First Team 4 weeks ago

Foster: “I Never Felt Threatened”

By Kevin Affleck

Ben Foster is closing in on a record number of clean sheets for a season and believes the one he kept against Liverpool on Saturday was the most satisfying of his career.

The 'keeper barely had save to make against the free-scoring Reds, who have rattled in 64 league goals this season and scored in each of their last 35 Premier League games. He has kept nine clean sheets this season – only Alisson Becker and Nick Pope have kept more – and he is now only two shy of the 11 he kept for West Bromwich Albion in 2014/15. 

“I think it is,” said Foster when asked if keeping Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané at bay represented the best of his 88 Premier League shut outs. “We needed it badly. But it's not just about me, it's the lads in front of me. It's so cliched but it was a massive team effort. They had no shots that were going to go in the back of the net. Even when they had crosses in the box, I never felt like they were going to get on the end of it. I never felt threatened. To say that, against a team like Liverpool, is massive kudos to our lads.”

Foster has thrived working under Graham Stack since the former Arsenal 'keeper took up the goalkeeping coach role in December and has kept six clean sheets in that time and pulled off those two stunning saves at Sheffield United and that one at home to Aston Villa.

“I think he has been outstanding,” said Stack. “He's been super reliable and a massive help to the team, not just as a player and a performer but as a character in and around the group. If Fozzy keeps playing the way he is, we'll be fine. He's up there [with the best I've seen and worked with], no question. He's a pleasure to work with every day and commits to everything. We sit down and have a chat about one or two things and have an honest conversation. We discuss things and I think it's worked. Long may it continue.”

Stack and Foster are the life and soul of the place. There are only two years between them and they've really hit it off, with Stack well aware he is not about to start teaching Foster new tricks at the age of 36. He keeps things fresh, puts smiles on faces, listens to Foster's body language and gets him in the right mental shape ahead of games.

“He is exactly what we need: characters like him and Hayden [Mullins],” said Foster. “It's no surprise they have been kept on. They are likeable and know what they are talking about. You see Stacky doing set-pieces on a Thursday or Friday, putting people into position because the lads listen to him. You need characters like that around the place. He's a pleasure to have around and to work with. He's played the game, he knows the game and knows what goalies need and what I need.”

See inside a Watford FC goalkeeper training session with our exclusive Mic'd Up and GoPro footage of Ben Foster and Graham Stack with Heurelho Gomes and Dan Bachmann...

First Team 1 month ago

Capoue: “Sarr Made The Difference”

By Kevin Affleck

Étienne Capoue, who summed up the insatiable appetite for more with a lung-busting double press late in the second half, wants his teammates to follow up the seismic win over Liverpool with one at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The midfield general is always colossal in these sorts of wins at Vicarage Road and he, along with the excellent Will Hughes and the tireless Abdoulaye Doucouré, ensured the home side won the key midfield battle hands down with another all-action performance. But the Frenchman was keen not to dwell on this one for too long, a sign of his new-found leadership role in the team, and prove this memorable 3-0 win was no flash in the pan.

“We are really happy but we have a goal to achieve,” he said. “We are not in a good position in the table so we need to keep our feet on the ground and stay really focussed on our goal. Sometimes it's like this, sometimes a season is difficult and this one is really difficult. It's a good experience for us and we need to show character until the last game of the season. We are really focussed and it's a game [on Saturday] we have to win – it's simple. If we want to stay in the Premier League, those are the type of games you have to win.”

Head Coach Nigel Pearson and his backroom team of Craig Shakespeare, Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack had spent the week plotting this win over Jürgen Klopp's side and the team executed the game plan perfectly and with such intensity.

“We had a plan and we've been working on it all week and we just followed the plan,” said Capoue. “We were really focussed and that made the difference today. We knew we had nothing to lose and the crowd were behind us from the first minute. We managed the first half well and we made the difference in the second half.”

The Hornets also had the trump card in Ismaïla Sarr who scored two and made the other for Troy Deeney. His pace frightened the life out of Liverpool and he proved too hot to handle, particularly in the second half.

“Ismaïla made the difference,” said Capoue. “We missed him for a few games and we struggled but now he's back and you can see he made the difference. He's really important for us.”

The foundation for the win was laid at the back where the Hornets became the first Premier League team since Everton in March to keep the free-scoring Reds at bay.

“Fozzy had nothing to do,” said Capoue. “The clean sheet at home is really important for us. It makes us really confident for the next game but this was just a bonus game – the game we have to win is next Saturday.”

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