. This lead to a very scrappy first 25 minutes from both sides where neither seemed to know how to pass the ball along the ground. It wasn’t until Landsbury dropped deeper and we played 4-5-1 that Watford took control – and control we took. The midfield was dominated by Watford and with 5 in midfield it seemed that we out numbered them. We were breaking them down quickly, not letting them settle or play their game. The last 20 minutes of the first half were almost played exclusively in the Sheffield United half with Watford applying plenty of pressure.
All three goals came from mistakes and ill communication in the Sheffield United defence with Watford working those mistakes well to . Cleverly’s header on 39 minutes came from a nothing ball up field from debutant Taylor. The ball floated up with the Sheffield defence seeming to leave it while alone whilst the goal keeper came out. This left Cleverly with a clear header into an open goal. Helguson’s goal on 55 minutes was after a bad ball through the Sheffield defence. Helguson needed just one touch to stick it in the back of the net. 5 minutes later Cowie took a free kick near to the dug out. It wasn’t a power hit and it seemed to bounce into the goal unchallenged. I had thought that it got a touch off Martin Taylor, but apparently not. The 5 in midfield means we get control of the ball and the game a lot more and with players like Cowie, Landsbury and Cleverly we have the speed to run at teams and it turns into a 3 or 4 man attack very quickly – it’s exciting to watch. All of our 6 prong attack had great games, Hoskins a little quieter, but still he is coming on well – which is important for when we lose the loanees in the summer.
Defensively I felt a lot more comfortable – you can’t feel much else when you see a man the size of Martin Taylor walk out at the start of the game. He clearly had some ring rust at the start of the match. However, he settled in and he limited Darius Henderson. Having a strong man at Centre Back meant Mariappa was back at right back where he is far more effective. Malky will have some difficult decisions as to who he plays at Right Back – Hodson or Mariappa. Both still need the games to develop. Demerit was fine, and was certainly helped with the introduction of Taylor. Doyley had a positive game and was getting stuck into players a lot more. At times this season he has been a little too stand off for me. He also came close to goal number 2. He found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but alas it didn’t fall right for him. If he had then it would have been a great “strikers goal”.
So it was a great performance – Watford were back to playing the attractive, attacking passing game that made us shine a few months back. And a convincing 3-0 win will raise the confidence of the team no end.