Firstly I have to stress that I know it is only the first game of the season. Thus it may be a bit early to draw conclusions just yet given the small sample size. However, I believe Watford fans can see the intent from new manager Quique Sanchez Flores by looking at his first competitive fixture in charge.
What I picked up from the Watford vs Everton game, especially from the first half, was the intent to put the pressure on. When Watford were off the ball in the first half they were very energetic and quick to close down the Everton players in order to not allow time or space on the ball. I am a big fan of pressuring a team when off the ball and I don’t think I have seen many better examples of the Hornets doing that.
Although, in the second half Everton did find more space, which is understandable given that it is only the first game of the season. But hopefully with more match fitness Watford will be able to replicate what they did in the first half for most of the match.
As expected Flores’ side started with the 4-2-3-1 formation, like they had for most of pre-season. This worked very well in practice, especially with the new philosophy that Flores has brought to the club. It seemed to allow for the right balance in defence and going forward, which lead to many fans being impressed by how the Hornets started the season.
Lone striker role
With the 4-2-3-1 formation there is only one striker, which has been a cause for concern among Watford fans. Troy Deeney has done well in the past linking up with his strike partner and some felt he would be uncomfortable in the lone striker role. I feel Deeney adapted to his role quite well at Goodison Park, he won a fair few headers, being the target for any long balls and held up the ball quite well. I was most impressed with how he linked up with the attacking midfielders at times, especially with the very quick Ikechi Anya who almost got onto the end of a couple of Deeney’s passes. Although yes at times Deeney was a bit isolated, that is expected when the team need to have players back to defend.
In all it was quite encouraging and the pass into Anya I think will be a real threat.
I have spoken about the side pressuring the opposition and the two defensive midfielders Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami did this very well. Both helped out the back 4 when they were in trouble by shutting down other options or closing down a man. It was good to see and it’s fair to say those two had quite a good game in the first half.
Lastly the two full backs deserve a mention Jose Holebas and Allan Nyom who many Watford fans have already taken a liking to. I was surprised given Nyom’s stocky build that he didn’t allow many Everton players to pass him and stood his ground quite well. From many years of experience viewing the Championship, usually that type of player sticks his leg out when a quick winger goes past him, which leads to a dangerous free kick or even a penalty. Nyom didn’t look in danger of doing that once.
Team gelling fears
Most commentators have said that Watford would finish rock bottom because they have signed too many players and the team wouldn’t be able to gel. Despite this in my opinion being quite a weak basis to predict Watford to finish at rock bottom it is fair to say that fans of the club were interested to see how the new signings would adapt. The encouraging thing was that it seemed as though the players gelled very quickly. Despite some people saying it would take most of the season, the Hornets seemed to play together quite well, as it looked like they all knew their job and positions in the new formation. It appeared as though they had played together for a long time.
To any fans who are worried about commentators saying the club have signed too many players. Counting just the summer upon their arrival to the Premier League Crystal Palace signed 14 players, Stoke signed 10 and Sunderland signed 9 and they all survived and ended up cemented their position in the Premier League in the coming years. Thus I wouldn’t worry about Watford signing 10 players this summer so far.