Player Ratings: Stevenage v Watford

Two games down – two wins and two clean sheets. Last night was hardly exhilarating stuff but the job was done and The Hornets now find themselves in the hat for Round Two of the Capital One Cup by virtue of a Lloyd Dyer second-half goal.

I take a look at each player’s performance in a little more detail…

Jonathan Bond

Another mixed night for Bond who at times combined the sublime with the ridiculous. His save in the second-half to preserve our lead was excellent and a defining moment in the game but he too often misjudged whether to come off his line, nearly allowing his opposition ‘keeper Sam Beasant a late equaliser.

On a night where we were linked with ex-AC Milan stopper Marco Amelia, the chances of Bond being allowed a desperately needed decent length of time out on loan increased. He did well enough here though – his rating boosted by that save.

7 (/10)

Lloyd Doyley

Doyley featured just long enough to show early signs of some decent link-up play with Diego Fabbrini before being removed due to a hamstring injury. If it proves to keep him out for a while, or even if it doesn’t, he sadly has his work cut out in attempts to feature consistently this season.

6

Gabriel Tamas

Another good effort by Tamas, one of the two trusted to start on both Saturday and Tuesday, who on one side of the coin was hardly threatened, but on the other, dealt with any threat with such a minimum of fuss that it appeared nothing.

Another very accomplished performance, and another clean sheet for the team. We could get used to that.

7.5

Tommie Hoban

Hoban was forced to play most of the game at right-back in the absence of Doyley and as has become familiar viewing, looked totally unruffled when faced with a new challenge. He is composed on the ball and has an excellent positional sense from which he can snuff out any danger (two traits which Doyley, for all his greatness, has always lacked).

If he’s going to struggle to break into the first XI then he will hope for a long cup run to give himself the game time he deserves.

8

Daniel Pudil

It’s hard enough to do these ratings every week and not become repetitive about any player, but with Pudil it really is nigh-on impossible. Not much else to say other than he was up and down the left-hand side all evening, making crucial interventions at one end and threatening with his left-foot at the other.

Another solid showing from the Czech international who is far and away the best left-sided player at the club right now.

7.5

Diego Fabbrini

Anyone who read our Forza Watford! 2014/15 predictions (shameless plug) will know that all contributors guessed Diego Fabbrini as the potential breakthrough player this season. Without wanting to get too carried away, this performance suggests that we are right.

Fabbrini was playing on a different planet to anyone else at times, his good work for the goal merely the tip of the iceberg. He frightened Stevenage whenever he got hold of the ball, using his deceptive pace and devastating trickery to flummox the ‘Boro back-line time after time. He appears to have adopted a new selfless outlook, epitomised by his square ball to Dyer for our only goal, but evidenced on numerous occasions.

If Fabbrini can’t get in our ‘league’ matchday squad then we must be absolutely unbelievably good because he is close to being a very special player. He needs to be at the very least on the bench on Saturday after a superb showing.

9 (MOTM)

Keith Andrews

Andrews’ playing style looks incredibly similar to John Eustace, typified by one curled ‘round the corner’ pass that Eustace had down to a tee back in the Mackay/Dyche days, and that was not the only strikingly similar attributes that the two share. The Irishman had the ability to shout and scream, to rally, and to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in; just as Captain John relished.

Daniel Tozser is the deserved first choice in the holding midfield role, but we have a very suitable reserve, who looks as though he will be excellent off the pitch as well.

7

Gianni Munari

Although I have seen comments that disagree, I felt that Munari struggled a little throughout. His effort can’t be faulted and he showed the odd sign of quality, but he never grabbed it by the scruff of the neck like at times we needed someone to do, and for a man his size looked lightweight.

Difficult to judge after one showing, and he should improve, but it was a bit of a laboured performance.

6

Lloyd Dyer

In a similar sense to Munari, Dyer really wasn’t in the game for the first 45 minutes. But after he had opened the scoring, the goal in itself proved how valuable his pace is on the counter-attack, he relished the space afforded to him by Stevenage’s attempts to find an equaliser.

On full debut, Dyer may fee he should have added to his tally when he struck the bar but his goal was the winner and he proved why he is going to play a big part this season.

7.5

Fernando Forestieri

Unfortunately, because who doesn’t will Forestieri to be brilliant, the forward had a little bit of an off-night. He improved a little in the second-half when he moved deeper in search of the ball, but he tended to play off the last man, a role which didn’t suit him, and his movement was virtually non-existent at times.

Not that he was awful, but when we know what Forestieri is capable of that kind of performance is frustrating.

6.5

Odion Ighalo

It’s easy to have left Stevenage last night and come to the assumption that Ighalo didn’t look ready for a bit of rough and tumble. But such an accusation would be a little lazy. Admittedly, he misplaced a few passes and took a bit of a beating from the host’s centre-halves but he also produced a few lovely moments of skill, not least in the build-up to the goal.

Moreover, I am not at all convinced that the role he was asked to play suited him. He was rarely played in behind, and when he was he threatened with his pace. He looked far less a ‘target man’ and far more someone who was dying to be partnered with a Deeney-type.

Hard to compare with Forestieri as his reference points are so different, but he gets the same rating as his partner by virtue of his sheer effort, albeit less of an end product.

6.5

Substitutes

Joel Ekstrand – Read Gabriel Tamas. Part of a defence which held on to a one-goal lead and has now contributed to two clean sheets. Hope rumours surfacing about a move to Cardiff are untrue after his start.

7.5

Sean Murray – Didn’t feature enough.

Matej Vydra – Didn’t feature enough.

Player Ratings: Watford v Bolton Wanderers

Watford kicked off their 2014-15 campaign in exciting style at Vicarage Road on Saturday as they dismantled Bolton Wanderers 3-0.

First-half goals from Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra put Beppe Sannino’s side in control before substitute Fernando Forestieri wrapped up the points late on.

After so many top personal performances, I take on the not so difficult job of rating each individual…

Heurelho Gomes

It’s not often that a goalkeeper can do very little more than spectate yet still have endeared himself to his faithful inside 45 minutes of a debut, but that is what Gomes managed here.

His manic goal celebrations were enough, but throw the authority of his area and his desire to rant and rave (Joel Ekstrand still has earache) in to the mix and you have yourself a fan’s favourite.

The Brazilian was called upon a little more in the second period, producing an outstanding save from a Lee-Chung-Young header, but even if he hadn’t, it would have been clear that we have a more than adequate Manuel Almunia replacement on our hands. An extremely encouraging debut.

7 (out of 10)

Gabriel Tamas

It’s fruitless to really analyse the defenders individually. We know that they all have talent, but a lack of consistency in selection and ability to defend as a unit was what cost us last season.

Tamas showed early signs of being able to treat that issue however. He was, if nothing more, solid and impenetrable, producing a couple of important last-ditch challenges, while his overly-optimistic jaunts forward were far less commonplace than against Udinese last Saturday.

Another decent debut, but the Romanian was hardly tested thoroughly and it will be the relationship that he can establish with the next two men that will dictate the success of his Watford career.

6.5

Joel Ekstrand

Having, in truth, disappointed last season, Ekstrand could have hardly wished for an easier afternoon in which to force his way back into the Vicarage Road faithful’s good books.

When his team-mates weren’t keeping possession away from Bolton, he was hardly tested by Craig Davies who rarely threatened to get in behind. Ekstrand playing in the middle of the back three, Sannino presumably deliberately deploying his more physical centre-halves in the wider positions, does make sense although that plan needs to be adaptable.

A good return to form for Ekstrand who will now need to stand up and be counted when really under the cosh.

6.5

Gabriele Angella

In truth, just read above for Angella’s contribution to the defensive side of the game. Again, he was rarely tested but receives a higher rating by virtue of his two assists; the chipped through ball to Troy Deeney was a particular highlight.

Angella is surely another who will benefit from playing as part of a more settled back three, he featured as the right, middle and left centre-half on numerous occasions last season which doesn’t help anybody, and if he does then his class should shine.

7

Juan Carlos Paredes

Wow. The selection of Paredes was left-field but being thrown straight in without so much as one minute of a pre-season friendly with his team-mates did suggest that Sannino thought the Ecuadorian might be something a little bit special.

Paredes seems to have just about everything required of him, perhaps as a result of learning his football in South America where the wing-back position is taught to young players in a way that it is not over here.

While Ikechi Anya, Daniel Pudil and the outgoing Davide Faraoni all have their own strengths, Paredes showed a combination of all three.

He galloped down the right-hand side, before eventually being halted by cramp late in the game, was calm in possession, had a decent delivery and showed some trickery to complement it all. He was on the same wavelength as his teammates all afternoon, linking up nicely with Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra on numerous occasions, while the ability to get himself between the opponent and the ball in order to shield possession was impressive; such a tactic earned him numerous ‘cheap’ fouls.
On this evidence, Paredes is the perfect wing-back.

9

Almen Abdi

Abdi put in a classic Abdi-performance. Pinpoint accuracy of passing, probing on the edge of the opposition penalty area one minute, and in the hustle and bustle at the other end the next. It is clear that he is the man who we have to keep fit this season. He offered that pivotal link in attack, Vydra and Deeney aware that as soon as he picked up possession they were in the game.

Enough has been said about Abdi’s qualities, and it is fair to say that while he won’t take the headlines this time, they were all evident again on Saturday.

7.5

Daniel Tozser

Having struggled with fatigue towards the end of last season, it was a relief to see Tozser back to his imperious best. Everything went through him and his passing range is excellent at this level. He sprayed it wide to Paredes and Daniel Pudil at will while his assist for Vydra’s goal was an early sign of another string to our bow. Tozser relishes utilising the varied features of the players in front of him and he is the perfect holding midfielder for this team. Class.

8

Lewis McGugan

McGugan showed another side to his game on Saturday that had he produced last season, would have made his anonymous afternoons far more forgivable. While he looked accomplished going forward, it couldn’t be more clear that the presence of Abdi is vital for him, the way in which he obeyed defensive instruction and put the team shape first was impressive.

McGugan will come up with the odd match-winner this season but if, when he doesn’t, he puts in a shift like he did this time then he will be a valuable asset.

7

Daniel Pudil

Daniel Pudil was Daniel Pudil. Reliable, hard-working and often finding himself in the right place at the right time in his own box to make that crucial block, he is clearly going to be an important player again this season.

While it is hard to actually remember any specific moment of quality that Pudil offered, it is the fact that there were also no negatives which sums up the beauty of the man. He could do better to stop crosses from his side, as has been the case throughout his career here, but in general he was good again.

6.5

Troy Deeney

Given the speculation surrounding his future, and the way in which the modern player tends to kick up a fuss when he doesn’t get his way, Deeney deserves some applause for even being out there on Saturday. For the way in which he applied himself, he deserves a standing ovation.

He picked up where he left off last season; strong and a nuisance for central defenders while offering so much ability to go with it.

The lobbed finish for his goal was a touch of class and if he were to stay, which Sannino’s comments after the game suggests he will, then his partnership with Vydra is going to be devastating. We saw signs of it here, and there is clearly more to come.

8

Matej Vydra

The Vydra which we grew to know and love midway through that 2012-13 campaign was back on Saturday. None of the sulking, none of the drooped shoulders and plenty of pace and skill.

We’ll just have to accept that he never seems to look particularly happy when he scores anymore, but we will continue to grow to love those goals he scores.

Whenever he got the ball on Saturday, you felt that something would happen. A chance, a goal or just a flash of brilliance. He was electric in every single way, his pace in behind and his ability in ‘the hole’ surely define him as one of the most dangerous players in the division and as Dougie Freedman said post-match on Saturday, we may well have to the two best strikers in the league. A superb return.

9 (Man of the Match)

Substitutes

Gianni Munari – Struggled to really get into the game but did his job in seeing out the victory. Definitely more to come. 6

Fernando Forestieri – Brought the ball down with his first touch and scored with his second to confirm the victory. May be frustrated by lack of game time but still a class act. 7

Lloyd Dyer – Hardly had time to make an impact but looked very quick and useful on the break. N/A

Assessing the Watford squad ahead of the 2014-15 season

With July now upon us and England’s quadrennial early exit from the World Cup out of the way, attentions will now inevitably turn to club football and for Watford fans, a season which again offers more hope than could have been dreamt of under previous regimes.

With the Hornets having completed plenty of their transfer business already – some exciting, some less so – I take a look at the make-up of the squad and where, if anywhere, further additions need to be made ahead of the upcoming 2014-15 campaign as Beppe Sannino’s men look to bounce back from what was, by their standards, a poor season last time around.

Goalkeepers

With Manuel Almunia having presumably turned down the offer of a contract extension at Vicarage Road, Watford acted quickly to secure the services of experienced stopper Heurelho Gomes from Tottenham Hotspur.

While Gomes was known for the odd clanger at White Hart Lane, it appears to have been forgotten by some that he was widely recognised as one of the top goalkeepers in the country during the 2009-10 season when Spurs qualified for the Champions League.

With a wealth of international and European experience behind him, the 33-year-old can go down as another that would have been totally out of reach pre-Pozzo family.

Almunia had a similar reputation when he became a Hornet and made a great success of his time here – there is no reason why Gomes can’t do the same.

As back-up to Gomes, Jonathan Bond will be looking to improve on what was a disappointing 2013-14 campaign.

If Bond was to be afforded some time out on loan, as he surely needs if he is to ever break through as the Hornets’ number one, then efforts will need to continue to be made to sign a third goalkeeper of a decent standard.

Gary Woods remains in talks to renew his deal and he may be the best available option after trialist Chris Lewington opted to sign for Colchester United.

16-year-old scholar Nathan Gartside signed a two-year deal but it would be a surprise if he was involved in the first-team squad.

Defenders

The number of centre-backs that are now contracted to the club is surely the clearest sign yet that Beppe Sannino intends to stick with the 3-5-2 formation that he inherited from Gianfranco Zola last season.

The squad is certainly well-stocked in this department, and it would be a surprise if any more were signed, but the choice of which three to play appears less clear.

Of the seven who, on the face of it, will be fighting for three positions, only Gabrielle Angella really demands inclusion after an impressive debut season at Vicarage Road.

Of the other six – Joel Ekstrand, Tommie Hoban, Lloyd Doyley, Essaid Belkalem, Gabriel Tamas and Craig Cathcart – none really stand out as obvious picks and it will be fascinating to see which two Sannino plumps for.

Ekstrand is clearly a talented defender and Doyley a terrific club servant, but both had poor seasons by their standards last year while Belkalem, who was hardly involved, has starred for Algeria at the World Cup – receiving national acclaim for his performances this week by being selected in The Guardian’s World Cup Round of 16 XI.

In addition to these options, Tamas has experienced Premier League promotion with West Bromwich Albion while the signing of Cathcart appears to be sensible enough – despite some inexplicable negativity surrounding him because of a few iffy performances in a loan spell five years ago.

There is plenty of strength in depth but it is crucial that Sannino picks his first choice back three early and gives it a chance to gel – too much chopping and changing was one of the reasons for poor defending last season.

Wing-backs

Assuming that the signing of Ecuador international Juan Carlos Paredes goes through, we again looked well-stocked in this department.

Paredes will replace the outgoing Marco Davide Faraoni, and will hopefully show much more of an appetite for English football than the Italian. His performances at the World Cup have been good, although most observers would note that he appears far more suited to a wing-back role than full-back, a further indication that 3-5-2 will be Sannino’s Plan A.

It seems likely that Paredes will generally compete with Ikechi Anya for a place on the right-hand side although the Scottish speedster is also perfectly adequate on the left-hand side, just as new signing Lloyd Dyer, who usually plays on the left, can play on the right.

Dyer looks an excellent acquisition having been part of a squad that won the league last season; he is exactly the type of Championship-hardened player that we were calling out for.

The 31-year-old was used as an out-and-out winger by Leicester though and if he is to nail down a starting position at Vicarage Road, rather than just being used as a winger when chasing a goal, he will have to take a leaf out of Anya’s book and work to improve the defensive side of his game – again, presuming that we will be playing 3-5-2.

Dyer will be up against the stiff competition of Daniel Pudil on the left-hand side. The Czech international was one of a few who perhaps had a better 2013-14 campaign than he did in 2012-13 and he will be looking to build on that this time around.

Midfielders

The centre of the park is the one area, with the squad as it is now, that needs strengthening. Even with the (hopefully) inevitable capture of Daniel Tozser, the struggles in midfield last season are evidence to suggest that Sannino may need one more.

With the Hungary international in the side, it would still only take an injury to Almen Abdi to make Watford look vulnerable.

Lewis McGugan actually appeared to perk up towards the end of last season, his goal-scoring record improving markedly, but as we became accustomed to, days will come when he is all but a threat. If McGugan can continue from where he left off, we may have a player on our hands but preparations need to be made for the opposite.

When we was left out or injured last season, in addition to the Abdi injury, the midfield pairing of Cristian Battocchio and Sean Murray, in front of Tozser, were overrun far too often, especially away from home. They are both talented players and will hopefully continue to improve but if a couple of injuries were to leave them exposed as the first choice midfield, it would be a cause for concern.

Tozser and one more, hopefully a holding player, is the order of the day here if we are to be totally comfortable with our options, possibly allowing one of Murray and Battocchio to go out on loan.

Forwards

This, more than any other area of the pitch, is where we are the envy of the division.

In Troy Deeney, Matej Vydra and Fernando Forestieri we have three, proven, top-class Championship forwards who have scored goals in this division and would undoubtedly be wanted by any other side at this level.

The Deeney/Vydra partnership has been much discussed since the return of the Czech Republic international was announced, and this is of course a huge cause for excitement, but we shouldn’t forget that Forestieri who was superb on occasions last season but was let down largely due to injury.

Vydra was absolutely magnificent at times two years ago, it is hard to remember a better run off form from any Hornet in the last decade than that December-February period, but when he was misfiring, Forestieri stood in very well.

Both will be utilised alongside the main man Deeney, who it is imperative that we keep hold of unless a ridiculous offer comes in. His talismanic status means that he is worth far more to us than he would be to anyone else, and therefore we should keep hold of him.

Mathias Ranegie proved himself useful towards the latter stages of last season and would be an excellent deputy while the return of Diego Fabbrini to the setup is also a positive – the Italian was so close to being devastatingly good at times last season.

Fabbrini could do with spending a few hours in the gym to beef up and must improve his awareness but has all the talent to be incredibly good at this level – he was selected for Italy only 12 months before moving to Vicarage Road after all.

Our forward options are excellent and there is surely no need to invest any further in this area, unless the worst happens and we lose Deeney to the Premier League.

Here’s a line-up that could potentially start the Hornets’ opening game of the season against Bolton Wanderers: Gomes; Tamas, Angella, Hoban; Anya, Abdi, Tozser, McGugan, Dyer; Deeney, Vydra.

What do you think? Where do Watford need to strengthen and which players will make the starting line-up come August 11? Let me know in the comments below!

Five reasons for Watford fans to be positive


Despite last Monday’s defeat at Queens Park Rangers surely now putting an end to any hopes of Watford clambering up into the play-off positions, there is an air of positivity about the direction that the team is going in on the pitch.

The Hornets outplayed the riches of QPR on Easter Monday for long periods and lost the game as a result of their commitment to winning it.

Two excellent performances over the Easter weekend against Ipswich Town and the aforementioned defeat at Loftus Road appear to have finally won over any lingering doubts about Beppe Sannino’s suitability to the role of head coach and if the virtually impossible doesn’t happen this season, as expected, then there is plenty to be positive about heading into the 2014-15 campaign.

Below are five reasons for Watford fans to be positive ahead of next season.

The return of ‘The Professor’ Almen Abdi

Almen Abdi’s reintroduction and the instantaneous improvement of the team’s performances has reaffirmed the Swiss playmaker’s role as Watford’s most vital cog.

He plays with an effortless panache, never taking two touches when one will do, and creates space for others with his excellent movement. Lewis McGugan appears so much more of a threat when afforded that room on the edge of the opposition penalty area and Abdi’s relationship with Daniel Tozser is verging on the telepathic already; a mouth-watering prospect heading into next season (provided we sign the latter permanently).

It is hard not to look back and think what might have been had last year’s player of the season been fit throughout this campaign but if Abdi is a fit-and-happy Hornet come August then the rest of the Championship should beware.

We’ve finally found the right balance

Sannino’s tenure began a complete overhaul of the Hornets’ playing style. Adopting more of a 5-3-2 formation than a 3-5-2, the emphasis was on keeping tight at the back and looking to take one of a few chances created in order to win the game.

As time has gone on, we have remained tight defensively, and are scoring more freely. The late goals conceded are a major concern but I feel that this is more of a psychological problem than tactical one.

Watford have scored three or more in five of the last six home league games, while also putting four past Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, and if they could defend as tightly in the last 10 minutes as they do throughout first 80, we would undoubtedly be sitting pretty in the play-off positions right now.

Sannino has found the correct tactical balance.

We have Beppe Sannino

Speaking of Sannino, the Vicarage Road faithful are beginning to fall in love with eccentric Italian who is making the team truly tick for perhaps the first time since February 2013.

His extravagant approach on the sidelines may well have been treated with scorn had results not gone our way, but have now endeared themselves to Hornets’ fans.

Sannino has instilled belief and confidence into a team that looked bereft of such facets in the autumn.

Within weeks of his first job in a foreign country and culture, the Italian had turned around a run of five consecutive home defeats, in which Gianfranco Zola’s side failed to score in the last four, into the greatest home form in the club’s history; quite extraordinary.

The away form is not as bad as appears on paper either. A combination of late goals, poor refereeing decisions and a bit of bad luck has culminated in a run of results that don’t reflect the performances we have been putting in.

Sannino is absolutely the right man to spearhead our promotion push next season; as he reminded us on the BBC’s Late Kick-Off recently, ‘I am Gaffer’.

An exciting transfer window beckons

The club’s hierarchy have accepted that mistakes have been made this season which will be put right this summer.

Allowing experienced players with knowledge of the league and the grit to succeed in it, i.e. John Eustace, to leave has been accepted as an error by Gianfranco Zola in the aftermath of his resignation and one would imagine that the scattergun approach to signings last summer is one that Gianluca Nani will not want a repeat of. It is a huge summer for the Hornets’ technical director.

Nani’s successful signings ratio this season has not even been particularly close to 50% and for every Daniel Tozser there has been a Samba Diakite; for Albert Riera, a Lucas Neill.

But it is worth remembering that the Hornets were acting under a transfer embargo over the summer which appeared to restrict them from spending any sort of transfer fee. If we spend a bit of money over the summer and use the Udinese link a little more prudently, then there is every reason to be positive.

Watford won’t be viewed as a threat

It has been obvious from day one this season that opposition were setting up with ten men behind the ball to frustrate us, and it has worked.

Watford surprised opposition throughout the 2012-13 campaign but this season they simply knew what to expect but perhaps, after a season of relative under-achievement, they can aim to surprise a few more next year.

If, from a mid-table season, the Hornets have lulled a few opponents into a false sense of security going into games against us, then we can use that to our advantage.

I see no reason why this season can’t just be a bad one-off in what is undoubtedly a very positive time for the club. We are now getting very close to being very good, but others may not know it yet.

Player Ratings: Watford v Ipswich Town


Watford bounced back from their injury time woes at Millwall last week with an emphatic 3-1 win over Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon at Vicarage Road.

A superb first half strike from Albert Riera gave the Hornets the lead at half-time before Anthony Wordsworth equalised just after the break.

But two goals in two minutes from Gabriele Angella and Lewis McGugan kept Beppe Sannino’s side on the fringes of the Championship play-off hunt. I take a look at the Hornets’ individual performances.

Manuel Almunia

The harshest critic may look to apportion some of the blame for Ipswich’s equaliser at Almunia but generally the Spaniard was solid again. After one early mishit, his kicking was much improved and he organised his defence well as his side comfortably saw out the game.

6.5 (out of 10)

Tommie Hoban

Showing an awareness of the game that belies his years and at times an ability on the ball that you don’t come to expect from a Championship centre-half, Hoban put in another fine performance. He is slowly making that position his own and if he can stay fit will be a valuable asset next season.

The defender’s interception and pass in the build-up to Riera’s opener was just a small example of his excellent ability.

8

Joel Ekstrand

An improved display but still not the imperious Ekstrand that we grew to love last season.

His distribution was not an issue today and he put in an accomplished defensive performance but he is still the weak link f that back three. His performance today can’t be knocked too much; a definite improvement.

6.5

Gabriele Angella

Like his fellow stoppers, Angella was not massively tested at the back. Donning a Terry Butcher-esque head bandage, Angella will have been delighted to have shown more composure in front of goal than the former England skipper, stooping to head home when inexplicably unmarked and netting his 8th goal of the season.

Another good performance, but we’ve come to expect them from the Italian.

7

Davide Faraoni

Building on his display at Millwall, Faraoni was improved again.

He defended well when called upon but was often caught out of position when his eagerness to attack took over. He appears to have been more committed and ‘at it’ in the last couple of weeks (maybe a by-product of the sun shining, there have been accusations that he is a fair-weather player) and Watford fans will be hoping it continues.

7

Almen Abdi

Despite more of an understated performance today, Abdi still made his influence felt on the game. Even when he has a quiet day, his movement and cleverness creates space for others. He didn’t shine but others benefited from his presence.

6.5

Daniel Tozser

One of Tozser’s best performances in a Watford shirt. He assisted both second half goals and his passing was pinpoint throughout.

The midfielder appears to be learning more and more about the division as the weeks go on and today he hardly put a foot wrong. He and Abdi keep the team ticking over and Hornets’ fans may be left wandering what could have been if they had been partnered together all season.

My man of the match.

8.5

Lewis McGugan

I am far from McGugan’s biggest fan, there have been far too many occasions this season where I have failed to see what he brings to the team at all, but it is difficult to keep knocking him when he keeps scoring goals.

His goal last week just about salvaged what I thought was a pretty woeful performance but while he keeps popping up with important goals, he has some worth.

McGugan offered more than that today, with Deeney and Ranegie playing as a genuine front two allowing him the space to flourish just in front of the visitor’s back four.

He showed off his undoubted vision and ability and was once again in the right place at the right time to score the crucial third. Here’s to more of the same.

7.5

Albert Riera

The Spaniard’s excellent run and shot was the first glimpse of Champions League quality that we have all been hoping for from Riera. Picking the ball up on the left, he drifted inside and struck a wonderful shot with his weak foot into the far corner.

This was his best Watford performance regardless of the goal, he appeared to be more on his teammate’s wavelength and defended comfortably.

Another player that could be massive for us next season.

7

Troy Deeney

After a quiet game at Millwall, Deeney was right back on it today.

His strength is quite phenomenal, as evidenced by the way he bullied Tommy Smith late on and wrestled possession back from a seemingly impossible situation. If he had scored from the subsequent effort then it really would have been Deeney in a nutshell.

Deeney appears to be the fittest player in the team, never ceasing from working the opposition back four and showed great technical ability to match.

In a week in which he was linked with a summer move away, our talisman showed no signs of allowing the speculation to affect him. It will be a near impossible task to replace him when, even though we hate to say it, he probably moves on to the Premier League.

7.5

Mathias Ranegie

Despite probably being overshadowed by his strike partner, Ranegie was once again a threat and showed far more than just being the ‘big man’ up front that we thought he might be.

His partnership with Deeney is a surprisingly effective one, and McGugan’s best recent performances have been when these two play together. The link-up between those three is impressive, Ranegie playing his full part.

6.5

Substitutes

Cristian Battocchio, Daniel Pudil and Sean Murray didn’t feature long enough to have been rated but Murray did a good job in keeping the ball in Ipswich’s half and running down the clock in the last few minutes.