First Team 16/04/2019

Gracia: “With 10 Players We Dominated The Game”

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

By Kevin Affleck

Javi Gracia managed to shake off the disappointment of the sending off and a first home defeat since Boxing Day to find real positives in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal. 

The Hornets had a real crack at the Gunners despite playing nearly 80 minutes with ten men following the straight red card shown to Troy Deeney. They mustered 11 shots on goal from a third of the possession and forced more corners than the Gunners. They hit the bar through Adam Masina, the post via a shot from Craig Cathcart and also forced the save of the match from Bernd Leno, who had to dive full length to his left to keep out a goal-bound free-kick from Étienne Capoue. 

“We have competed really well with ten players, that’s my opinion,” said Gracia. “My players don’t deserve for me to only speak about the result. Arsenal got the points but we had a good performance, playing with 10 players, dominating the game and trying to get a good result until the end. For me, it’s good news.

“We did many things well. It’s true from the beginning the game was difficult as we conceded an early goal. After the sending off, it was very demanding for us, but I think we tried. We showed our sprit, our character, creating chances when we were able to, one on the crossbar, one on the post and other chances as well. It was tough for us, but my players deserve recognition as they made a very big effort and I am very proud of them.”

Masina hit the bar with one thunderous shot from distance

Gracia apportioned no blame to Ben Foster, Watford’s goalkeeper who had barely put a foot wrong all season until he dallied and allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to charge down a clearance and deflect it into the back of the net.

“All my players make mistakes,” said Gracia. “Me as well. It’s something natural. We have to live with our mistakes. All the players make mistakes, all the coaches make mistakes. I prefer to give value to all the good things. When we win and one player scores, all the players and team are happy. We are a team and we enjoy together and suffer together. It’s about the team and we are not pointing at one player. This is the moment to be together. With ten players, in the circumstances we had, we competed really well.”

The players were visibly exhausted at the final whistle, after playing with 10 men for over 80 minutes

The team thew everything at Arsenal without Deeney and without the injured Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra, José Holebas, Domingos Quina, Tom Cleverley and Adalberto Peñaranda. 

“Gerard and Roberto last week had some moments when we thought they would be ready,” said Gracia. “But two training sessions before the game, Gerard had some problems and Roberto didn’t feel confident to play. It was better to wait. Gerard, Roberto, Domingos Quina, Peñaranda, Tom Cleverley and Holebas are all out of the team with different problems.”

First Team 16/04/2019

Cathcart: “Our Reaction Showed What Sort Of Team We Are”

Craig Cathcart is convinced the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Monday night will have little effect on Watford’s confidence. 

The Hornets were in buoyant mood when they welcomed the Gunners to Vicarage Road. In their previous league outing on their own patch they had rattled four past Fulham and had then produced a stunning comeback to edge Wolves at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals.

And they made a positive start against Unai Emery’s men, zipping the ball around and playing on the front foot.

But the wind was taken out of Watford sails on 10 minutes when an uncharacteristic mistake from Ben Foster allowed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score the game’s only goal.

Just 60 seconds later, Troy Deeney was sent off for a coming together with Lucas Torreira. 

But despite those two set-backs, Javi Gracia’s side piled on the pressure looking for an equaliser – Cathcart and Adam Masina both hit the woodwork while Andre Gray was denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ decisive intervention.

“I don’t think this will effect us at all,” reflected Cathcart. “We’ve put in a great performance given the way things went in the first 15 minutes. 

“We can be proud of how we played. It was difficult and we had to run a lot but we can be very proud of ourselves.

“We had 10 men but if anything it looked like they had the 10 men. We had more possession, we had decent opportunities to score and we’re really disappointed coming off the pitch with nothing from the game. 

“We knew if we stayed in it for as long as we could we’d get chances towards the end. We were a little bit more aggressive, we tried to press a bit higher and take a few more risks but we were really unlucky and disappointed not to come away with a result.”

Hornets keeper Foster admitted after the game that he apologised to his teammates for the error that allowed Arsenal to score the game’s winner.

However, defender Cathcart insisted there was no need for the former England glovesman to do so and hailed his mental strength to bounce back and make a vital save from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

“It’s just one of those things,” he added. “It happens now and again, people make mistakes. 

“Ben showed a great recovery from it. He made a great save to keep us in the game towards the end. He won’t think too much about it and he’ll move on. He’s an experienced player.”