On February 29, 2020, Watford shocked everyone by ending Liverpool’s invincible season by crushing them 3-0. Watford elevated themselves from relegation position and were looking to go on a run toward the middle of the table. However, that has not been the case since. In the last three matches since that win, Watford is 0-1-2.
They have only scored one goal in their last three matches and a big reason for that is during the Liverpool match, playmaker and winger Gerard Deulofeu tore his ACL and would miss the rest of the season. It was a nice victory for Watford, but it came at a tough price.
Before COVID-19 suspended play, Watford lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace, then drew 1-1 with Leicester City on Craig Dawson’s stoppage time bicycle kick. They followed that with a tough 1-0 loss at Burnley. Burnley came off a 5-0 loss at Manchester City and Watford had the momentum to put themselves in better position for the relegation race. Instead, they fell on Jay Rodriguez’s header in the 73rd minute.
The biggest aspect I noticed for Watford is the lack of movement at the midfield with the lack of creativity on the wings, a testament to the absence of Deulofeu. Watford had 44% of the possession. With it, they had 31 crosses compared to 12 for Burnley. This shows how Watford heavily utilized the wings but could not use it to score. There were many crosses that went nowhere, especially late in the match where they needed to score. Burnley used the midfield and Jay Rodriguez had great chances all day before finally converting on the counterattack.
To have a successful attack, one must use the full width of the pitch to keep the defense guessing. Watford seemed content with just using the wings and forcing desperate crosses to score. They had little movement at the midfield and as a result, Watford’s attack was very predictable while Burnley had great chances all match long. It is clear they miss their main winger in Deulofeu and they need to fight to survive without him.
Watford currently sits 16th in the Premier League table, one point ahead of West Ham United and Bournemouth, who sit at the top of the relegation zone. They still have a decent chance to stay safe but they could not take advantage of the losses from West Ham and Bournemouth this week. Watford looks to fight for survival as they head to Southampton next.