The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

WAT­FORD’S dra­matic de­feat to Ip­swich last week­end served to il­lus­trate two truths.

One, that with­out the in­jured Al­men Abdi, the Hor­nets are like a tiger with no teeth.

Since his ar­rival from Udi­nese in 2012, the Swiss mae­stro has al­ways been a class above the Cham­pi­onship. His per­cep­tion, his move­ment, his weight of pass; it’s the glue that knits Wat­ford’s at­tack­ing play to­gether.

Go back over the last three sea­sons and you’ll see that any duff pe­riod co­in­cides with Abdi’s ab­sence. The Hor­nets were hardly poor against Ip­swich but, with­out Abdi, they lacked vari­a­tion and un­pre­dictabil­ity.

Which brings us neatly to point two – no­body in the di­vi­sion or­gan­ises a back four like Mick McCarthy.

On pa­per, this Ip­swich team should be nowhere near the top six. Noth­ing about their bud­get or team-sheet says ‘pro­mo­tion push’. But when your de­fence is so well drilled that you con­cede barely a goal a game, you can achieve.

Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo both boast a berth in the Cham­pi­onship’s top five scor­ers. Yet the likes of Luke Cham­bers and Tommy Smith barely gave them a kick. They marked sen­si­bly. They played when they could. They kicked it into the stand when they couldn’t.

You get the im­pres­sion that McCarthy could be a handed a troupe of ba­boons and still get them to hold a line within 24 hours.

MISSED: Al­men Abdi

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