rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-14_at_103436

Player ratings: Look away now if you played for Watford against Southampton…

Heurelho Gomes 8
Magnificent and the only player who could hold his head up after this one. He made so many punches that it looked like he was auditioning for a part in the next Rocky film. You won’t find much of the Brazilian’s best work in any goalkeeping coaching manuel but, boy, is it effective. The first-half save – he brilliantly clawed the ball away for a corner with his wrong hand – to deny Sadio Mane was the pick of several outstanding stops throughout the night. He punches, instead of catching, the ball too often but that was the least of Watford’s worries. He is as brave as a lion as there are many who would have thrown the towel in, on a filthy night, when he was flattened after an early second-half clatter with Mane. We didn’t think he’d carry on.

4736393

Allan Nyom 5
We think Watford need high-class cover in this area, either this month or in the summer. Nyom has been taken off too many times for a first-choice right-back and has still not rediscovered the rampaging form he showed when the sun was shining. He takes the wrong option too often when in possession and Quique Sanchez Flores, a right back of some standing during his playing days, will have been tearing his lovely mop of hair out at the way he didn’t just slam the ball into the stands deep in the far corner in the first half, presenting Long with yet another chance.

4660076

Jose Holebas 5
Never really looked like he fancied it and you felt he was asking to be taken off when he went down with a problem with his right leg. He pulled out of one first-half challenge with Cedric Soares, more hesitation sparked another Southampton counterattack before he redeemed himself with a recovery tackle while Gomes prevented him scoring an own goal. The space he allowed between himself and Miguel Britos for the goal Steven Davis had ruled out for offside was as wide as the M3. Any doubt about whether Nathan Ake would come straight back in ended here.

4736390

Sebastian Prödl 4.5
Had what is known in football parlance as a stinker. A game against two of the liveliest, fleet footed front two in the division for the tallest player on the pitch was not what the doctor ordered for a player making his first start since the Arsenal game. He looked constantly unsure of his footing and his night was summed up when his attempted cushioned header back to Gomes went straight out for a corner. You had your heart in your mouth when, under pressure from a Mane first-half cross, he passed back to Gomes from six yards out. He was booked for catching Shane Long in the face.

4736423

Miguel Britos 5
Yes he allowed Long to give him the slip for the first goal but we liked how it mattered to the Uruguayan and he slammed the floor twice in frustration. He was one of a number of players guilty of overplaying in the wrong areas and his first-class levels of distribution was all over the shop. He kicked one long pass straight out on the half-hour mark. Sick of being given the runaround, he had Long rubbing the side of his face after he left one on him in an aerial challenge. He was not happy about being hauled off for Craig Cathcart.

4736191

Ben Watson 6
You knew it wasn’t going to be Watford’s night when their dead-ball specialist failed to get any elevation or distance on a free-kick in a promising position on the left. He kept trying and never gave up but he was outclassed by Southampton’s midfield two of Romeu and Davis. He wasn’t helped by the fact Etienne Capoue was a passenger.

rsz_dsc_5423

Etienne Capoue 4
The worst of the lot in our eyes, mainly because he has the talent to be the best of the lot. You knew he didn’t fancy it from the minute he came out for kick-off with his face almost completely covered by a snood. Top players do not pick and choose when they turn it on. The first ten minutes of a Premier League away match was not the time to be trying a fancy feint on the edge of the box. He moaned about a heavy challenge from Clasie and had a petulant nibble at the same player later in the half. He did a Jurado by giving Mane yet another opportunity to run at Watford’s overworked back four with the sloppiest of careless, backward second-half passes.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 22.25.14

Almen Abdi 5
The hesitation and lack of conviction Watford played with was typified by a moment involving the Switzerland international early on. A neat interchange of passes with Jurado on the edge of the Southampton area presented him with a chance to pull the trigger. He declined the chance and, instead, shovelled a pass wide to Nyom. If there was ever a night to test an opposition keeper returning from injury then this was it. Abdi did precious little thereafter, although it was slightly harsh he was the first one hauled off. It could have been any of his teammates.

abdi

Jose Manuel Jurado 4.5
Yes, yes, we hear you all those who have knocked Jurado all season. He was terrible here and seemed intent on playing the most number of hospital passes in the game. His first season at Watford would have taken some resurrecting had Mane, as he should have done, converted the first-half chance the Spaniard handed him on a plate. Summed up his night when he unleashed a second-half shot only for it to ricochet off Romeu and hit him in the face. In his defence (and there wasn’t much of one, we know) he at least had the courage to keep trying to pass the ball while others hid.

4736189

Troy Deeney 5
The captain did everything right after the final whistle, applauding the fans and fronting up to the written press on behalf of his teammates. Yet he did little right during the game. You had to rub your eyes to check what you were seeing when he gave up the ghost in pressing Ryan Bertrand. Deeney was outplayed by Jose Fonte in the game between the two sides at Vicarage Road and was outmuscled and sometimes bullied by Virgil van Dijk here. Was booked and could easily have seen red had referee Craig Pawson, as so many should, clamped down on the foul and abusive language he hurled at him in response.

4736262

Odion Ighalo 5
The Nigerian spent an age pre-match walking around the pitch, sizing things up and getting in the zone. Oh how he must have wished for a slither of that freedom when the match started. He managed to add Fonte to the list of his scoop victims but Bertrand had clearly seen what was coming and he got round on the cover to sweep up the danger. Watford needed Ighalo to be at his muscular best against the imposing Fonte and van Dijk but he was found wanting.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 22.21.49

Substitutes: 

Ikechi Anya 5
You have to feel a bit for the Scotland international who gets shoved from pillar to post. He was brought on to provide width and ended the match at right-back. He’s quickly becoming jack of all trades and master of none.

4736529

Victor Ibarbo 6
We were stunned that he was even in the squad tonight, having failed to make the cut for the last six in the Premier League, let alone brought on as a substitute. It was a tough ask to arrest the decline and change the course of the match in what was his first appearance since the defeat to Arsenal. He went on one lung-busting second-half run, produced a nice trick and laid a pass on for Anya. So slim were the pickings that it was one of Watford’s better moments.

rsz_1dsc_2195

Craig Cathcart 4
He was surprisingly brought on as the third substitute when the energy and bite of Valon Behrami and Adlene Guedioura was badly needed. We were left opened mouthed when he inexplicably ducked under a lofted pass which found Dusan Tadic who went on to score. The centre-half had Watford’s only attempt on target which just about summed things up.

rsz_1cathcart