First Team 17/09/2019

Dawson: “It Was Great To See The Confidence Back”

Craig Dawson thinks the confidence boost from Watford’s comeback against Arsenal could provide foundations for the Hornets to build upon and kickstart this season.

The centre-half admitted that it was painful to pick up just one point from the opening four Premier League fixtures, but noticed an upturn in morale during the inspiring fightback which saw the Hornets earn a draw from 2-0 down.

“We were working really hard and it’s great to see,” said Dawson. “It’s been a tough start and it’s hurt players.

“It was great to see the confidence back and hopefully we can take that into the next game and the next game after that and just keep building as a group of players and just keep working hard.”

After a bright start, the Hornets conceded two quick goals to go into the break trailing. But the team did not give up and their determination was evident during a rousing second-half.

Dawson in particular dug in during the second period, fighting for every ball and staying switched on to make a fantastic tackle and dispossess Reiss Nelson after a rare Arsenal attack.

“He [Sánchez Flores] told us just to keep working hard and gave us a bit more confidence to go out there and express ourselves and I think that showed in the second-half,” said Dawson.

“We created a lot of chances and I think on another day we could have come away with three points. It was a positive performance and hopefully we can build on that going forward.”

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.”