8 The Daily Telegraph Monday 29 June 2020 *** Total Football Lockdown breach and dismal defeat plunge at Vicarage Road By Tom Cary take long. Gray posted videos of the party on Instagram. His Watford team-mates who did play created virtually nothing of note for lone target man Troy Deeney, to whom they kept pumping long balls much to the delight of Southampton’s centre-backs Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard. When Watford are scrapping for survival, one of their fit strikers defying guidelines in such a way was a dereliction of duty and cannot have helped focus or morale. One thing is clear, Watford badly need someone to start scoring. Since beating Liverpool 3-0 on Feb 29, they have scored just twice in four outings, and one of those, the consolation goal in this game, came from the boot of Bednarek. Only Norwich (25) and Crystal Palace (28) have scored fewer than Watford’s 29 goals this season. Fans watching on television would have been looking covetously at Danny Ings, who took his two goals with conviction and must be close to an England recall. Southampton started with greater intensity and fashioned the first shot on target which Shane a run-in that includes games against Manchester City and Arsenal. The omens were not good from the start here. Watford woke to reports that Gray had thrown a party for 20 of his nearest and dearest, including team-mates Domingos Quina and Nathaniel Chalobah. All three were left out of the squad for “health and safety” reasons, although Pearson was cagey. “Until I know all the facts, I’m not making any further comment on that situation,” he said through gritted teeth. The investigation should not gation. This was desperate, desperate stuff from a Watford perspective. A toothless performance against a team with little to play for, leaves them in 16th place, a point above safety, having played a game more than West Ham and Bournemouth, the teams just below them. A season which had looked to have turned around following the appointment of Nigel Pearson in December is suddenly very bleak. Even the fixture list looks daunting, with Saturday’s trip to Chelsea, and Watford Southampton Bednarek 79 og Ings 16, 70, Ward-Prowse 82 A day that began with reports that striker Andre Gray had hosted an illicit lockdown birthday bash in his Surrey mansion on Friday night ended with Watford punch drunk, and staring down the barrel of releDoherty’s Relegation run-ins and verdicts 15 BRIGHTON P31 PTS33 Man United (h), Norwich (a), Liverpool (h), Man City (h), Southampton (a), Newcastle (h), Burnley (a). Look safe thanks to their newfound steel and character. Verdict 16 WATFORD P32 PTS28 Burnley (a), Southampton (h), Chelsea (a), Norwich (h), Newcastle (h), West Ham (a), Man City (h), Arsenal (a). In a rut and final two matches are intimidating. Verdict 17 WEST HAM UNITED P31 PTS27 Chelsea (h), Newcastle (a), Burnley (h), Norwich (a), Watford (h), Man United (a), Aston Villa (h). A favourable fixture list. Should still be fine. Verdict 18 BOURNEMOUTH P31 PTS27 Newcastle (h), Man United (a), Tottenham (h), Leicester (h), Man City (a), Southampton (h), Everton (a). Struggling for goals and confidence. Need to find a spark from somewhere. Verdict 19 ASTON VILLA P32 PTS27 Liverpool (a), Man United (h), Crystal Palace (h), Everton (a), Arsenal (h), West Ham (a). All their remaining games look daunting. Big trouble. Verdict 20 NORWICH CITY P31 PTS21 Arsenal (a), Brighton (h), Watford (a), West Ham (h), Chelsea (a), Burnley (h), Man City (a). It would take a miracle from here. Verdict Bargain buy Doherty eyes third tier to Champions League rise face Olympiacos in the Europa League round of 16 in August, but the Champions League is now very much in their sights. Wolves host Arsenal at Molineux this weekend, but it is impossible to ignore their final game of the season away at Chelsea, which already looks very significant. Doherty, 28, said: “Lockdown was longer than everyone expected. We are professionals so we were never going to let ourselves fall too far out of shape. “I guess because we always felt the season would resume, we were always staying ready because of what we had to play for. We were in a good position even before we had the three wins.” Wolves completed their first league double over Villa since the 1962-63 season, with the 62nd-minute winner coming from midfielder Leander Dendoncker. They barely broke out of second gear against their hosts, who remain deep in trouble. Midlands Football reporter at Villa Park By John Percy Aston Villa Wolves association with the club stretches back to 2010, when he was spotted by Mick McCarthy playing for Bohemians against Wolves in a pre-season friendly, and signed for just £75,000. That meagre fee must be one of the bargains of the century, with the Republic of Ireland international playing a huge role in the club’s rise from the third tier to fifth place in the Premier League. Wolves’ win at Aston Villa takes them three points off third-placed Leicester, and Doherty knows there is no point in downplaying what is in front of them. “Last season was a great season, but this would top the lot. We know Dendoncker 62 From the puddles and potholes of League One to the brink of the Champions League in six years, it has been a remarkable journey for Matt Doherty. The Wolves wing-back has been a key figure in the club’s upward trajectory and insists head coach Nuno Espirito Santo is on the verge of achieving “something incredibly special” this season. Upwardly mobile: Leander Dendoncker (left) celebrates his goal that earned Wolves victory what is at stake,” he said. “We’re in a very strong position. We have six games to really achieve something incredibly special. “We have come back right on it and ready to compete. We are doing everything we can to achieve great things. We have come a long way even since the manager came in [in May 2017]. You have to remember we were in the Championship, but the way he has got us playing now, it is a pleasure to be part of.” Wolves have made a perfect start since resuming with three victories and three clean sheets. They will
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