First Team 12/09/2019

Big Interview: Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck discusses highs and lows with Arsenal, plans to help Watford reach the next level and this weekend's reunion with the Gunners - pick up Sunday's match programme for the full in-depth interview.


HIGHS & LOWS WITH ARSENAL

Right from the beginning of my time at Arsenal I always felt a lot of love and support from the fans. Obviously, we had some great times there and some terrible lows as well. Things were difficult for me at times but when I’m on the pitch I’m always going to give it 100 per cent and the fans saw that and recognised that. They saw me go through some really hard times but they were always there to support me.

I have so many great memories, especially winning the FA Cup final in 2017. We were up against a good Chelsea side and it was a very good performance that day. To win the cup was a great feeling and it was a really big high for myself personally. Scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League was another, and coming back from injury to score the winner at Leicester was another thing I’ll always remember. There are also memories that people won’t have seen, like making lifelong friends at the club and all the people who have helped me along my journey. 

ANOTHER SETBACK

My last game for Arsenal was against Sporting last November, and that’s when I injured my ankle. It wasn’t nice at all. The physio ran on and he was grabbing my leg, and I just knew from that moment I had done something that wasn’t going to just keep me out for a couple of weeks. Having already come back from some pretty serious injuries, it was so hard. I remember getting in that dressing room and you don’t want to know what I was saying. The staff were great with me and the players came and supported me. My family and friends came to the hospital that night but once everyone was gone and I was in that hospital room on my own I just had a little cry to myself, letting my emotions out. But the next day I just thought, ‘right it’s happened now and I’ve just got to crack on and try to come back stronger’. It’s so important to let your emotions out first and then crack on. 

A FOND FAREWELL

Naturally it's always sad to leave somewhere that you've been for so long, and that's how it was at Arsenal. At the end of the day this is football, the game moves on. I had some great times at the club and made some lifelong friends but I'm at Watford now and I’m excited for what's ahead.

A WARM WELCOME

I did have offers from other clubs in the Premier League and abroad but I decided to come to Watford because there’s a really good team here and some talented players. I knew a few of the lads already from Manchester United – like Clevz, Craig and Fozzy – and I’ve played against plenty more of them in the Premier League before so it’s been easy settling in. Everyone’s been really welcoming – the staff and everyone around the training ground have made it so easy for me. It was massive to feel the love straight away from the fans as well. Me and Ismaïla were given a great reception before the Brighton game and it was great to come out and be welcomed down at The Vic. I very much appreciated them singing my name at Goodison Park too. It makes you want to repay that faith and support and try to make them sing even more.

EXCITING TIMES

It’s been a slow start to the season but we’re knuckling down and getting to work and I believe we’ll be in a better position soon. It’s exciting times for me personally as I want to be on the pitch and back playing in the Premier League week in, week out. That’s my aim and with the team here I’m sure we can push on to a higher level. In terms of individual targets, anything can happen in football so I go into every game just wanting to win. I’ve been brought up with the mindset of only focusing on the next game so that’s how I’ll continue, but I know what I can do as a player and if I achieve those things I’m sure I can help the team get to a higher level. 

SUNDAY’S REUNION

I’ve played against former clubs before, like Manchester United when I was at Arsenal, and now I’m going to be coming up against Arsenal for the first time since I left. At the end of the day it’s another game – 11 players on a football pitch against another 11 players – so I’m going to give my best and try to win. Paul McGuinness, my youth team manager at United, would always say ‘play the game, not the occasion’ and that’s something that’s always stuck with me. So I’m not going to allow the occasion to get into my head. Someone said the other day that maybe the script is written for me to score my first Watford goal against Arsenal, but the script writers aren’t playing the game so I’m just going to give my best and try to win the game for Watford.

Ladies 12/09/2019

Ladies: Crawley Wasps Preview

Watford FC will look to get back to winning ways this Sunday, as the Golden Girls make the trip to early pace-setters Crawley Wasps.

It was a difficult loss to take last time out against Cardiff City Ladies, as a fine goalkeeping display from Claire Skinner and Laura O’Sullivan prevented the Hornets from taking anything from the game.

This weekend’s opponents have had a great start to life in the third tier after winning promotion last year. Five consecutive wins to start the season, including four in the league, see Crawley currently occupying the top spot.

Views from the Head Coach

As the team look to respond to last week’s result, it’s clear there is plenty to take out of that fixture and into this one.

“It’s important that we reflect on the Cardiff match in the right way,” Kavaja told watfordfc.com. “We felt that we were dominant throughout the game and created a lot of clear scoring opportunities.

“We got in behind the opposition on many occasions, which shows that we have a good group of players that are creative and positive in their play.

“I also felt that we defended well throughout the game, we didn’t allow the opposition to get in behind us or really work the keeper at all. It was disappointing to concede from a mistake and from shots outside the box.”

Sunday’s game against Crawley Wasps is the start of a busy little period, with three games from September 15 to September 22, and four more league fixtures to be played this month.

“It’s important we get back on track and start to pick up some points,” explained Kavaja. “However, we have to be careful that we don’t think too far ahead, as each game will pose separate challenges and we need to approach each one differently.

“The good thing now is that we have plenty of strength in depth, which will help in these occasions.”

The first of those fixtures will be a difficult test, as the Golden Girls face a side which has won five out of five so far.

“I think it’s a good game to bounce back and show what we can do and how good of a team we are,” said Kavaja.

“Crawley will be strong opposition, as they have a good group of players who have been together and have had success, this will give them a lot of confidence and belief in themselves.”

Hosts

Crawley Wasps have enjoyed a remarkable rise over the last few seasons, winning two promotions, reaching a big cup final, and already proving their merit at this level.

After almost a decade in the London & South East Regional Women’s Premier Division, they finally won promotion in 2017/18. Foundations were laid the season before as they kept in touch for most of the campaign, but Leyton Orient proved too strong.

However, there was no stopping them the following year. Crawley only dropped two points all season and had a remarkable goal difference of +77 in only 16 league games. AFC Phoenix were their closest rivals, and a 2-1 win against them on the opening day would ultimately prove vital.

The momentum continued the following season. A second consecutive promotion never looked in doubt as they took all of the first 36 points available to them. A strong Billericay side managed to inflict their first league defeat in over two years, but it’s testament to how good Crawley were that promotion always looked likely despite a fixture backlog.

Part of the reason for that was the excellent run Wasps enjoyed in the FA WNL Cup. A dramatic late goal from Naomi Cole kept their hopes alive in the Last 32 stage and they never looked back.

They went on to defeat Oxford United in extra-time in that game and winning away at higher division opposition became a regular occurrence, triumphing at Plymouth Argyle and, most impressively, Coventry United. Bolton Wanderers were then defeated in the semi-final, but Northern Division Champions Blackburn Rovers proved a step too far in the final.

Crawley also enjoyed a good run in the SSE Women’s FA Cup. Fine wins against Chichester City and Coventry United were rewarded with a home tie versus Arsenal. 1,550 turned up for the big game, as the soon to be FA WSL Champions ran out 4-0 victors.

It’s clearly been an impressive couple of years, but things are showing no sign of slowing down. A 2-1 win away at Yeovil last weekend made it five wins out of five to begin 2019/20, with the possibility of a third straight promotion now a very realistic goal.

Last time out

Watford 0-2 Cardiff City

Team: Wilson, Meiwald, Hill (C), Richards (Chandler, 70), Rolandsen, Beckett, Kikomeko, Vyse (Carid, HT), Bell, Harney (Stojko-Down, 56), Fatuga-Dada.

Yeovil Town 1-2 Crawley Wasps

Team: Gibbs, Carter (Webber, 84), Cole (C), Fleischman (Stow, 78), James, Ledezma-Viso, Nash, Owen (Simmons, 90+1), Palmer, Russell, Stephens.

Goals | Carter (44), Cole (64)

Information

Crawley Wasps Ladies vs Watford FC Ladies
FA WNL
Sunday 15th September
2pm
East Grinstead Town FC
RH19 3LS