First Team 16/04/2019

Cathcart: “Our Reaction Showed What Sort Of Team We Are”

Craig Cathcart is convinced the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Monday night will have little effect on Watford’s confidence. 

The Hornets were in buoyant mood when they welcomed the Gunners to Vicarage Road. In their previous league outing on their own patch they had rattled four past Fulham and had then produced a stunning comeback to edge Wolves at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals.

And they made a positive start against Unai Emery’s men, zipping the ball around and playing on the front foot.

But the wind was taken out of Watford sails on 10 minutes when an uncharacteristic mistake from Ben Foster allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score the game’s only goal.

Just 60 seconds later, Troy Deeney was sent off for a coming together with Lucas Torreira. 

But despite those two set-backs, Javi Gracia’s side piled on the pressure looking for an equaliser – Cathcart and Adam Masina both hit the woodwork while Andre Gray was denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ decisive intervention.

“I don’t think this will effect us at all,” reflected Cathcart. “We’ve put in a great performance given the way things went in the first 15 minutes. 

“We can be proud of how we played. It was difficult and we had to run a lot but we can be very proud of ourselves.

“We had 10 men but if anything it looked like they had the 10 men. We had more possession, we had decent opportunities to score and we’re really disappointed coming off the pitch with nothing from the game. 

“We knew if we stayed in it for as long as we could we’d get chances towards the end. We were a little bit more aggressive, we tried to press a bit higher and take a few more risks but we were really unlucky and disappointed not to come away with a result.”

Hornets keeper Foster admitted after the game that he apologised to his teammates for the error that allowed Arsenal to score the game’s winner.

However, defender Cathcart insisted there was no need for the former England glovesman to do so and hailed his mental strength to bounce back and make a vital save from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“It’s just one of those things,” he added. “It happens now and again, people make mistakes. 

“Ben showed a great recovery from it. He made a great save to keep us in the game towards the end. He won’t think too much about it and he’ll move on. He’s an experienced player.”

First Team 15/04/2019

Gracia: “I Don't Understand That Decision”

Watch Javi Gracia's post-match interview above, or read on below.

By Kevin Affleck

The usually stoic Javi Gracia struggled this time to hide his disappointment at a referee's decision, believing his side were on the receiving end of a rough call against Arsenal at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets were in the process of regathering themselves after Ben Foster gift-wrapped the Gunners what turned out to be the only goal of the game when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red card on 11 minutes for a challenge on Lucas Torreira. Referee Craig Pawson made the call on the say-so of his assistant, Richard West. 

The usually mild-mannered Gracia was so annoyed he waited for the officials at half-time and escorted them down the tunnel along with Technical Director Filippo Giraldi. Étienne Capoue also made a beeline for the official when the half-time whistle blew, the stand-in captain seeking further clarification about the dismissal.

“I don't agree, but I respect the decision,” said Gracia. “I have doubt. Maybe it was a yellow card. Maybe. But I don't understand why the referee did it. He hasn't explained anything. If someone has to explain that decision, it's the referee.”

Deeney was shown a red card, his first since the one against Huddersfield in 2017, after the officials deemed his right arm made contact with the face of Torreira, the combative Uruguayan. 

“I could see the play, I could see the contact with his his arm but never with his elbow,” said Gracia. “What I can I say? I don't understand that decision.”

Deeney will now serve a three-match ban, ruling him out of games against Huddersfield, Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“Troy is very sad, it was an important game for us, he knew it,” said Gracia. “The sending off was very tough for us.”

Unai Emery took a leaf out of the book of his predecessor, Arsène Wenger, when he reflected on the key incident.

“I didn't see it,” said the Arsenal coach. “I respect the decision of the referee. It's clear it helped us.”