Watford 0 : Brighton & Hove Albion 0 – 26th August 2017

As nil nil draws go this was an entertaining spectacle. It had pretty much everything – a dramatic early sending off, two shots against the post in the first half from the little cheating crybaby/returning villain, followed by his ever desperate attempts to redeem himself & score the winner. A resolute rearguard action from Watford, which included a number of fantastic performances. And a cracking atmosphere too. Unbeaten after a three games & some very positive signs. What’s not to like?
The team news contained a couple of surprises. The hole left by Holebas was filled by Britos, with Kabasele slotting in at centre half. One of those players had a game of quiet brilliance & one disgraced himself. New loan signing, Andre Carillo, only made the bench, while Amrabat, surprisingly, retained his place in the side. I thought he was in the way out? There was no place for Hughes in the match day squad again. Not surprising really given the excellent form of Chalobah, Cleverley & Doucoure in the midfield. He’ll get his chance at some stage though.
I can’t recall much of the game before the 24th minute & that horrendous assault from Britos. He’d looked very uncomfortable at full back & Knockaert was giving him a few problems. Maybe that’s what caused him to lose his rag. Even far away in The Rookery, I could see it was an awful tackle. More of an assault really. I couldn’t quite believe what I’d seen & it left me muttering “unbelievable” to The Witch for the rest of the first half. Apart  from the fact that he ruined any chance of Watford winning the game, he could have crippled Knockaert. Shame on those Watford fans who tried to play it down.
I wouldn’t say Brighton dominated the game after that but they did have the preponderance of the chances. They’re clearly lacking in a Premier League-class  striker though. They can’t count on Knockaert as their main attacking threat for the rest of the season. Watford rode their look massively at times & had a few of their own chances (Chalobah’s long range shot stood out).
At the end, the Watford players reacted as if they’d won & the multiple man hugs at least demonstrated one thing. The team spirit under Silva is a different level to last season. Walter’s ramshackle bunch of unmotivated individuals would have lost this game easily.
So who played well?
Gomes – looked a bit hesitant in the first half but settled down in the second. Great save from a flashing shot across his goal which probably would have sneaked in the far corner.
Britos – obviously uncomfortable out wide  & the maniacal karate kick lunge on Knockaert surely makes him a liability from now on. How can Silva rely on him now? There are plenty other centre halfs in the squad..
Femenia – Neat & tidy, as ever & proved his worth even more when required to cover at left back later in the game.
Kabasele – magnificent. My man of the match. I was singing his praises to The Witch for most of the second half. He was pure class, making crucial interceptions & looking supremely confident on the ball. If he can keep this up, he’s got that centre half spot nailed down for the rest of the season.
Prodl – an absolute rock. His distribution isn’t brilliant but I’m much happier with him lumping balls forward than Kaboul.
Chalobah – covered every blade of grass & perfect as one half of the joint shielding players in front of the defence. I’ve been surprised about how well he got forward & threatened to score. Demonstrated that he fully deserved his England call up.
Doucoure – Simply brilliant in that shielding role alongside Chalobah. Mobile, robust in the tackle & skilful too. I’ve downloaded “that” song to my Spotify PlayList as well.
Cleverley – I felt he had a below average game actually. His distribution was pretty poor in midfield & was ponderous when filling in at right back. Skinned a few times. There is another option in the number ten role in the squad of course. Blonde hair, looks like Fido Dido?
Richarlison – another performance of rich promise. Put himself about a bit, won a multitude of free kicks & looked dangerous every time he ran at the Brighton defence. Works hard for the team too. Can’t believe he’s only twenty.
Amrabat – everyone’s fave “he’s not good enough for us at this level” player. Did well early doors & even managed to beat a full back & put in a decent cross, then reverted to type & became pretty average. Subbed when reorganising the formation became a priority. Ambled off the field – saying goodbye or just game management?
Gray – not the best of games & was ploughing a lone furrow to a certain extent but nothing seemed to go right for him. He’ll have better days but may be rotated with Deeney when he’s fit.
Cathcart – obviously an option at centre half or full back but pulling a muscle in the first few minutes of the second half was very reminiscent of a certern Janmaat.
Deeney – cheered to the rafters whenever he warmed up down the touchline & put himself about a bit when he came on. Not as mobile as he should be.
Carrillo – a hesitant start but not unexpected. One burst of pace late on but I’d expect him be warming the bench for a while until he acclimatises.
So there you go. Three games. Two “good” home draws & an excellent away win. A good start to the season.
Next game..? A return to Pride Park. Come on you Rams..

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