First Team 16/09/2019

Cleverley: “I'm Getting In Good Positions”

Tom Cleverley scored his first goal of the season against Arsenal, had a potential winner blocked by David Luiz and wants to keep providing an attacking threat from his advanced position in midfield.

“It was in all the way, I could have done with that one,” the midfielder said of his blocked effort on Added Time after the 2-2 draw. “I feel like I’m happy with how many shots I’m having compared to last season.

“I’m getting in good positions and I think I’m averaging about five shots per game in the starts I’ve had. So it’s something, playing in that advanced midfield role, that I want to improve on.”

In his first spell at Vicarage Road during the 2009/10 season, Cleverley scored 11 goals for the Hornets while on loan from Manchester United, and his then captain Jay DeMerit still sees the midfielder as a vital part of this Watford side.

“When you talk about an engine room, every good team needs one, every team needs an engine,” said DeMerit.

“Tom Cleverley is well known for his engine, his ability to get around the ball, his ability to always bring energy to the game.

“Whether that’s getting it, receiving it or making a tackle, these types of things are what he brings to this team and I think when he’s healthy he’s a major part of this team.”

However, despite Watford having more shots against Arsenal than any other team since Opta began recording the stat in 2003/04, Cleverley was more impressed by the Hornets’ organisation and defensive resilience which provided the foundation for the fightback.

“For me, that’s the most pleasing thing, in the second-half how solid we were at the back,” said the midfielder. “We’ve not looked that solid this season and it’s something we were good at last year.

“In the second-half it did not look like they were going to score at all and that helped us get numbers forward, so we’ll take a lot of pride in that.”

The return of Quique Sánchez Flores has been a key factor in tightening up this Hornets side according to Cleverley, who was not at the club during the Head Coach’s last spell but has already been singled out for praise.

“When you get a new manager, he’s got his own ideas, but he’s not been bombarding us with information,” said Cleverley.

“It’s just the basics, black and white, no grey areas. I think one of the key areas is how to set up from their goal kicks, that obviously helped us get the first goal today. It felt really organised, especially in the second-half.”

Under-18's 16/09/2019

Under-18: Watford 3-1 Burnley

By Hamish Rogers

The Under-18s were back to winning ways on Saturday (September 14), coming from behind to beat Burnley 3-1 at London Colney thanks to goals from Sonny Blu Lo-Everton, Bosun Lawal and skipper Dom Hutchinson.

A frantic finish saw all goals scored in the final half hour and the Young Hornets retained their spot at the top of the U18 Professional Development League South, which impressed Lead Coach Simon Clark.

“Overall, I’m absolutely delighted with their perseverance, their energy and their work rate,” said Clark. “We’re delighted with the result. To go down 1-0, I would say against the run of play, to come back and win the game 3-1 is really, really pleasing.”

Arguably the best chance of the first half fell to the away side early on, but Burnley’s number 10 rifled the ball over the bar from close range after some impressive wing play.

The Hornets could have opened the scoring on the stroke of half time though, as Hutchinson broke free of his man and burst into the 18-yard box but could only drag his shot wide of the left post.

“When we got in really good situations, we’re still not clinical enough,” said Clark. “That changes the momentum in games.”

Watford got the second half underway with a much higher tempo and energy but, despite controlling most of the ball and having the better of the chances, found themselves behind just after the hour mark.

Burnley’s right-winger was again making a nuisance of himself, and his cross was volleyed home by the away team’s number 10.

But the Young Hornets were quick to respond and the team’s pressure was rewarded in the 71st minute as, after multiple efforts and pinball around the box, Spencer Keller cushioned the ball to the feet of Lo-Everton who coolly side-footed it into the bottom corner.

It was backs to the wall for Burnley in the final 15 minutes as Watford pushed on seeking a winner, and they got just that. A floated free-kick to the back post was beautifully cushioned on the volley by Jack Burchell, putting it on a plate for Lawal to slot home from close range in the 77th minute.

Burnley were then chasing an equalizer and won a corner in injury time, with everyone in claret and blue, including the goalkeeper, flooding the Watford box.

But the Hornets cleared the ball into the box and broke on the counter-attack. Substitute McKiernan’s effort fell just short of the open goal line and Hutchinson was able to chase down and slot home to secure the 3-1 win.

HORNETS: Baptiste (GK), Conteh, Maclean, Lawal, Matthews (Bloome, 64), Burchell, Harrison (McKiernan, 53), Keller (Campbell, 70), Hutchinson, Lo Everton, Sankoh

Subs not used: White, Manning