Mazzarri | “27 Points To Play For”
By Kevin Affleck
Watford will not be resting on the laurels following a relegation-soothing win against Sunderland on Saturday (April 1).
The Hornets took a giant step towards ensuring a third successive season of Premier League football with a 1-0 win over the Black Cats, but the fact there is still work to be done was evidenced by the fact Walter Mazzarri and his staff were still at the training ground at mid-afternoon on Sunday, plotting how to beat West Bromwich Albion.
"Absolutely not," the Head Coach told the media on Sunday afternoon, when asked if he felt his side were safe with 34 points and nine games to go.
"Until the table says mathematically we are safe, then we are not. We don't even need to think about that – we need to think about the game against West Brom. We have 27 points to play for and we need to think about playing every game as a cup final."
Tuesday's opponents West Brom head to Vicarage Road on the back of a defensive masterclass against Manchester United and will be a tough nut to crack.
"We saw the last game they drew, that they are hard to beat," Mazzarri said. "We must do our best against them and try to win."
Watford scored from a set-piece on Saturday, with David Moyes remarking afterwards how his side had to contend with "the land of the giants" when trying to stop the Hornets from corners and free-kicks. West Brom, however, are the king of set-pieces and Mazzarri knows full well that his side had their difficulties from dead-ball situations earlier in the season.
"I agree with Mourinho [that West Brom are the best team from set-pieces]," said the Head Coach.
"We will try to be very careful not to concede set-pieces and if we do, we have to be very careful [when defending them]."
Watford can go into the game with a degree of confidence after the win over Sunderland which propelled them into the top half of the table. You only had to see the fist-pumping celebration of Heurelho Gomes at the final whistle to see how much the win meant.
"We had a really good game," Mazzarri said.
"I was very, very happy. We must improve on the last pass and we need to improve our finishing. We could have closed the game before we did."
Mazzarri has made no secret of the fact he will use the depth of the squad to make changes with games against Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham in the space of seven congested days. He did not, for example, want to risk Deeney against Sunderland when he had a fully-fit Stefano Okaka waiting in the wings.
"When we play three games, after the first game I look who is the most fit and I mostly concentrate on that," he explained.
"I might well decide who is going to play on Tuesday after the last session on Tuesday morning. I will speak to various people about who is going to play.
"The manager makes choices and the players need to follow what those choices are."