Heurelho Gomes 8
Cup fixtures are the perfect opportunity to give your reserve keeper an outing. So it says something about Quique Sanchez Flores’ lack of faith in Giedrius Arlauskis that Gomes, who said he was tired after the Manchester City game, was selected here. It was just as well he was as he saved the Hornets in the first half. In fairness, Daryl Janmaat and Aleksandar Mitrovic both shot straight at the goalkeeper when they should have done better. The Brazilian had to work harder to keep out a long range Kevin Mbabu strike and his stunning save to deny Mitrovic in the second half would have been the save of the match if the striker had not been ruled offside.
Allan Nyom 6
Put in a number of crosses, including one to set up Obbi Oulare for an overhead kick. When Newcastle were counter-attacking in the latter stages, much of the play came through Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze Perez down Watford’s right side. Nyom seemed to be caught out of position a lot, allowing Sissoko to run at the defence, but one fine tackle on Perez stood out.
Craig Cathcart 5.5
A poor performance from a player who is so often Mr Reliable. His hesitancy allowed Cheick Tiote to set up Janmaat who should have scored, and he allowed Georginio Wijnaldum to nip in front of him at the near post to collect a cross and cut it back for Mitrovic to go close. His errors could have left Watford two goals down. He improved as the game went on but he should come out of the side for a break now, allowing Sebastien Prödl to partner Miguel Britos.
Sebastien Prödl 8.5
Stated a compelling case for inclusion ahead Cathcart for a spot in the Premier League side. The Austrian lacks the passing and distribution ability of Britos (in fairness, who doesn’t?) but he’s less prone to errors than Cathcart. Prödl was on the spot to head a loose ball to safety after Gomes parried a shot from Janmaat, showing remarkable alertness for someone who hadn’t started a game since October against Arsenal. He dived ahead of Mitrovic to prevent another chance and regularly hoofed the ball out of play or up the pitch in no-nonsense style to avert danger. Prödl is refreshingly old-school in a age where the likes of John Stones are doing Cruyff turns in his own box. He was named man of the match, threw his shirt in the crowd and was the last player to leave the pitch.
José Holebas 5.5
Excellent going forward but a liability in defence. Holebas will be thankful for Ben Watson’s knack of getting back and covering at the near post, as the Greece international often allowed Janmaat in behind him and was bailed out by Watson’s blocks and tackles. Linked up well with Jose Manuel Jurado going forward on the odd occasion and had a fierce shot blocked, but this was offset by some inept defending. He was given the runaround by Janmaat. This was nothing like his performances against Chelsea and Manchester City. Perhaps he felt the effects of a heavy blow he took in the first 15 minutes that required lengthy treatment.
Ben Watson 7.5
Alongside Adlene Guedioura, Watson had the job of dealing with a Newcastle midfield triumvirate of Sissoko, Tiote and Wijnaldum. The pair were overrun in the first half but Watson quietly went about his business and helped the defence out despite having a tough job of his own in midfield without Etienne Capoue. Watson’s form puts him among the best English defensive midfielders in the country. One long range free-kick forward bounced past its target, Cathcart, and almost snuck in Rob Elliot’s goal to open the scoring. He’s Watford’s dead-ball specialist.
Adlene Guedioura 8
Handed his first start since that heady day at Brighton, the Algerian seemed determined to prove a point and his commitment was evident from early on as he showed alertness to cut out a Rob Elliot clearance and pass to Oulare to spark an attack. When Oulare’s cross was cut out, it was Guedioura who battled past two Newcastle players to again win possession, sparking an overdue rendition of his song. Few will have covered more distance that him yesterday. One minute he would be supporting the strikers and moments later you could find him getting back to slide in on Sissoko. Showed he is not afraid to put his foot in and launched into a series of fierce tackles, including one that earned him a booking. The absence of Valon Behrami and his performance here puts Guedioura behind Watson and Capoue in the pecking order.
José Manuel Jurado 6.5
Showed promise going forward and, along with Watson, got back to help Holebas in defence. Yet he was again guilty of trying too much at times: on one occasion he attempted to take on three Newcastle players and failed. He had two shots in the first half before being awarded nearly half an hour in his favoured No.10 position before he was replaced by Odion Ighalo. Did not shine there and this was a considerable step back from his efforts against City.
Steven Berghuis 5
Sprinted inside to meet a loose ball with a fierce shot early on but his effort flew over the bar. Berghuis was near enough invisible thereafter and looked half a yard behind his teammates and the oppostion. He improved slightly after half-time and showed glimpses of talent with a couple of dummies and one-twos, but his impact on the game was non existent. Tough to be too harsh on the 24-year-old as he’s a lovely lad but you can see why Sanchez Flores feels he is way off starting a Premier League game.
Troy Deeney 8
Ighalo has been giving him lessons, clearly. Watch Deeney’s goal against Newcastle United, and then watch Ighalo’s first against Rotherham from last season. Snap. Ighalo joked about the similarity with Deeney when the teams left the pitch at half-time. Deeney was the difference between the two sides and if the Magpies had him spearheading their attack, it would be them, and not the Hornets, in the hat for the fourth round. One volleyed backheel to play Guedioura through showed he is much more than just a battering ram. Classy gesture when he applauded the long-suffering Newcastle fans at the end and gave his shirt away.
Obbi Oulare 6
Your first start for a Premier League team isn’t a bad way to celebrate your 20th birthday. There were plenty willing Oulare to do well and he won a number of aerial duels with Chancel Mbemba and showed the confidence to run at the Newcastle defence before laying the ball to Deeney, who in turn teed up Guedioura. Those who saw him in the Under-21 game at Charlton will know all about his penchant for the spectacular and he attempted an overhead kick here. His last competitive game was in August and Oulare backed up Sanchez Flores’ long-held belief that football in the English top flight is far more demanding than the Belgian League. He came off after 45 minutes through tiredness.
Ikechi Anya 7
Replaced Oulare at half-time and took up a position on the wing, allowing Jurado to move to the spot behind Deeney. Took on Janmaat to put in a dangerous cross which Paul Dummett was forced to head behind. Soon after, the Scotland international again got in behind Janmaat and picked out Jurado on the edge of the box with a perfect cut back. Anya, one of the most willing learners at the training ground, is showing gradual improvements in his attacking output.
Almen Abdi 7
Again had to play out wide, rather than in his favoured position in central midfield, but Abdi continues to demonstrate the willingness to execute the unfashionable demands placed on him by Sanchez Flores, unlike Matej Vydra. He hared into the corner to chase down a Deeney pass and won a throw in. Many with Abdi’s talent would have given up the ghost. Robbed the maligned Florian Thauvin of possession late on, much to the amusement of both sets of fans, and also got back to tackle the Newcastle midfielder soon after. Classy, as always, when on the ball.
Odion Ighalo 7
He only had to enter the field in place of Jurado for the entire yellow part of the stadium to bellow out a chorus of ‘Always believe in your soul.’ The striker was quickly into the thick of the action, collecting a perceptive pass from Guedioura before playing a one-two with Deeney in an attempt to get in behind Mbemba. Him and Deeney went over to confront referee Roger East to dispute one decision, showing how the pair are a double act in more than just their football and their desire to win. Held the ball up well and helped to see out the match. How Newcastle would love to have been able to leave a striker of his quality on the bench.