Troy Deeney said Valentine’s Day is not particularly celebrated in his house yet there will be plenty of love for the darling of Vicarage Road today.
Deeney slammed in his fifth penalty of the season after 16 minutes yesterday and showed exemplary technique and ice-cool finishing to beat Wayne Hennessey with a brilliant two-touch finish eight minutes from time. He has eight for the season, a round 90 in Watford colours and, more importantly, the adulation of the supporters after firing the Hornets to the brink of Premier League safety. Watford have 36 points. Hull City were the third relegated club last season with 35.
“We are not safe yet, not until I see safe next to our name,” the captain told talkSPORT. “It was a very good display. The first half we bossed it to be fair. The only disappointment was them scoring. It was a very good performance and we’ll take it.”
Robert Madley, the referee, has given more penalties than any other Premier League official this season. His 12th in 19 games yesterday was enveloped in controversy.
“A couple of seconds before that he was watching us as Miles [Jedinak] had his arm around us a few times,” added Deeney in the same post-match interview with Ian Abrahams from talkSPORT. “It’s tough to give it but it’s good that he gave it as he’ll stop holding me. If he gives it, he gets hammered by them and if he doesn’t, he gets hammered by us. It’s not easy.”
Tony Gale, the former West Ham defender, was co-commentating on the game for Sky Sports.
“He bundles him to the floor,” Gale said on Match Choice. “Referees normally let those go. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t. Palace will feel hard done by as lots get away with it but Jedinak is not even looking at the ball and has his hands around Deeney’s waist.”
There was, however, no disputing Deeney’s brilliantly taken second.
“That’s what we practise Monday to Friday, two-touch finishing,” Deeney said. “I anticipated a flick-on because it was Iggy versus three of them. It came perfectly to me, two touches and in the back of the net.”
Surprisingly, Gary Lineker passed up the chance to ask Roy Hodgson about the England claims, or even the form, of Deeney when the national team manager was a guest on Match of the Day last night. Alan Shearer, who knows a thing or two about the art of centre-forward play, did at least offer his thoughts.
“I’m a fan of Deeney,” said Shearer. “He gives defenders a tough time. [The second] is a brilliant finish.”
Quique Sanchez Flores is not the kind of guy to tell Hodgson who he should be picking but he is obviously going to press the claims of his captain.
“Yes, I’ve already said,” said Sanchez Flores. “This kind of player can combine with everyone, with Kane, with Vardy, with other players, he can combine with other players. But I want to stop about that, because I am not the manager of the national team, I respect [Roy] Hodgson a lot.”
Paul Merson may annoy Watford fans with his lop-sided predictions and the fact he can’t pronounce Odion Ighalo’s name – he referred to him “as the other fella up front” last week and “Ungalo” yesterday – but he was fulsome and genuine in his praise of Deeney yesterday.
“Deeney is a very good footballer and when there were rumours of Arsenal being in for him, it wouldn’t have been the worst signing in the world,” he said on Gillette Soccer Saturday. “He was the best player on the pitch today, class-wise. Troy Deeney took the penalty well, cool as you like. Second half, I thought Palace were the only side likely to win, but with those two up front [Deeney and Ighalo] Watford always look a threat. What a goal that was, from Deeney. I put down on my pad in front of me: ‘Deeney, class’.”