I approached this game with a certain amount of trepidation. Three league wins in a row for Forest and not a single goal conceded. This would be a test for Watford, make no mistake.. I also had another perspective on things (funny that). Most Derby fans, even if they can bring themselves to think about Forest in a sort of impartial manner, can’t abide Billy Davies. I, personally, can’t stand the diminutive, charmless whinger. I also can’t bear the thought that Forest might be actually rather good this year. And god help us if they get promoted and Derby don’t.
A Watford perspective
Some things to be worried about but a point against promotion rivals shouldn’t be sniffed at and the Hornets are still unbeaten. However, there are some serious issues in central defence. For all Cassetti’s class, nonchalance and amazing beard, he was at fault for the Forest goal and also gifted Lansbury the shot which hit the post. Angella was also all over the shop at times, dispossessed easily and lax in his distribution. He made two poor mistakes against Miller late on and if you have trouble coping with him, there is something not right in the world. Once Ekstrand and the Belkalem are fit, I can see a different central three lining up in future. Maybe Angella will be better with more solidity around him.
Fabbrini and Anya were Watford’s only threats in the first half. Fabbrini’s movement was excellent, very mobile across the edge of the penalty area and always willing to receive the ball, turn and attack. Fell over a lot though. Anya was his usual pacy, tricky self but his crosses regularly failed to pick out Watford players in the box. McGugan’s free kick was, of course, stupendous but apart from another shot he had shortly afterwards, I can’t recall him having much influence.
Deeney? There’s something wrong there. He had a good chance to score with a header but flashed it well wide. He generally looked a shadow of the player he normally is. Zola’s certainly remarked on this, has said he needs more from Deeney but what’s the solution? Perhaps he’ll settle down after the transfer window closes.
Almunia kept Watford in the game with several fine saves, particular the one he pushed onto the post from Miller late on. Man of the match for many but I thought Fabbrini deserved that particular honour. But I think I’m a bit biased, I’ve massively liked him since the Granada friendly.
A Derby perspective
Forest were good but not as much as I feared. Organised, effective and hard working of course, as you’d expect from a side managed by HIM. And dirty, they deserved all the yellow cards they got and more (did the ref forget his cards in the first half?) Is the nastiness a Billy Davies thing? Not necessarily, there was plenty of hacking going on in the same fixture last season when the sainted Sean O’Driscoll was in charge..
Forest have clearly got some quality in the side. Darlow is solid in goal, Hobbs and Wilson are your archetypal powerful Championship centre halves and there is certainly guile and skill in midfield, which I’m led to believe is some sort of fluid diamond formation. Obviously, copied from Derby.
I think they’re lacking a bit up front. The big money signing, Jamie Mackie, looked no more than an ungainly skuffler and what about Halford? Playing a 6 foot 4 inch beanpole centre half as a striker? And Ishmael Miller? Seriously?
Anyway. An entertaining game, plenty of chances for both sides and a draw was probably the right result. Lots of things for Watford to work on and I would imagine Fawaz will be investing some money from his fridge/air conditioning business by buying a striker before the transfer window closes. A play off place is a near certainty for them.