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


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!

Deadline Day: Belgian forward has Watford medical

Club Brugge forward Obbi Oulare is set to join Watford on a season-long loan, according to Sky Sports.

The Hornets also have the option to make Oulare’s switch permanent; he’s valued at around €7 million.

The 19-year-old featured for Club Brugge in their Champions League qualifier against Manchester United last month, but has fallen out with head coach Michel Preud’homme.

Watford reportedly faced competition for his signature from Queens Park Rangers, West Ham United and Wolves.

Deadline Day: Doucoure, Ibarbo in, Angella, Vydra out?

Watford are expected to be one of the Premier League’s busiest side’s on deadline day – with at least two signings imminent -while a number of players are set to leave the club.

The Hornets are set to seal a £7 million move for Rennes midifielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who has been capped by France at Under-21 level, reportedly drew interest from Chelsea last summer and is set to undergo a medical before today’s transfer deadline.

Also due to undergo a medical today is AS Roma forward Victor Ibarbo.

The Colombia international has, according to Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, agreed personal terms ahead of a medical this morning.

Gabrielle Angella, Matej Vydra and Essaid Belkalem are expected to follow Miguel Layun out of Vicarage Road today, while Juan Carlos Paredes is another name thought to be surplus to requirements.

Watford have accepted a £6 million offer from Sheffield Wednesday for Vydra, according to reports, leaving the Czech Republic international free to join up with former team-mates Fernando Forestieri, Daniel Pudil and Lewis McGugan.

Meanwhile, Gabriele Angella will complete a move to Queens Park Rangers, subject to a medical, as reported by West London Sport.

More to follow…

Deadline Day: Layun leaves Watford for Porto

Watford midfielder Miguel Layun has joined FC Porto on a season-long loan deal.

Porto also have the option to to by the 27-year-old for a fee of €6 million.

Layun, who can play on the left-hand side of defence or in the midfield, joined Watford from Granada in January and made a total of 17 appearances as the Hornets won promotion to the Premier League.

The Mexico international scored the Vicarage Road outfit’s opening goal of the Premier League season as they drew 2-2 at Everton.

Layun told Porto’s official website: “I feel great, happy to be here and to be part of this great team, that is used to fighting for the biggest goals, due to their greatness.

“I am eager to start training, to be at the same level as my teammates and to fight for a spot in the starting team.”