First Team 21/04/2019

Foster: “Deulofeu Can Always Win You Games”

Ben Foster says Gerard Deulofeu can always win you games, after the little magician scored two goals to defeat Huddersfield on the road.

They were his fifth and sixth goals in his last five Premier League away games, backing up Foster’s claim about the Hornets’ match-winner.

He has been accused of being inconsistent in the past, and has needed to adjust to playing in a more central striking position this season, but now seems to be putting all that behind him with a string of impressive performances.

“With players like Geri, you are going to have times where you might get a little bit frustrated, but he’s somebody that is so invaluable to the team,” said Foster.

“You want him in your team because he can always win you games. 

“He’s always looking to go forward with the ball, and sometimes he drags the whole team with him. It’s nice to watch.”

Deulofeu opens the scoring for Watford after just five minutes

Deulofeu has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions for the Golden Boys, and two of those were near-identical.

His first goal in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Wolves dazzled, and he reproduced that same technique for the opener at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The ball arced towards the far corner and found the back of the net via the base of the post – it’s no fluke – something that the former Barcelona man does all the time, says Foster.

“He’s lovely at that – once he’s got you stood still you’re in trouble!” said the former England goalkeeper. 

“It’s got minimum backlift. He’s got real control and knows exactly where he’s putting it – he does that in training all the time. 

“He’s a nightmare because he’s one of those who can make you sit down. He can beat you with his left foot, his right foot, he can go round you, or he can do that dinky shot thing where the goalie has no chance.”

First Team 21/04/2019

Gracia: “We Have To Improve & Be More Demanding”

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

By Kevin Affleck

The ever-demanding Javi Gracia said there is much work to be done in the race for seventh spot and that he will have to iron out the lapse in concentration that saw the Hornets concede a consolation at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The Golden Boys jumped from 10th to seventh on the back of the 2-1 win at Huddersfield and they could take an iron grip on the position if they win their game in hand on Tuesday night.

“I am happy,” said Gracia. “But, in this moment I’m not thinking if we are going to be able to keep that position or not. To be honest, I am focused on playing in three days and we have to recover these players and prepare as best as possible. It is the only way. 

“We are doing something really special in this moment, but it is not the time to think about the end or the final. This is the moment to be focused.”

Gracia is a glass half full kind of coach and there was much to be admired about the workmanlike win in Yorkshire, but he was not happy about the way his team switched off to allow Karlan Grant to ghost in between two defenders and head in a goal that denied the Hornets a first clean sheet since February. 

“I was very, very [angry],” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. Huddersfield played a good game and showed their pride. I want to be respectful of them and the situation they are living, but we have to improve in that moment and be more demanding. It’s my job to remind them of what they have to do.

“The team will keep playing and trying to get good results. You can achieve this kind of thing when you are living all the season as a team.”

Jan Siewert, the Huddersfield coach, was mightily impressed with Gracia’s side. “They were very well organised and there is a big reason why they are in the FA Cup final and in a good position in the league,” he said.

The respect was mutual. Gracia knew the Terriers were not going to roll over on their own patch and he had warned his players just what a tough time they gave his side at Vicarage Road.

“We knew it would not be an easy game,” he said. “It is difficult to play in these circumstances and I think they showed pride and they tried to do their best. We had the possession, we had the control and after scoring the first goal, we tried to kill the game.

“We suffered knowing that with one set-piece and on one counter-attack they could score. We killed the game with the second and after we played, until the last 20 seconds, more comfortably. 

“It was a demanding game. The day was hot and the players were really tired at the end. We now try to be focused on the next game. We have to be ready.”