26/10/2017

Community | Half-Term Hornets Visits

Watford's first-team stars have been out and about meeting Hornets supporters during October half-term week.

André Carrillo and Christian Kabasele were on-hand to pose for selfies and hand out autographs to the hundreds of fans who came in to The Hornets Shop on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Marco Silva gave an exclusive sit-down Q&A with a specially selected group of Junior Hornets.

The Hornets’ Head Coach spoke informally with 16 young Watford fans, who had won the chance to meet him after sending in the one question they’d ask Silva if they had the opportunity.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Junior Hornets winners were also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the club’s training ground in London Colney.

Rounding off a week of fun half-term activities, lucky Junior Hornets competition winners spent an exciting afternoon at Topgolf in Watford with a host of first-team players.

Tom Cleverley, Miguel Britos, Adrian Mariappa, Ben Watson, Will Hughes and Daniel Bachmann – as well as Under-23 players Alex Jakubiak, Michael Folivi and Charlie Rowan – all teamed up with the young Watford supporters during the latest Junior Hornets event on Wednesday.


Don’t miss out on all these fun Junior Hornets events!

Not yet a member? Children aged 0-15 can sign up for free by visiting juniorhornets.co.uk.

25/10/2017

Opposition Focus | Stoke City

Pete Smith, of the Stoke Sentinel, gives us the inside track on Saturday's opponents.


What sort of form do Stoke head to Vicarage Road in?

"They are on the back of two bad defeats. The 7-2 beating at City was tough to take but you expected them to bounce back against Bournemouth, but they didn’t and it was a pretty miserable day.

"They’ve had a pretty tough start to the season in terms of fixtures, playing Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and Man City, and Hughes felt they were ahead of schedule in terms of points from those games, but the Bournemouth defeat was a set back."

The defeat to the Cherries means it's now one win in eight in all competitions, and yet you started the season so well.
 
"They had a good win over Arsenal, a draw against United but played poorly in the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea. The Man City defeat drained confidence. It can be tough on morale when you get stuffed against the top sides."

What has been the root of the problem of late?
 
"A couple of the signings just haven't hit the ground running – and we're still waiting for Berahino to burst into life. He was signed to score goals and just hasn't. At the back, they've had a couple of injuries that have really hurt.

"They only had one fit centre-half against Chelsea. They've been missing Shawcross, and Bruno Martins-Indi has been injured as well. So there have been injury problems but every side has injury problems and Stoke should have the squad to cope with it."

Skipper Shawcross returned to Stoke's side last weekend having been sidelined since August

Is Mark Hughes under a bit of heat?
 
"Yes, perhaps more pressure than he's ever been under during his time in charge. Your manager [Marco Silva] isn't doing anyone any favours as everyone is looking at Watford and thinking: 'That could be us'. Hughes has been at the club for over four years now so it's his signings and his team. If the squad is lacking in balance then the finger has to be pointed at him. It's up to him to turn it around."

Are the fans still with him?
 
"There weren't any banners out or any cries to sack him after the Bournemouth game, but there are definitely a few who are restless. But Stoke have a pretty patient board and an owner with a pretty steady hand on the tiller. Peter Coates did an interview with us earlier in the week and he went further than expected in terms of the manager's position and the need to win games."

There was a stat released earlier this week that Stoke were one of the lowest summer spenders. 

"Robbie Savage, who is a mate of Hughes, did a column on that and stirred fans into a frenzy. He's spent decent money, especially on Kevin Wimmer, who was £18m. Martins-Indi was a bit of a bargain at £7m as he was one of the best players last season. Hughes feels they've been pretty astute in the transfer market, especially getting Darren Fletcher on a free. He's started very impressively.

"They made two big loan signings in Kurt Zouma and Jese Rodriguez and they will have been expensive in terms of wages and loan fee. That's the road they've gone down really - getting expensive loan signings who they couldn't afford to sign permanently."

How have the new boys performed?
 
"Zouma been good and probably the player of the season so far. Wimmer has come in from Spurs where he's not really played for the last two seasons, so he needs a bit more time to settle. Jese was good against Arsenal but hasn't lived up to that billing since. But he's had difficulties in his personal life - his son was born prematurely and is in intensive care in Spain.

"Choupo-Moting has been the surprise package. He's been involved in or scored all of the last four goals at home. He's done alright, especially with big shoes to fill replacing Arnautovic."

Cameroonian Choupo-Moting scored twice during a 2-2 draw with Manchester United last month

It's now 19 Stoke appearances without a goal for Saido Berahino. Is he getting any closer to breaking his duck?

"Everyone is scratching their heads. You just feel a goal will give him the confidence he needs to go on a run. It must be weighing on his shoulders and he probably just needs one to hit him and go in. He needs to keep getting in positions but it's tough as he's not really getting the game-time right now either.

"It must be tough coming on as a sub on the back of a long run without a goal. Hughes said we were to judge him after pre-season but he's only given him a couple of starts. He's not ducking the challenge or hiding though."

What's the latest injury news?
 
"Xherdan Shaqiri missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury but he should be back. Martins-Indi is probably out, but Shawcross came back last week and it's a big boost to have him available."

Is Hughes alternating with formations in a bid to find the winning formula?
 
"He started with wing-backs last weekend and Glen Johnson came back in. He has to decide whether he'll go with wing-backs or a flat back-four. There is a young right-back called Tom Edwards who is really knocking on the door. He’s a home-grown defender who is pretty tough, he's got a good cross and there is a real clamour for him to come into the team.

"Mame Biram Diouf was playing right wing-back but he's been restored to centre-forward and has really sprung into life. He's the top-scorer but I'd say Peter Crouch is probably still the main goal threat."

We've been on the TV the last two matchdays. Did you get the chance to run the rule over us?
 
"Yes, and you are doing more than alright. You've got some good players, with Richarlison and Doucoure the two that are standing out. I'm looking forward to seeing them play. And obviously you've got Marco Silva. He did well at Hull and despite being thrown in at the deep end, he almost almost got them safe.

"I remember they pegged us back to 1-1 at the Bet365 and looked like going on to win it until Crouch and Jonathan Walters came off the bench to rescue it. So the Stoke fans are aware of Silva and they appreciate what he did at Hull."


Whether you’re at The Vic or supporting from afar this Saturday, follow the action live – including full match commentary – with watfordfc.com’s dedicated matchday feed; just like the BBC and Sky, but tailored especially for Hornets’ fans.