Watford away 18/19 ratings

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Once again Poch delved into his tactical flexibility play book for this one and this time came up with a 3142 with Dembele as the kind of 4/6 hybrid "1", with, slightly ahead of him, Eriksen and Alli as the 8's either side and once again Moura and Kane as a pair up top.

Now, I'd still much prefer to see us play a more conventional 433 - somehow this seems to be the one page missing from the Poch playbook manual - but I did quite like the format in theory. It potentially had plenty of "football" in it. I did question early on in the match thread whether Dembele would have the dynamism to play the role, especially as Alli and Eriksen aren't always the most diligent without the ball, and also noticed as the first half went on that we could really do with someone more metronomic in that 4/6 role, Dembele wasn't really showing and distributing enough, Eriksen and Alli were pretty much having to do it all, and subsequently these concerns were realised, but at least you kind understand the logic in this format, if not the execution completely. Dembele holding it together keeping Alli and Eriksen supplied either side and them constantly probing. And for 50 minutes it was the most coherent and cohesive we've played this season, with and without the ball.

This was never going to be like Fulham or Utd. Fulham aren't really designed to be pragmatic, they are a front foot side, and ManU changed tactics and went front foot. Watford have had some energy and momentum about them so far, they were well drilled and and play in bursts, but we just killed them for 50 minutes, controlled the game in every aspect, didn't allow them any oxygen, didn't allow their big lumps to cause problems up front and despite them sitting very deep we still managed to eek out some very decent half chances. Alli heads wide with an open goal beckoning behind Foster, Moura fails to control a through ball and several other good situations petered out.

I know people were grumbling about Eriksen today, but this was his best game this season by an absolute mile. He didn't hit any fantastic shots and he didn't play any killer through balls today, but you have to adjust that perspective a little today, he wasn't an AM or an ACM, a 10 or that hybrid 8/10 he often plays, today he was pretty much playing as an out and out 8, charged with a more metronomic role, showing and ticking, keeping us moving, and by and large he fulfilled that remit well, only Trippier saw more of the ball, and only our CB's made more passes. Of course, even as an 8, he could have done better, contributed something more "outstanding", but if we accept his role was different today, then within that remit, as a CM/8, he was pretty good.

And even though Alli's had better games, again playing more as an 8 today, he worked pretty hard without the ball, and still tried to make things happen in forward ares, still got himself into a couple of good situations, but is still a bit wasteful at times.

The midfield remains a huge problem though, and how we hold it together. Although neither Alli or Eriksen are archetypal 8's, both can do it and do it reasonably well, but at the same time ? If so, they need a dynamic and busy cunt in their with them to do more of the fetching and carrying, provide more insurance, a Kante type, (hopefully Wanyama when back, or maybe Amos/Skipp even). Dier's too ponderous and predictable, and lacks that hunter dynamism, has no 360 game brain, doesn't want the ball under pressure and can't move with it. Dembele is much more unflappable, will take it under pressure, but his effective playing time has shrunk from 60 minutes a game to about 30. It's like once he sat down at half time he just couldn't get his body or brain jump started again. Even before we'd scored he was blowing hard, giving sloppy passes - one in our six yard box - but after we scored and they had their little hurrah, he was just like a turtle in force 10 windsock. Poch spoke after the game about how we stopped playing football immediately after scoring for a little spell, stopped wanting the ball.

All those issues aside, this really wasn't a catastrophic away performance at a tough place. We ground our way to a lead doing the right things, were patient, moved the ball around, and eventually made that control count, our pressure told.

What happened then was that, with Dembele flagging, we struggled to keep a grip of things when they had a little huff at us, and that's pretty much all it was, they got a little bit of wind, got two set piece goals in 8 minutes and then shelled it again. Pretty much the reverse of what we did at ManU on Monday. They weren't great and we weren't terrible at all.

We didn't actually allow them a single quality chance in open play. Their XG (in other words expected goals from the quality of chances) was a fucking poultry 0.44 that was lower than any other team this week, including Newcastle away at ManC.

Which is why I wasn't apoplectic with rage today, even in our worst phase, we were so much more cohesive without the ball that we have been so far. So much less general chaos than all our first three games (especially the last one) where even shit cunts like Newcastle were carving us apart from open play.

We didn't create a plethora of quality chances either, to a degree, a victim of our own dominance as we pushed them into a very deep block, but also of our own bumbling, as per often the case. Before today, no team had coughed up the ball more from miss controlling the ball. And this is our other area of major concern. Kane. We all love Kane, he's uber. But his hold up play has been fucking abysmal for months. And as much as Moura's busy little legs have been been a real positive so far this season, he also is a bit erratic; sometimes he'll dribble round three players, sometimes his first touch is spring loaded. They both obviously have some great traits, but both of them in the same space, especially against a deep block is cluster bumble congestion at times.

I liked the notional idea of how Poch set us up today, two "footballing 8's" hubbing off a pivotal CM, the FB's pushed up and wide, but Poch really needed to react to the Dembele situation much quicker. But I do think there were some decent signs out there today, we were much much better defensively, conceding two goals from two set pieces is largely shit luck, it happens. Not allowing them a chance in open play is good. I'd really like to see us try a 433. Get a busy, but metronomic fucker in that Dembele role (Wanyama, Amos, Skipp?), have two from Eriksen, Alli, Winks as the 8's and have Moura and Lamela as wide forwards either side of Kane, giving him that fulcrum forward role again, putting another creative body in forward areas, sacrificing a CB.

I took a lot of shit last week for saying I thought the result flattered a chaotic performance, then Poch came and and said the same and repeated it post match today, that he was really really unhappy last week. I hope on reflection he isn't so appalled by what he saw and he and we did today, I think there was some good sense and intentions in what he and we did today, sometimes football just fucks you, as it did ManU last week. Either way, I hope just because we lost, Poch doesn't feel the need to chuck the entire baby out with this weeks tactical bath water.


Vorm - Solid game.

Trippier - Decent game, becoming like a little playmaker on the right side. Only player to see more ball than Eriksen.

Alderweireld - OK

Sanchez - Pretty OK

Vertinghen - Good game, love seeing him glide out of defence, he's going to be harder to replace than Alderwireld IMO.

Davies - After a very good first half of last season, he seems to have regressed to very meh. Not only forward areas, but allowed the odd cross to come in too easily.

Dembele - He's got a lovely spin cycle, but just can't rinse or repeat any more. Chinese glue factory beckons.

Eriksen - No fireworks, but a good tick, tick no.8 type game, through which most things flow. Only Trippier saw more ball and no player ahead of the CB's made more passes. More pezaze would be lovely, but I can't fault his effort or performance too much in this remit.

Alli - Ive been hard on the kid in the past, there is bumbly wastage still at times, but he is playing with more responsibility, and still providing some creative spark and box moments. Decent enough, but did go a little awol in that second half, and Poch has got to brave sometimes and be prepared to pull him off.

Moura - We're all loving his energy, just needs to show a little more composure at times.

Kane - I think he desperately needs a rest, but there's no way that's going to happen. I wonder if that's why Pochettino is playing this two CF system. He's still working hard, hustling the CB's, but I wish he'd stop trying to dribble and sometimes he has to hold it up a bit better and lay it off.
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Chess extraordinaire
Wasn't Vertonghen at fault for both goals? Could be wrong and may need to watch again.
Vorm 6
Alderweireld 7
Sanchez 6.5
Vertonghen 6.5
Trippier 7
Eriksen 5
Dembélé 4
Dele 6
Davies 3.75
Lucas 7
Kane 4.5

Llorente 4
Winks 7
Rose -

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From what I gather when watching the game a few pints in is that Lucas looked lively in what was a very hustle bustle game. Harry doesn't look sharp but he hasn't had a summer off for lord knows how long and Dele needs to do more when he isn't chipping in with goals.

Sanchez looked like a beast in the first half but got too bullied by Deeney in the 2nd half and we made a mistake not playing a DM, especially in the last 25 minutes when you know Watford are going to apply some pressure. Trippier had a decent game, Eriksen needs a goal more than anyone in our team to get a spring in his step & not having Lamela or Son on the bench put us in a bit of the thick stuff when we needed fresh attacking legs.

Llorente just doesn't add enough and the others were so so. I thought Winks looked lively when he came on and that we relied on crosses with them suffocating the middle. Unfortunately our crosses were not on point and when that happens goals will not go your way.

All in all it wasn't too bad a performance, we just got undone by some serious Watford energy in the last 25 minutes and our attackers were 2nd best to a Watford defence I fancied our chances against. It wasn't a great result or performance but if Dele nicks that goal in the 1st half the game would have had a different look to it. The sooner Sonny is back and there is genuine competition up top the better.

Dembele shouldn't be a deep lying midfielder, it ain't his style & for me the starting line up lacked a bit of balance. I'd have played a 4-2-3-1 personally with the same lineup that started against Man U but Poch knows best, he made his choice for whatever reason and it came up short against a big, boisterous Watford team that had what sounded like a fierce home support backing them up. Teams are always prone to set pieces and this time it bit us in the arse. It happens, the boys need to make amends Vs Liverpool now
Think that if Poch wanted to start Dembele, he should have also had plugged into his 'to do ' list 'Must substitute Dembele with Winks at Half Time, as it seemed obvious a week before the game that Dembele wouldn't be good for another 90 minutes so soon.

Having started Rose at OT and found that after the first 45 minutes he started to play reasonably well, I was surprised not to see him start again to try to get him back to his old form : its the only way he's ever going to recapture it. Would have also given Watford a little more to think of in attack

With the limited attacking options on the bench I'd have preferred to see KWP put on in place of Llorente - played as a winger who can cut inside and score the odd goal (as he did I think v Rochdale). Maybe not the best choice but I think more likely to shake things up and score than Llorente who seemed to be the only obvious attacking option on the bench today
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One team simply wanted it more, and they weren’t wearing white. I can’t fucking stand Deeney but he schooled us today. Very disappointing result, clearly defending set pieces needs to be looked at, or maybe having a little bit more fight would help. Kane desperately needs a rest, stick Som up front when he gets back.
No. I was being facetious. I'm just wondering what he did to justify your solid game assessment.
Apart from standing with his feet in treacle as the ball sailed past him twice.
In game I didn't think he had much chance with either goal did he? But apart from that he just did routine stuff well enough I thought, handled a couple of crosses well etc. Maybe when I see the goals on MOTD I'll change my mind?

John Thomas

Doing things the right way
In game I didn't think he had much chance with either goal did he? But apart from that he just did routine stuff well enough I thought, handled a couple of crosses well etc. Maybe when I see the goals on MOTD I'll change my mind?
Woolwich and United win. We lose.
And you're watching MoTD?

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Vorm 3
Toby 6
Sanchez 4
Verts 1
Trippier 5
Davies 5
Dembele 3
Eriksen 2
Dele 2
Lucas 6
Kane 3

Winks 6
Rose 2
Llorente 1

Well it was shit. I cashed out my bet on a Tottenham win (among other games) at 1-0 when Toby's header almost went into our own net so at least I didn't lose money but everyone was pretty shit, aside from Winks and Moura who were okay.
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