Watford’s 2012/2013 Season So Far

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200 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have just about reached the half-way stage of the season so far for the Npower Championship and things are looking very rosy for Gianfranco Zola and his men.

Watford are currently sitting in 6th position in the table, just inside the play-offs and six points off the automatic positions. But they are out of all of the domestic competitions and only have the league to play for.

Things got off to a slow start in August. Wins over Wycombe, Crystal Palace and Birmingham City gave us fans some confidence that this year could be our year but things fell to pieces after the shock defeat to Bradford City in the Capital One Cup Second Round. Watford went on a three game losing streak and ended up dangerously near the relegation zone. This included a 5-1 hammering by Derby County at Pride Park and the performance was close to sub-zero.  Though things did pick up after a nervy 3-2 away victory over Huddersfield Town which was followed up with a 2-1 away win at Charlton Athletic.

But Watford once again started to stutter with defeats to Middlesbrough, Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers. Though in fairness, these games were against tricky opponents. However, a 2-1 win over Leicester City was the start of a seven match unbeaten run which propelled Watford to in and around the play-offs. Impressive wins over Nottingham Forest, Brighton and Middlesbrough have meant that Watford have kept in touch with the teams above and to stay clear from the sides below.

Watford have been playing some attractive and attacking football, and have adapted very nicely to the new formation, 3-5-2. Though there have been a few games where this has worked but have lost to some suspect defending. Regardless of this, Watford as a whole has been given huge amounts of praise even if there are a few who don’t like the amount of loan signings.  Teams that play us now fear going a goal behind as they know that they will have to come out which will leave space at the back and one of our specialities now is counter-attacking football, evident in the goals scored by Matej Vydra in the away wins over Brighton and Middlesbrough.

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Manchester City 3-0 Watford (FA Cup Third Round)

Manchester City crest

Manchester City crest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sure that a lot of you Watford fans were just as excited as I was when you watched the third round draw. I bet that you were even more excited when you found out that Watford drew Manchester City away, it must have got you buzzing. I know I was.

So after many days had gone by, I was able to buy an away ticket for the game and a coach ticket for the game as it was cheaper than going by train to Ashburys. So when it finally came to the day, I couldn’t help but feel excited. I got on the coach at 8:45am to make the long trip north to Manchester with my fellow Watford fans that filled up 16 coaches. While playing ‘Temple Run’ on my tablet, I had a few thoughts about the game such as who was likely to be playing for us, the strength of the Manchester City side and how many Manchester City fans would turn up.  I already knew that Watford would be taking 6,000 fans which was a sellout.

We then arrived at the Etihad Stadium at 1:30pm and had to wait half-an hour before we could actually get inside to the ground. They were offering boomsticks outside but I didn’t take on as I felt a bit too old to be banging boomsticks together. I finally got inside the ground and it gradually filled up. The away end was packed, both upper and lower tier. To Manchester City’s credit, a lot of them did turn up with as the official attendance was 46,821.

On the game itself,  Manchester City put out a very strong side so it became unlikely that Watford could cause a ‘cupset’. However, we defended valiantly and gave everything we got and even gave the home fans a few scares by creating a few chances for ourselves. We gave as good as we got and didn’t disgrace ourselves but at the end of the day, class showed. City went on to win 3-0 with goals coming from Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry and Marcos Lopes.

City of Manchester Stadium

City of Manchester Stadium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Crystal Palace 2-3 Watford

Crystal Palace's emblem

Crystal Palace’s emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watford scored two very late goals to earn themselves their first win and three points of the new Npower Championship season.

Watford got off to a good start by creating two chances in the first few minutes of the game with Joe Garner heading wide and new signing, Almen Abdi having his shot well saved by Julian Speroni. But Watford went a goal down after a clumsy tackle by John Eustace on Wilfried Zaha earned Crystal Palace a penalty and Garvan placed home the penalty to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. But to our credit, we kept on working hard and created good chances to equalise with Mark Yeates and Joe Garner both going close to scoring.

Our well-deserved equaliser did come after an effort on goal by Sean Murray was fumbled by Julian Speroni and Martin Taylor was quickest to the rebound and tapped in the equaliser.  Yet somehow, Watford’s defending undid their good work as Palace re-took the lead with Owen Garvan slotting past Manuel Almunia without a single defender trying to make a tackle. We pretty much allowed Garvan to run in to our penalty area and score. I know it’s a new centre-back partnership of Taylor and Nosworthy but does that really excuse neither or any player to at least try to tackle Owen Garvan.

Just when you thought, that we were going to lose Palace, again. Watford showed great character to snatch a win right at the death. First, Almen Abdi equalised with a 25-yard effort. Then to top it off, Matej Vydra scored in the third minute of stoppage time with a shot from outside the box to give Watford all three points.

Watford are currently 4th in the league after just one game and if we’re there come what May then I will be certainly pleasantly surprised. Next up, is a home game against Ipswich Town on Tuesday and it’s the return of Scott Loach. I will of course will be there.

 

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Are the players we’re bringing in good for Watford FC

You may or may not know that so far in the summer transfer window, Watford have brought in eight new faces at Vicarage Road. These players include Manuel Almunia and Fitz Hall, who are both great additions but that’s my own personal opinion. Almunia is an experienced goalkeeper and according to a West Ham fan, he was impressive during his one month loan last season. Hall is a strong, physical defender who has plenty of experience in both the Premier League and in the Championship where has tasted promotion with Queens Park Rangers.

Udinese Calcio

Udinese Calcio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other players we have brought in have been loan deals from both our ‘feeder clubs’, Granada and Udinese. Daniel Pudil and Ikechi Anya have arrived on loan from Granada. While, four players have arrived from Udinese and these players are Almen Abdi, Matej Vydra, Steve Leo Beleck and Alexandre/Alex Geijo. There is talk of us bringing another Udinese player in on loan, Neuton who is a Brazilian defender who can play at both centre-back and left-back. How many defenders do we want? If we do sign him, there is a possibility that Carl Dickinson will leave the club. Not saying that I agree, but I’d imagine that Dickinson would be third choice left back, over Neuton and Pudil. One final transfer rumour is that Tommy Smith will be making another return to the Vicarage Road.

So, is this good for Watford FC? European players being loaned to us from either Granada or Udinese might mean attacking and exciting football. You could possibly think that we’re being used to develop up-and-coming prospects. But, it could mean that young players like Matt Whichelow, Adam Thompson and Piero Mingoia will get very limited first team football but any player could do what Murray did last season and become an important first team player. If it brings success, then I’m all for it but I would like to see the young players develop more so is it good for Watford? Hard to say at this stage.

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Brisbane Roar (Suncorp Stadium) Trip

While on holiday in Brisbane in December 2011, I was lucky enough to be able to

Brisbane Roar FC

Brisbane Roar FC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

visit a ground that I have always been dying to see, Suncorp Stadium, home of Brisbane Roar. Brisbane Roar have always had a special place in my heart as some of my relatives live in Brisbane so it was a no-brainer that I was going to support them.

However, this trip to the stadium is different to the Estadio da Luz trip as I did not see a Benfica home game. Well, this time around, I saw two Brisbane Roar homes and they were against Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory. The first game was Roar v Mariners and that ended in a 2-1 victory for Central Coast Mariners. The second game was Roar v Victory and that ended in a 3-1 victory for the mighty Roar.

The ground itself is a very impressive stadium in my own opinion but this hardly suprising for me as I would expect a stadium that had a capacity of 52,500 to be an impressive stadium. Though, since football is not the biggest sport in Australia, it does result in low attendances unless you’re in Melbourne where every sport is big. The game against the Mariners had a pretty low attendance of 10,006 and the game against Victory had an attendance of 14,852. This meant that the atmosphere was not great but good enough.

It was somewhat refreshing to find out while at the ground that there was unreserved seating throughout though you had to sat in one area. So, when you didn’t like the view from your seats, there was pretty much nothing stopping you from moving from behind the goal for example to one of the corners of the ground. Within reason, of course in that you can’t like any football ground in England just walk in to the away area and sit there with a Brisbane Roar shirt on.

There was one thing I was disappointed with and that was the fact that they do not sell or produce for that matter any matchday programmes like they do in England. It would have been handy for me if I could tick the players while they were announced so I could keep track of who was playing. They don’t have to be like British matchday programmes in terms of length, 70-80 pages. I would be happy with a fairly small matchday programme. Though, that is a very minor issue.

All in all, they were two great days out and if you’re ever in Brisbane and a fan of football, I highly recommend that you see one of their games if they’re on at the time.

Suncorp Stadium before the 07/10/06 Australia ...

Suncorp Stadium before the 07/10/06 Australia v Paraguay friendly taken by Qld matt 03:46, 12 October 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Watford 1-1 Hull City

Hull City badge

Hull City badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A draw against Hull City at home effectively ended any chance of finishing within the play-off zone after being a goal behind.

Hull City started brightly and deservedly got their goal after three minutes when James Chester headed in an Andy Dawson corner.  Though, Watford to their credit were back on level terms when a well-worked corner ended with Troy Deeney tapping in a low John Eustace cross.

Tomasz Kuszczak, who retained his place in goal, made two outstanding saves to deny both James Chester and Matty Fryatt. Though, Hull City’s best chance to take the lead came when Corry Evans’ thunderous shot hit the bar.

Adrian Mariappa though, who only just came back from injury and because of this, he was slightly off the pace and this resulted in him being sent off after clattering Liam Rosenior. Watford now sit in 14th place and safe from relegation at this part of the season. Has it been a good season?

Well, considering that Watford were favourites to be relegation candidates and possibly relegated, I would say that it has been a successful season for Watford especially after considering the fact that we were in and around the relegation zone. Little bit disappointed with the crowd attendance though to be fair, we have been getting 11,000 fans for quite a lot of the home games.

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Watford 1-2 Reading

Watford’s 7 match unbeaten run at home came to an end when Reading came from behind to gain all three points at Vicarage Road.

Watford started the game very nervy and struggled to get to grips with Reading in the early exchanges. Watford could have gone a goal down after just eight minutes but Noel Hunt glanced his header just wide of the left-hand post.

Reading slightly dominated the possession but went behind after a good Watford move ended with Shaun Cummings sliding the ball in to his own net after a Troy Deeney cross. Watford could then have gone 2-0 up when Troy Deeney’s drilled effort was well parried by Adam Federici. Watford were then made to rue that missed chance as Hal Robson Kanu’s looped cross was headed in by Jimmy Kebe from close-range. Lee Hodson was at fault for the goal as he marked Hal Robson-Kanu too tightly.

After the break, both sides seemed to have cancelled each other out but Reading snatched the points five minutes from time when Adam Le Fondre found the bottom corner after a Ian Harte corner. There could have been two sending offs. The first one was Hal Robson Kanu’s stamp on Mark Yeates’ ankle and the second was was a rash tackle by Craig Forsyth on Jem Karacan.

Personally, I feel that we have to get at least four points from our next two Championship games, Birmingham City and Millwall. Why? Because I think that February might be difficult to get a lot of wins. We have to go to Palace and have home games against Leicester City and league leaders Southampton.

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Watford 1-0 Brighton

Troy deeney

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A late Troy Deeney goal was enough to grab all three points as Watford got their revenge for last season’s FA Cup fourth round defeat at the hands of Brighton.

Once again, Watford started brightly and could’ve been at least 2-0 up at the break when they had two great chances. The first one was when Mark Yeates had his shot blocked and Buaben fired wide from the rebound. The second came after Adrian Mariappa headed a Mark Yeates cross on to the post.

Brighton’s best chance of the half was a Craig Noone shot which only just went over the bar and I must say that I thought that Brighton were poor and never looked like scoring which is very unlike them. Watford had to wait until the 77th minute to get the decisive winner when Troy Deeney scored one of the most scrappiest goals I’ve ever seen at Vicarage Road. It finished 1-0 and Watford gained three more points as they look to get away from the relegation zone as quickly as possible.

I feel that November will be a big month for Watford and will define our season as we have got crucial games against teams around the relegation zone, Pompey (H), Doncaster (A), Bristol City (H).

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Watford 3-2 Peterborough

Watford finally ended their run of defeats with a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough side on Family Day.

Watford started off brightly and were ahead after just five minutes when a poor clearance from Peterborough found its way to Mark Yeates and he fired a first-time effort past Paul Jones. This lead only lasted for 10 minutes after a neat build-up on the right hand side was ended with Lee Frecklington rifling the ball in to the top corner.

Then there was a crazy ten minutes which started with Grant McCann pulling Prince Buaben’s shirt which resulted in a penalty for Watford which is very rare. Marvin Sordell then dispatched the penalty comfortably and got his second goal when he glanced a header in after a Mark Yeates freekick.

But Peterborough got a goal back when Paul Taylor went past three Watford players far too easily and squared it for Sinclair who stroke the ball in to the far left hand corner. The game nearly ended in a draw when Emile Sinclair rounded Scott Loach but lost control of the ball. Then minutes later, Lee Hodson fluffed his header that went to Paul Taylor and his shot was luckily deflected for a corner.

So Watford just about managed to hold on to a win and grab three valuable points and will go in to Tuesday’s game with Brighton and Hove Albion with some confidence.

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Watford 0-2 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace's emblem

Image via Wikipedia

Two goals in the second-half from Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray were enough to secure a win for Crystal Palace against Watford.

Watford started very brightly and nearly went ahead when Michael Kightly, who was making his debut, forced Julian Speroni to make an early save. But it was Joe Garner who had the best chance of the game as he hit the foot post with Speroni beaten.

However, Crystal Palace started to get in to the game and could’ve gone ahead when Scott Loach did well to deny Wilfried Zaha from scoring with a good save. So once again, Watford fail to score in the first-half in a game at Vicarage Road.

Even after the re-start, the match was finely poised but this changed as Watford were punished for not creating enough chances and not taking them when they did have chances. Wilfried Zaha who is very highly rated raced inside Carl Dickinson before hitting a first-time shot past Scott Loach from a very tight angle. The points were then secured for Crystal Palace when Jermaine Easter made it 2-0 after a fine run and shot to get his second league goal of the season.

This 5th defeat of the season now leaves Watford in 20th place and things must change quickly if Watford are to avoid being sucked in to a relegation scrap.

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