First Team 12/03/2018

Femenía | “This Game Has Helped Me”

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Sunday’s final result against Arsenal was not what Kiko Femenía would have wanted before kick-off, but the versatile Spaniard can still take some positives after making his first start since the Hornets' 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at the start of December.

The diminutive wing-back has a growing list of admirers amongst the Vicarage Road faithful, despite having only made 17 appearances since joining the club on a free transfer in the summer, though that is due to a hamstring injury initially sustained against Burnley, that flared up again in the away fixture at Selhurst Park.

Deployed in a more advanced position against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, after having come on as a substitute in a similar role in the previous game against West Bromwich Albion, Femenía admits the feeling of playing again was bittersweet.

Speaking to, he said: “Of course, I’m not extremely happy simply because of the result, because when I go there I always want to help the team to get as much as possible. 

“[But] I think now this game has helped me in order to get more minutes, and slowly, slowly, to get in the perfect condition.”

Kiko Femenía gets back to cover against Sead Kolašinac

Watford have, at times this season, had to cope without a large percentage of first-team players, but the situation has improved over the last few weeks, with many of those absentees returning to training.

Javi Gracia has been loath to complain about the players he does not have available, preferring instead to focus on those he can work with, but Femenía has been pleased to see himself and others returning to the pitch and the training ground.

“Slowly we’re getting all the players back and it’s important,” he said. “The more we are the better we are.

“It’s also very important to have a good team environment and good team spirit to help each other – especially after these games – and this is what is happening. 

“I think now we are getting all together and hopefully from here until the end of the season getting as many players back as possible.”

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First Team 12/03/2018

Gracia | “I Can’t Believe We Didn't Score”

Javi Gracia had no real complaints about the result at the Emirates Stadium yesterday afternoon, but couldn't for the life of him explain how his side didn't at least to manage to finish the afternoon with a goal for their attacking efforts.

The Hornets fashioned at least half a dozen good chances against the Gunners, particularly during a first-half that witnessed some really good, vibrant attacking play by the Golden Boys, some of their best away from home in weeks, if not months.

Richarlison went close three times in the first 45 minutes, once with his left foot, once with his right and another with his head, while Roberto Pereyra blazed over when well-placed. Kiko Femenía saw a cross deflected onto the roof of the net and then Troy Deeney, of all people, missed a second-half penalty. It was one of those afternoons for the Golden Boys when the ball just wouldn't go in.

"I'm disappointed because I can't believe we didn't score a goal," said Gracia. "I always say if you create many chances and not score, you will have problems."

The fact three of them fell the way of Richarlison shows the Brazilian is getting in the right places and doing the right things after a recent lean spell. 

"Richarlison played well, he created many chances but we need to score," said the Head Coach. "I remember in the first-half, he had two or three clear chances. And in the second-half as well. We will try to do better next time."

Watford gave themselves a bit of a mountain to climb by giving Arsenal a headstart after nine minutes.

"The match started with us conceding an early goal and then everything changed," Gracia said. "It wasn't our idea, our plan. We conceded an early goal and then everything changed.

"In the first-half both teams created many chances. In the second-half, at the beginning, we played better and had more control of the game, but after their second goal it was very difficult for us.

"We know Arsenal are very dangerous on the counter-attack and it was a very open game. I prefer another way. We defended well in the last game, but today it was difficult for us against good players. We tried to defend with two lines of four but to be ready to counter-attack. Sometimes Arsenal play with full-backs up, so we had some chances. We will try to do better next time."

Gracia absolved Deeney of any blame for the penalty miss, especially after the captain won the team six points in the last two matches. He didn't believe the captain was affected by any of the pre-match talk surrounding him. 

"Troy before the match was concentrating on playing well, to help the team and possibly to score," said Gracia. "He had the chance to score a penalty. I am happy with him when he scores and when he doesn't score."