Four rea­sons why Wat­ford can beat drop

Club rooted to foot of the ta­ble, but signs are promis­ing, says Arindam Rej at Vicarage Road

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

Deeney’s re­turn

Wat­ford will break the record for their most bar­ren start to a league sea­son if they fail to win at home against Chelsea on Satur­day – which would take them to 11 games with­out a vic­tory fol­low­ing their 0-0 draw with Bournemout­h. Yet per­haps the most alarm­ing statis­tic is their fail­ure to score in six of those matches this sea­son.

At least there is rea­son to be­lieve they can re­pair the prob­lem. Striker Troy Deeney, their cap­tain, has not fea­tured since Au­gust be­cause of a knee prob­lem, but is ex­pected to re­turn soon.

With Danny Wel­beck also in­jured, Wat­ford had to field a makeshift strike pair­ing of Ger­ard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra against Bournemout­h, and nei­ther is an out-and-out cen­tre-for­ward. Deeney will of­fer more of a fo­cal point and phys­i­cal pres­ence to the at­tack­ing play. He can also bring bet­ter com­po­sure in front of goal.

Tighter de­fence

Quique Sanchez Flores has tight­ened up the team on home soil, again de­ploy­ing a five-man back­line at home on Satur­day and ced­ing more pos­ses­sion to their op­po­nents. The sys­tem of three im­pos­ing cen­tral de­fend­ers plus wing-backs has en­sured suc­ces­sive home 0-0 draws against Sh­effield United and Bournemout­h.

Be­fore this im­prove­ment, Wat­ford started the sea­son with no clean sheets in their first seven league games, leak­ing 20 goals.

A friendly fix­ture list

Novem­ber feels like a piv­otal month for Wat­ford and, if they fi­nally start de­liv­er­ing, rel­e­ga­tion fears can be eased sig­nif­i­cantly.

They face trips to two sides ex­pected to be in the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle in the com­ing weeks – Nor­wich City on Nov 8 and Southamp­ton on Nov 30.

His­tory is loaded with ex­am­ples of teams with five points or fewer from the open­ing 10 Premier League matches who have gone on to sur­vive – and Wat­ford have a po­ten­tial spring­board ahead.

Team spirit

De­fender Chris­tian Kabasele said af­ter the draw with Bournemout­h that any Wat­ford play­ers who did not be­lieve they would stay up could leave the club.

“With the qual­ity in our squad, it’s un­ac­cept­able to be last in the league,” he added. That sug­gests the squad are not shying away from the grav­ity of their plight, and re­cent per­for­mances have been en­cour­ag­ing.

Their most re­cent away game, a 1-1 draw at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, was a sign they can show spirit and unity when it mat­ters. That was also in ev­i­dence when they fought back to draw 2-2 at home against Arse­nal last month.

Cer­tain play­ers, such as Ab­doulaye Doucoure, have raised their games in fix­tures where there is free­dom to ex­press them­selves. He was poor against Bournemout­h and missed an early sit­ter, but was pow­er­ful against Spurs and scored.

Wat­ford will need more of that in the com­ing weeks.

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