Match Report: Watford 3-0 Huddersfield Town
By Kevin Affleck
Good luck picking the Goal of the Season for this campaign.
We have not even reached Bonfire Night and yet there are already half a dozen candidates for the prized gong, evidence that the Hornets are not only winning, but winning with a swagger and a certain style.
Here, in a win over Huddersfield that was made to look routine, Roberto Pereyra added to his own personal showreel with a spellbinding solo effort that his Argentine teammate Lionel Messi would be proud of, only for Gerard Deulofeu to complicate the voting further by drifting past two players like they were training cones and then ripping one into the far corner.
The goals, by two high-class players, put Watford in the driving seat after just 19 minutes and they cruised to victory thereafter, with Isaac Success putting the icing on the cake by converting a brilliantly executed free-kick routine for the third. Nobody expected things to be this easy, not against a Terriers side who did the double over them last season and who had won four of the last five league matches between the two.
But the fact that it was said plenty about the control the Hornets played with. Their game management is becoming a real feature of their play under Javi Gracia and defeat against Bournemouth is looking increasingly like a one-off as the games tick by.
The team is starting to play with that all-important consistency and if you play like this, the result will more often than not look after itself. This performance wasn't in the bracket of the one against Wolves or the one they turned in at Arsenal, but it was workmanlike, of sufficient tempo and good enough to get the three points.
It also helps when you have players of the calibre of Pereyra and Deulofeu to produce match-winning moments. They killed the game with two goals in the space of nine first-half minutes. Deulofeu and Pereyra are internationals with Champions League pedigree so we really shouldn't be surprised when they produce moments like these, but they still have the ability to make the jaw drop.
First, Pereyra ghosted past five players, including one player twice, on a slaloming run from the left before he stroked in his fifth of the season and his seventh in his last 10 home games on 10 minutes.
There was a touch of the Argentine about the second goal on 19 minutes, Deulofeu slamming the ball past Jonas Lössl like Pereyra did at home to Chelsea last season. In fact, this was Deulofeu's first goal since that dreamy win over the Blues in February.
Following an injury-hit start to the season, Deulofeu is starting to motor and you can tell how vital he is to Gracia by the way the Head Coach has now replaced him twice with the game seemingly won, appreciating it is still early days in Deulofeu's recovery and that the season is a long one.
As good as the goals were and as inventive as some of the attacking play was, the Hornets didn't have things all their own way. It wasn't all one-way traffic, particularly in the first half.
There was a terrific low, one-handed save from Ben Foster to keep out a fizzing drive from Aaron Mooy. Alex Pritchard flashed one over soon after. The way he held his head in his hands was a sign of just how close he felt it was to dipping under Foster's bar.
Chris Löwe did manage to hit the underside of the bar with an effort from distance that Foster got a fingertip to and then there was another fine save from the summer signing from West Brom to this time deny Philip Billing.
Watford need a third to really kill it off and they pushed hard for it in the second half. There was no resting on their laurels. Deulofeu chipped wide after rounding the keeper having been put through by Success, and then Lössl got down low to save from Will Hughes after neat interplay from Deulofeu and Pereyra had sliced the Terriers open. Some of the approach play in and around the box really was delightful at times and there were countless occasions when the Golden Boys were one crisp pass or one precise finish away from the picture-perfect goal.
They did eventually manage it, though, 10 minutes from the end with a move that showed just how hard this lot are working on the training ground. Pereyra played a central free-kick to Étienne Capoue. The Frenchman dinked a pass with his left foot to the overlapping Kiko Femenía who met the ball on the full, side-footing it perfectly across the face of goal for Success to tap in. Game, set and match. If Vicarage Road stood to applaud the individual brilliance of Pereyra and Deulofeu for goals one and two, they rose to salute the conception and execution of the third.
It just topped things off nicely.
HORNETS | Foster (GK); Femenía, Mariappa (C), Cathcart (Kabasele, 85), Masina; Doucouré, Capoue; Hughes, Deulofeu (Sema, 64), Pereyra; Success (Gray, 83).
Subs not used | Gomes (GK), Wilmot, Holebas, Okaka.