Player Ratings: Watford 1-0 Newcastle United

Jacob Culshaw analyses each Watford players’ contribution during the 1-0 win over Newcastle United in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at Vicarage Road, giving each one a rating out of 10.

Heurelho Gomes

Gomes was calm and collected when called into action and kept Watford in the game with a number of crucial saves. 8/10

Allan Nyom

Nyom had a relatively quiet afternoon at Vicarage Road and was guilty of letting Newcastle wing-back Kevin Mbabu cut inside to shoot on a couple of occasions. Average performance. 6

Sebastian Prödl

An accomplished performance from Prödl who replaced Britos in Quique Sanchez Flores’ starting line-up. He won a lot of headers and didn’t really give Newcastle a sniff at goal in the second period. 7.5

Craig Cathcart

It seems as though Cathcart has lacked composure since his mistake during the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham. The Northern Ireland international has been solid all season, rightfully earning himself the title ‘Mr Reliable’, however he’s looked more and more nervous at the back in recent games. Twice in the first half he gifted the Magpies possession and perhaps better opposition would have punished his mistakes. I think Cathcart could do with a break. 6

Jose Holebas

After deputising for the banned Nathan Ake over the Christmas period, Holebas looked knackered throughout this on. Like Cathcart, could do with a break although he hasn’t done much to cement a place in the Chelsea loanee’s absence. 6

Steven Berghuis

A dismal performance from the summer signing who appeared, on the face of it, to lack any sort of fight to earn his place in this Watford team. Was more interested by the criticism hold of him from other teammates believe getting on with the job and marking his man. In fairness the game was not set up for Berghuis: awful weather and an awful pitch but he’s not going to get many more chances to prove himself this season. 5

Ben Watson

Every week Watson turns in a solid performance and this one was no exception. He got the hornets out of trouble on several occasions, mopping up some mistakes from his defensive team-mates on a number of occasions. Watson asserts him self as one of the most experienced players in the team and I wouldn’t of thought I’d be saying that when he joined the club. 7.5

Adlene Guedioura

Guedioura was certainly trying to prove a point to Flores by putting in a good shift: chasing down every lost cause in the midfield and working well with Watson in the middle of the park. He covered lots of ground throughout the game and putting in some hard challenges which I feel we lack at times. 7.5

José Manuel Jurado

Much like Berghuis, the game wasn’t really set up for flair players such as Jurado; it was a game to get the job done considering the conditions. He was guilty of trying to do too much at times. 5.5

Troy Deeney

A top performance from the captain who hasn’t started many games without his strike partner Odion Ighalo alongside him in recent months. Deeney was the difference between two teams who both lacked creativity and his well-taken  goal ultimately proved to be the winner. Used his size and strength to bully Newcastle defender Jamal Lascelles in the second half. 8

Obbi Oulare

A decent debut game for the young Belgian who put himself about every opportunity. Oulare won a couple of headers and did his best to bring others into play. Sometimes lacks touch but that will come given time to acclimatise to his new surroundings. 6

Substitutes

Ikechi Anya

Anya was a breath of fresh air after coming on and was willing to run at the defenders which Berghuis and Jurado certainly lacked. 7

Almen Abdi

Abdi solidified the side after coming on and ran up and down the flanks tirelessly. Looked to help out his team-mates at every opportunity. 6.5

Odion Ighalo

Ighalo came on with 15 minutes to go and held up the ball nicely, helping Watford secure a passage into the fourth round of the FA Cup. 6.5

Player Ratings: Watford 3-0 Liverpool

Jacob Culshaw analyses each Watford players’ contribution during the 3-0 win over Liverpool at Vicarage Road, giving each one a rating out of 10.

Heurelho Gomes

Gomes didn’t himself in a bad light in front of the Sky Sports cameras, claiming a number of crosses to ease the pressure on the Hornets’ back line. The goalkeeper make a good save to deny Jordan Henderson early in the second half and was continuously reliable throughout. 7.5/10

Allan Nyom

Nyom did well defensively and made some great surging runs forward when given the opportunity; something he clearly enjoys doing! Held a great line with his team-mates too as Liverpool were caught of side on a number of occasions. 8

Miguel Britos

Much like his partner in the heart of the Watford defence, Britos is asserting himself as a Premier League defender and looked assured all afternoon against the Reds. The Uruguayan seemed to relish the physical battle against substitute Christian Benteke. 8

Craig Cathcart

Cathcart has been one of the Hornets’ best and most reliable defenders this season. The Northern Ireland international hasn’t put a foot wrong for a while – with the Liverpool game being no exception – and has formed an impressive pairing with Britos at the back. 8

Nathan Ake

Ake looks to be a real prospect and has already displayed great maturity at such a young age. His early goal got Watford going and as ever the Dutchman again displayed his class to the Vicarage Road faithful. The Hornets came under threat early in the second half but Ake showed superb concentration not to dive in or make a rash challenge. Sign him up, Quique! 8.5

Jose Manuel Jurado

Solid game for the Spaniard making a couple of incisive runs towards the penalty area and feeding some tidy balls in to the Liverpool penalty. Jurado looked a bit lazy on occasions but, like Abdi on the other side, put a good shift in. 7.5

Etienne Capoue

When Watford committed men forward it was Capoue who was the most progressive midfielder, with him at the forefront of most of the pressing, robbing midfielders and breaking away – something which has become a regular occurrence throughout this campaign. A prime example of this was for the Hornets’ third goal as Capoue stole possession and laid it off to Behrami who provided it on a plate for Ighalo to make it 3-0. 8

Ben Watson

A favourite of Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores, Watson broke up play throughout the afternoon by sitting in front of the back four. His strong partnership with Capoue means that fit-again Behrami may struggle to win back his place in the starting 11.  8

Almen Abdi

A very disciplined performance from Abdi who went about his work in a quiet fashion, doing the dirty work for the Hornets which, in hindsight, was vital for his side in picking up the three points. Although didn’t possess much attacking wise, he put in a real shift today. 7.5

Troy Deeney

Hassled the back four tirelessly and displayed an eye for a pass too by creating Ighalo’s second goal with a fine ball over the top of the Liverpool defence. 9 MOTM

Odion Ighalo

The ever reliable goal-scorer is on fire. A world-class finish for the opening goal, shrugging of Skrtel and finishing from that angle was truly impressive and his second, which was delivered on a plate by substitute Behrami, capped another fantastic day for the Nigerian. 8.5

Substitutes

Behrami

Cracking ball to Ighalo who couldn’t miss, should he play instead of Abdi? Flores certainly has a selection dilemma on his hands. 6.5

Player Ratings: Watford v Arsenal

Jacob Culshaw analyses each Watford players’ contribution during the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at Vicarage Road, giving each one a rating out of 10.

Gomes

Although the score line may reflect a different story, Gomes didn’t paint himself in a bad light in front of the Sky cameras. His save from Alexis Sanchez early in the first half provided his first test in the game and he dealt with the situation well. Little he could do to keep about the Gunners’ goals. 6.5/10

Nyom

Solid evening and likes get forward at every opportunity overlapping Anya. He can get somewhat over enthusiastic with his challenges (bordering on reckless in the Palace game), but was issued a harsh yellow card. He kept Sanchez at bay in the first half but became isolated in the second period as Sanchez continued to run down his flank. 6.5

Prodl

Having conceded three goals in twelve minutes, both centre backs will not be pleased with their performances. In the first hour the former Wolfsburg man looked solid but fatigue clearly kicked in towards the end of the game. 6

Cathcart

After scoring his first international goal for Northern Ireland this week, it was a quiet re-introduction to the Premier League for the defender who, like Prodl, was very solid the first hour. As soon as the first goal went in, the defence started to look brittle under every Arsenal attack. 6

Ake

Looks to be a real prospect with him already showing great maturity and at such a young age. He showed glimmers of what he could do in the last 20 minutes of the Palace game and gave a good account of himself with his strength power and pace. In this one, however, Bellerin (one of the fastest players in the league) gave him a run for his money on the right-hand side. He found it difficult, especially in the second half, to keep Arsenal at bay. 6

Anya

A tentative display after coming back from a calf niggle. Anya worked well with Nyom and did get in behind the Arsenal defence on a couple of occasions. His decision-making was good but unfortunately nothing came of it. Great work rate, like many of the Hornets players did tire towards the end but didn’t give up. 6

Capoue

Best player on the pitch for the first hour, but the formation Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores played meant Watson and Capoue had to ‘stick or twist’ on a couple of occasions. When Watford committed men forward it was Capoue who was the most progressive midfielder. 7.5

Watson

By playing in front of the back four, Watson made some great winning challenges in the middle of the park before laying possession off to more creative outlets such as Capoue his midfield partner. I think we can all agree that he’s limited as a creative player and goals are unlikely to come from this source. 6

Abdi

On his 100th Hornets’ appearance, there was not much to smile about for the Swiss playmaker. It pains me to say it but Abdi physically didn’t look capable playing at this level and, in my opinion, Flores should have started with a natural winger. 5.5

Deeney

Worked hard for the cause. Out-muscled Bellerin in the first half which summed his best attributes. Chased down every lost cause and did his best to provide ammunition for Ighalo. His rising first-half strike kept Petr Cech on his toes. The first goal is coming Troy, don’t worry. 7

Ighalo

The reliable goal-scorer had an off day culminating with him spurning two good opportunities. Ighalo didn’t match with Deeney’s work-rate and would have been substituted had we had another striker on the bench, I feel. 5

Substitutes

Berghuis

It’s been a tricky start for the new boy adapting to the premier league but if this cameo is anything to go by, his career won’t last long in England. Everything he tried to do went wrong, and lost the ball on several occasions. Good job the game was over by this time otherwise it would have been more painful. 4

Ibarbo

Is there any proof that he actually come on? Anonymous. N/A

Player Ratings: Watford v Crystal Palace

Jacob Culshaw analyses each Watford players’ contribution during the 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on Sunday, giving each one a rating out of 10.

Heurelho Gomes: Again reassured the Hornets faithful that he is not afraid to rush off his line to clear danger, especially in the first half. The Brazilian was fortunate that Gayle’s deflected shot hit the post rather the back of the net but could do little to stop Cabaye’s powerful penalty. 6.5/10

Allan Nyom: Struggled with the pace of Sako, eventually tired and the turning point of the came when Sako’s replacement Zaha tempted Nyom into a lunge on the former Manchester United man. It was clearly a foul but whether contact was made in the box was doubtful. Tough afternoon for the right-back. 5.5

Craig Cathcart: Another solid performance; Cathcart had a busy afternoon and tested with the pace of the Palace front men. Showed his class in the air dealing with Palace’s aerial attack and crucially deflected Gayle’s goal bound shot onto the crossbar. 7

Sebastian Prödl: Restricted Palace’s chances and forms a fantastic partnership with Cathcart in the middle. He counteracted his lack of pace with some astute defensive positioning. 7

Ikechi Anya: Ever versatile, played left-back and right-back but failed to make as big an impact as the home games against Swansea and Southampton. The Scotland international crossed a few decent balls in to the box after surging forward a number of times but faded in the second half. 6.5

Almen Abdi: Not great today cautioned for a foul on Bolasie in the 38th minute which hindered his free flowing style, making him very wary of tackling and conceding a second yellow. Should have been swapped for Guedioura early in the first half. Both he and Jurado need to practice crossing and avoiding the first man. 5.5

Etienne Capoue: Looked out of sorts in the middle of the park and appeared tp be missing the insurance of Behrami. Capoue did well to restrict his fellow Frenchman Cabaye in the first half but kept giving away cheap fouls; he also failed to make the most of serveral opportunities to shoot. 5.5

Ben Watson: Watson clearly looked in some discomfort with a wrist injury sustained in the first half. For 20 minutes he was played with his left arm which hung limply by his side and this clearly affected his mobility. Carried on gamely but didn’t offer much. 6

Jose Jurado: It seems as though the diminutive Spaniard is adapting to the physicality of the Premier League with wanting to get stuck in more than in previous games where he’s looked lightweight. He was unfortunate to see his well-hit free kick to strike the underside of the crossbar, however failed to beat the first man numerous times at other set pieces. The Palace defence stood off him as he clearly poses a threat with his pace and trickery but, like Abdi, his crosses generally lead to nothing. 6.5

Troy Deeney: Dominated by Palace defence and more-often-than-not strayed into wider areas to get the ball, leaving Ighalo isolated. Watford’s captain has great chemistry with his strike partner Ighalo but today nothing came of it. Industrious but ineffective. 6

Odion Ighalo: for a small man, the Nigerian showed how to compete and be physical with the taller defenders. However, Palace defended well against him and both he and Deeney had to feed of scraps and became isolated up front as the game wore on. 6

Substitutes

Steven Berghuis: Failed to make any real impact apart from successfully shanking two crosses into the first man and over hitting one into the Rookery. Looks like the new signing is still trying to adapt to the English game.

Nathan Ake: The Chelsea loanee – like Chabolah before him – looks a quality asset. He was involved immediately when he came on for Nyom as left-back (with Anya moving to the right-hand side). His questionable hairstyle belied his physical and technical ability. I suspect it may just be a matter of time before see him in the starting eleven.

Victor Ibarbo: Great reception on his debut but that’s about it for the Colombian who failed to make an impression with his limited minutes.

Pozzos’ track record demands trust in their transfer policy

In the end, time will tell.

Time will tell whether moving on from several promotion-winning heroes was the way to go. Whether Gabriele Angella’s refusal to talk of the club he so passionately served is a warning sign. Whether Matej Vydra’s forlorn wave to the adoring travelling contingent at the Etihad was more than just a sign of appreciation. Whether a side-story exists to there being no official farewell to Daniel Tozser. Whether Fernando Forestieri’s tears were for a club who have gone one step too far in their ruthless pursuit of glory.

Time will tell whether the country’s fifth-highest net-spenders have discovered ground that no promoted team dare venture before. Whether the relentless search for new foreign gems was the fated route for a club which has hardly done it the conventional way. Whether brutality and heart-break is a soon-to-be-forgotten by-product of a regime which has the success of Watford Football Club at the heart of its every move.

The reconstruction of a squad which held a truly loving connection with its fan base, was always going to be hard to take. For many, to see Vydra and Troy Deeney attack Premier League defenders with the vigour they have shown in two of the last three years was the prize. To witness Almen Abdi sweeping forward on the counter-attack, Ikechi Anya galloping at twice the speed outside him, in the top tier was what we celebrated in Brighton back in April.

But ultimately, a change in division and a change in coaching staff bring yet more change.

Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, haven’t got it wrong very often; Udinese qualified for Europe, Granada ended up in La Liga and little old Watford are in the Premier League.

Three years ago, a similar demolition of the playing squad produced famous consequences. Over three years, really not long for a club drowning in the Championship to turn up in the Premier League, they found the promotion-winning formula.

And we’d do well to remember the events of that summer.

Similar accusations of ripping the soul out of the squad, of ruining ‘everything’ good to do with the club, were thrown around. They hadn’t.

And it really is unlikely that the Pozzos have done so this time, either. Who’d have believed that Fernando Forestieri leaving Watford would bring a tear to your eye, when he became the 16th summer signing on 31st August 2012? Players move on and there’s every chance Victor Ibarbo will be our new hero by November.

Ultimately the owners are good at what they do. They targeted promotion within three years. Done it. Forgotten it. Moved on. What needs to be done to survive amongst the vultures?

A change in head coach, a change in playing style and, therefore, a change in feel… we were, after all, warned not to get too attached to players.

Who knows? If it all capitulates then perhaps we can turn around a point a finger. There’s no justification in doing so just yet, though. Time will tell.

And let’s remember, we wanted to be in this league. This is the reward. And we’ve been led there by an Italian family who, by and large, have known exactly what they are doing.

Nothing’s really gone wrong yet… surely they’ve earned our trust again?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!