This was awful. If I was a die hard Hornet the result and performance would have probably ruined my weekend. As it was, I left the Vic with the Witch wondering if the wheels had come off Watford’s season. And that left me a tad upset, to be honest.
Leicester are a decent team, make no mistake, but this was a self inflicted defeat and too many players were below par. And of course there is something missing from the team this season, let’s face up to that. Chalobah, Hogg and Vydra haven’t been adequately replaced, Abdi’s absence due to injury leaves a gaping hole in midfield and Deeney is a shadow of the player he was last season (aside from the Bournemouth hat trick).
It was nice to relive last season’s play off semi final victory before kick off (especially the re-enactment on the pitch by mischievous mascot Harry the Hornet) but it did feel a bit like dwelling on the past. And did Leicester need any more motivation to try and avenge that defeat?
Yes, the first Leicester goal was ludicrous but it was a mistake by Almunia nonetheless. If a 6 ft 3 inch striker is lumbering towards you, it’s probably a good idea to hoof the ball upfield with a bit less casual nonchalance than Manu showed. The second goal was down to Doyley (of all people), who was at fault for letting Schlupp dash into the box from the left before crossing for the inevitable redemptive goal from Knockaert. I love Cassetti but as soon as I saw that he was the man who stood between Dyer and a free run at goal I knew Watford were in trouble again.
Not that it was all about the defensive lapses, the performance in general was poor and devoid of passion (perhaps apart from Forestieri) and the eventual defeat was well deserved. McGugan continues to be an enigma for me. Yes, he had two good strikes on goal in quick succession in the first half but he lost possession easily and was not nearly combative or creative enough. Was Battochio not an option to bring on? At least Sean Murray was spared further misery by being subbed at half time for Fabbrini. The Italian brought much needed urgency and mobility to the front line and did contribute to a better second 45 mins, with a few chances for Deeney, Anya and Forestieri, althought all were spurned.
I’m not sure what is going to happen next. Abdi’s return is bound to help but I can’t see that happening for a while. I’d like to see Fabbrini get a run of starts, perhaps with Forestieri dropping into the hole (instead of McGugan). Otherwise, I can’t see what is going to make a difference. A new striker in January perhaps? Zola’s certainly under pressure now, let’s see how he responds.