First Team 30/09/2018

Highlights: Arsenal 2-0 Watford

See extended highlights of the Hornets' trip to the Emirates Stadium, above.

First Team 30/09/2018

Gracia: “I Want My Players To Receive The Recognition They Deserve”

Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below for his thoughts from his post-match press conference.


By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia is yet to taste victory in management over Unai Emery, his former Real Sociedad teammate, but he is unlikely to have come as close as he did here against Arsenal.

The Hornets bossed the game for large parts, hit the outside of the post through Isaac Success, forced the save of the match from Bernd Leno and enjoyed 13 shots on goal to Arsenal's nine. On another day they could have been celebrating their third victory here in as many seasons. As it is, Gracia's record against Emery reads played seven, lost six, drawn one.

“What can I say, I am very upset for my players because I think they deserved more, a better result,” said the Head Coach. “We had a very good performance, with more shots, more on target, with a lot of clear chances to score. But if you don't score, you can lose. We deserved more. We tried to improve the little things for the next game and I'm sure we'll get the right results in the future.”

Gracia was deep in conversation at full-time with Étienne Capoue, who had another fine game at the heart of the midfield. The gist of the conversation must have been how on earth did the Hornets go home empty handed. 

“All the players are frustrated because before the game they thought we were able to get a good result playing here,” Gracia said. “They have played well but, as in the last games, we feel we deserved more. There were many chances and an amazing save. Success and Roberto had different moments. We didn't score and after we lose the game, but I am very proud of my players.”

Gracia is very hands-on on the training field and the players can expect a few finishing drills this week.

“We will try to score goals and finish better,” Gracia said. “It's better to be focused on our work, to be demanding in our work and to try to improve little things. We try to do better in the next game.”

Once the dust settles on this defeat and it is viewed in the cold light of day, Gracia will be able to pick out so many positives. There was not a bad performance in sight and the way Andre Gray hared back to pickpocket Héctor Bellerín deep inside the Watford half summed up the commitment they played with. On another day they will garnish a performance as adventurous as this with three goals. 

“We are keeping a good level in all the games we have played,” said the Head Coach. “Today I want my players to receive the recognition they deserve. They have played well. Only the result was bad, but the performance was very good.”

Gracia was asked if Watford should have loftier ambitions after mixing in the backyard of one of the top six.

“I prefer to be focused on the next game, work day by day and try to enjoy every day,” he said. “I don't like to talk about the end of the road. I want the supporters to be happy every day and to identify with the way we play and with the players. That's more important to me. At the end of the season then we will see.”