First Team 14/09/2018

Doucouré: “We Can Win Against Anyone”

By Kevin Affleck

Abdoulaye Doucouré accepts Watford, given their red-hot form, will go into the game against Manchester United with an increased sense of expectation, believing victory over the Red Devils is no longer the outside bet it once was.

With four thrilling wins out of four and 12 points already in the bag, the game at Saturday tea time could be viewed as something of a free hit for the Hornets, a game in any other season they would be expected to lose and where anything else would be viewed as a bonus. 

But there has been such a mentality shift at the training ground and confidence levels are so high that there is a genuine belief in the squad that they could make it five from five by toppling the 13-time Premier League winners. After all, Tottenham wiped the floor with United at Old Trafford and yet the Golden Boys ambushed the same Spurs side at Vicarage Road. 

“Tottenham was a big test for us and now against United it's a bigger test,” said Doucouré. “Now everyone expects Watford to win. Manchester United will respect us a little bit more, and if we can do something good on Saturday it will be a good thing for the squad.”



United head to Vicarage Road mindful of the fact that the Golden Boys rolled them over in 2016 for the first time in 30 years and that no team has won more home games than the Hornets since Javi Gracia turned up in January.

“We play good at home because we are more comfortable,” said Doucouré. “We have our fans and our family there and we want to show good things in front of them. It will be perfect conditions on Saturday.

“United have very good players, a very good squad, a great manager – and you have to respect them – but this year we are in good condition and we play at home like we did against Tottenham. We have to take our chances.”

The match will pitch Doucouré against Pogba in a tasty midfield battle. Throw in Étienne Capoue and there is a really Gallic flavour to the contest in the centre of the park. Doucouré goes way back with Pogba, all the way to their days in the France Under-16 side. The pair were swapping messages during this summer's World Cup.

“I know Paul for a long time,” Doucouré said. “It is always great to play against him. I want to play well against him and help my team and win the midfield battle and win the game. If Paul is a little bit less for his team I'm sure it's good for us.”

The Hornets did minimal transfer business this summer and that continuity has done wonders for the consistency of performance. In came Ben Foster, Gerard Deulofeu, Ken Sema, Marc Navarro, Ben Wilmot and Adam Masina, but arguably the most important signature was the one Doucouré put on a new improved five-year contract.

“I'm very happy,” said the midfielder. “I signed my contract and we won four games so far. There was a lot of speculation last summer, but I am always focusing on Watford and my football. I am very happy with my new deal, with this project, and with this club. I am very happy to stay at Watford and I want to take my level as high as possible this year.”

Doucouré has been solid if unspectacular so far this season, and has been allowed to ease himself back into action following an injury-disrupted pre-season because Capoue has been so commanding alongside him. Capoue has made more tackles and interceptions combined than any other player in Europe's top five leagues this season. The most exciting thing is that the team have won four from four and yet Doucouré, the double Player of the Season winner, is yet to hit peak form.

“Last year I scored a lot of goals but this year I have one assist,” Doucouré said. “It is not my priority to score – it's to defend. I will score some goals this season I'm sure, but the most important thing is to keep my level and work hard.”

Gracia has named an unchanged team for four straight matches and all the outfield players in the starting XI were ones who finished last season, suggesting Gracia is getting the best out of what he already had at his disposal and that the new players will have to work hard to get their place in the team.

“We don't change a lot the team,” Doucouré said. “We've got very good players and we kept all the players apart from Richarlison. We have a lot of new players in the team, not in the starting XI, but they have good mentality. When we score a goal everyone is together. I didn't play when I arrived for six months but I kept my level, I got my chance and I took it. It's the same for some players on the bench and out of the squad now. They have to keep their mentality and stay together.”

The team spirit is evident to anyone who has seen the Hornets play or train this season. The squad look energised, together and there is a sense of fun and adventure in the way they are going about their business. There has even been talk in the media about the Hornets doing a Leicester.

“Seriously, no,” said Doucouré. “It's only four games, it's nothing. The championship is very long. We had a good start last year and we know everything can change very quickly in the Premier League. We are not the new Leicester. It's hard to compete against the big teams, but we won against Tottenham and we can win against anyone.”

First Team 14/09/2018

Away Tickets: Arsenal Sold Out

Tickets for the Hornets' trip to the Emirates Stadium have now sold out. Watford travel to face Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday September 29 (3pm KO).

The Hornets were given an allocation of approximately 2,900 tickets for this fixture. As of 9am today (Friday September 14) all tickets have sold out, though there are still some coach travel spaces remaining for those who already have tickets for the game.

Tickets will be available ONLINE ONLY via tickets.watfordfc.com.

The Ticket Office Hotline on 01923 223023 can be called to seek assistance with online account information and for other general ticketing enquiries.


TICKET PRICES

Adult: £30
65 & Over: £16
18 & Under: £16
16 & Under: £10

WHEELCHAIR & AMBULANT DISABLED

Disabled Wheelchair: £18 plus free carer
Ambulant Disabled: £18 plus free carer

You will be offered a free personal assistant admission if you are in receipt of middle or higher rate components of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), however proof of eligibility may be required before tickets are issued.

AWAY GAMES: FAMILY AREA ALLOCATION

A dedicated area for family groups is now available at all of Watford's away games. These 'non-standing seats' are available by calling the Ticket Office on 01923 223023, and are subject to the usual Away Group A, B, C and D sales process.

Official club coaches: £15 per person. Departs from Greenhill Crescent at 12noon on Saturday September 29.

Official Junior Hornets coach*: £15 for adults, £5 for Junior Hornet members. To book a place supporters will have to call or visit the Ticket Office in-person.

Please note that children under the age of 14 will need to be accompanied by an adult over 18 and any child 0-3 years old will not be allowed to be situated in rows 1-20 of the lower tier.

Under-18s attending any away game and/or travelling on official club coaches unsupervised MUST ensure an UNDER-18 AWAY FIXTURE CONSENT FORM is signed by a parent or guardian and returned to the Ticket Office (either in-person, by emailing ticket.office@watfordfc.com or by post to Watford FC Ticket Office, Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford, Herts, WD18 0ER) before the day of the game.


SALES ARRANGEMENTS - WHO CAN BUY WHEN?

Thursday September 6, 12noon:
- Away Group A

Monday September 10, 12noon:
- Away Group A & B

Wednesday September 12, 12noon:
- Away Group A, B & C

Friday September 14, 12noon:
- Away Group A, B, C & D

Tickets are sold on a one per eligible Fan ID basis and subject to availability at all times.

AWAY FIRST ACCESS SALES GROUPS*

First Access Sales Groups mentioned below are specifically referred to and set out in the club's 2018/19 Away Match Ticket Sales Policy, available by clicking HERE:

Group A (3,151 fans):
- ST holders 2018/19 with 15 or more away match ticket purchases under Fan ID record since July 2014

Group B (632 fans):
- Non-ST holders with 15 or more away match ticket purchases under Fan ID record since July 2014

Group C (10,615 fans):
- ST holders 2018/19 with less than 15 away match ticket purchases under Fan ID record since July 2014

Group D (14,008 fans):
- Non-ST holder with between 1 and 14 away match ticket purchases under Fan ID record since July 2014

*Includes away sales up to 11am, September 5.

Regular sales updates will be published here at watfordfc.com and via Twitter @WatfordFC.

How to contact the Ticket Office:
ticket.office@watfordfc.com / 01923 223023