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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Watford

Ryan Gray of the Watford Observer on The Hornets' season so far

15 April 2022

Watford are 19th in the Premier League table going into the final stretch of games, six points from safety with seven to play. What have you made of what you have seen so far this year?

It has been difficult to watch, to be honest. There has been a bit of improvement in the football they have played under Roy Hodgson, but nowhere near enough of an improvement to get the results that they need. Before he came in, they were quite threatening up front and that is very much not the case anymore and defensively they tightened up, but mistakes have been creeping back in, which has been their main downfall recently.

Roy Hodgson took over from Xisco at the end of January and has won two, drawn two and lost seven of his 11 games in charge so far. Results aside, how has he been received at the club?

He was welcomed when he first arrived. Supporters maybe thought there was not anybody else in their position that they could have got who would have been a better candidate - the results and the performances just have not really been there. After the 3-0 defeat to Leeds last weekend, Roy said himself that there is not any real reason to feel confident and that he has failed to get the results that Watford needed. To begin with, I think it was the right idea, but unfortunately, it is not one that has paid off and it does not look well for the rest of the season.

From your perspective, do you think they have any chance of staying up at this stage?

No, I would not say so. They need to get 10 more points to even be in with a chance, but they have taken just nine points from the last 19 league games so to say they are going to get six from the next seven is a bit of a tall order and then, thrown into that, they need the teams around them to lose as well. Burnley picked up a win at the weekend and Everton look like they are putting together some results now, especially with that win over Manchester United. Watford have lost more games than the last time they were relegated already and the defeat to Leeds equalled their record of home defeats. The way the form is going, they would need something miraculous to really turn things around.

Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Saturday?

If he turns up and plays well, Ismaila Sarr is the player who can cause problems. He had a bit of an off day against Leeds and will hopefully be wanting to prove his worth to the Watford fans and show that he is the player they all thought he was when he signed. It has been a difficult season for him because he has been in and out with injuries and then been to and from Africa, having played for Senegal at AFCON and then in a World Cup play-off recently, too. It has been up and down, but if he is on his game, he is definitely Watford’s danger man.

How is Hodgson likely to set up his side at Vicarage Road?

I don’t expect he will change from the 4-3-3 he has used in recent weeks. It remains to be seen who will play up front; he had been starting Cucho Hernandez (main picture), but he went off early on with an injury on Saturday and I’m not sure if he will be back at this stage. Joao Pedro could come in in his place, if not Emmanuel Dennis or Josh King. Hodgson does have options up front, but the problem has been creating chances. There will be a midfield three, with Imran Louza playing as a deep-lying midfielder behind Moussa Sissoko and Juraj Kucka, and then a flat back four.

Brentford came from behind to win the last meeting 2-1 very late on back in December. What’s your score prediction for this one?

Watford have lost their last nine home games and don’t seem to be able to buy a win there at the moment, so with Brentford being in a good, positive mood and looking increasingly likely to be playing in the Premier League next season, I can see them winning 2-0.

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