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Player ratings: ‘Nudge me, Gomey. You were the best Watford player against Bournemouth’

Heurelho Gomes 8.5
Is there a goalkeeper playing better in the Premier League? Repeated his heroics from the reverse fixture in October, earning his team a point with a string of fine saves, although thankfully he was not required to face a penalty this time. Had little to do in the first period but came alive in the second, most spectacularly when Harry Arter cut across the ball and struck it towards the top corner in the second half, attempting to recreate the goal he scored at this ground last season. Gomes was in unbeatable mood and added another to his bank of save of the season contenders to tip it round his post with an outstretched left hand. He must like the Vicarage Road end as it was there where he executed his Chelsea heroics. This was his 11th clean sheet of the season and his ninth at home. One horrible clearance kick from a Craig Cathcart backpass was quickly forgotten.

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Juan Carlos Paredes 6
Produced the one moment that got the crowd off their feet: a drag back deep in the right-hand corner to leave Arter for dead. Was lively going forward and a cross for Odion Ighalo and another for Nordin Amrabat, following the piece of skill, showed his delivery is better than that of Allan Nyom. As with Nyom, Quique Sanchez Flores called him over whenever he could in the first half to give him further instructions and guidance. On the downside, he darted forward, leaving the ball for Etienne Capoue but they were not on the same wavelength and it required Capoue to chase back and prevent Bournemouth from counterattacking. Gomes will not thank him for one risky back pass and he was out-jumped by Max Gradel late on, requiring Gomes to make a fantastic save to keep the score level. Surprised many with the length of a second-half throw-in to pick out Ighalo in the middle of the box.

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Craig Cathcart 6.5
Produced one of his finest moments in a Watford shirt when he volleyed an equaliser past Artur Boruc back in September 2014, but was unable to make such an impact on this match. Josh King got in front of him to volley wide at the near post and the former Manchester United defender took one for the team by pulling back the flying Gradel late on. The fact it was only his fourth booking of the season shows how well he’s timed his tackles and the judicious nature of his positioning. He prevented two potentially dangerous Bournemouth opportunities by cutting out threatening passes while his own distribution was of the longer variety as Watford sought to get it from back to front as quickly as possible.

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Miguel Britos 7
It shows just how far Miguel Britos has come that he had not even started a Premier League game when these two met in October. Now he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet. He was at his best again here, mixing brain and brawn. On one occasion he rolled the ball past Matt Ritchie and sauntered down the wing before attempting to pick out Ighalo. On another, he showed just how canny and wily he is my mixing it with King as they dueled along the touchline, frustrating the striker who lashed out at him. Others have been sent off this season for raising their hands. Britos showed all his experience by not reacting. He’d done his job by rattling King. Britos came close to scoring his first Watford goal in the second half but he could not get enough purchase on a Ben Watson free-kick, but, on a rare downside, he almost put his team in the mire by trying to be too cute in picking out Ake with an ambitious pass which was cut out by Matt Ritchie.

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Nathan Ake 7
While the right-back spot is being filled by the best of a bad bunch, the choice at left-back is quite the opposite. Ake knows he has to be at his best as Jose Holbeas is breathing hard down his neck. He was good here, recovering from allowing two different Bournemouth players to get to his byline very early on. Made one good block on Richie after an Arter pass sailed over his head and got stuck into Ritchie on the halfway in front of the Graham Taylor Stand. The medical staff would have had their hearts in their mouth when he disappeared over the wall and down the 6ft foot drop in the north-west corner of the ground. Climbed back up and got back into position with minimal fuss. These Dutch lads are made of strong stuff.  He joked about the incident in the press area after the match.

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Etienne Capoue 5
He’s not playing well. Simple as that. He’s not been anywhere near the level expected of him since at least Southampton away and if not before. We’d leave him out at Old Trafford. Sanchez Flores dragged him off yesterday shortly after he failed to pick out Ighalo with a wayward pass he is good enough to hit with pin-point accuracy in his sleep. Perhaps his dip in form is because he’s playing slightly wider than he’s used to or perhaps this inconsistency is why Spurs dispensed with him and why he is not in the plans of his national team. Did bust a gut to keep in an overhit Nordin Amrabat cross and showed his abundant talent by plucking a ball out of the air and effortlessly gliding past Arter. Doesn’t do it often enough, though. Watford will need disciplined midfielders in the trenches at Manchester United on Wednesday night.

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Ben Watson 7.5
Marked his 50th Watford appearance with a performance very similar to the other 49 – consistent and reliable. Playing in what Sanchez Flores describes as the pivot role, he broke up play, not least when he dived in front of King, and prevented Bournemouth from being able to play fluently through Watford’s midfield. His deliveries from corners were again under par but his free-kicks were better. He picked out Troy Deeney and Britos with longer ones and then showed his alertness to take a quick one to Ighalo in the second. Was harshly booked by Anthony Taylor for fouling Gradel but think he paid the price for previous fouls by others.

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Valon Behrami 7
A fiery performance which will have reminded Sanchez Flores just why he was a vital part of the Watford side early this season. Lashed an early clearance into the lower tier of the Graham Taylor to show he wasn’t going to pull any punches. Made life uncomfortable for Bournemouth’s pacey forwards by making a number of very strong, but fair, challenges. Played on the left of the midfield three and was asked to support Ake, who had to deal with the threat of Ritchie who was cutting in from the right. Fell to the floor holding his face but it looked like an unintentional flailing arm from Adam Smith, rather than a malicious elbow or a dive and was accused of being theatrical by Ritchie on another occasion in the second half. Got caught overplaying in a central area in the first half.

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Nordin Amrabat 6.5
Showed glimpses, albeit brief ones, to show why Watford broke their transfer record to sign him. In his second Premier League start, he was stationed on the right even though he’s said he prefers playing on the left. Sanchez Flores would have appreciated his defensive work on his own byline early on and the fact, the next moment, he was linking up with Deeny and dragging an effort wide at the other end. Enjoyed one good tussle with Arter in the centre of the park but will not look back with any fondness on his air shot from Paredes’ cross or the way he lost possession when Ake was caught upfield trying to overlap. Played one nice angle pass to Deeney before being replaced by Almen Abdi.

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Troy Deeney 5.5
Scored his first hat-trick in a Championship match against Bournemouth but this was not the way to mark his 250th in a Watford shirt. Started the match alongside Ighalo up front but seemed to drop back alongside Amrabat in the second period, in order to occupy one of the lines Sanchez Flores talks about. Worryingly, lacked the pace or strength to get away from Simon Francis when Mario Suarez played a ball over the Bournemouth defence, and ended up losing possession. Unfurled a couple of shots that went wide, including one which found row z in the away end. Pulled rank with a late free-kick on the edge of the box but, in hindsight, probably should have allowed Suarez to have a crack as he screwed it wide. His challenge on Adam Smith was worse than the ones that earned Cathcart and Watson bookings while he was lucky the ref pulled play back for a foul on him by Arter as he launched overzealously into Andrew Surman.

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Odion Ighalo 5.5
Handed a goal on a plate by Artur Boruc in October, Ighalo never looked like scoring here. “He’s just not hot right now,” said Rene Gilmartin on commentary. Suffering a similar new-year dip to the one Matej Vydra did in 2013. Saw a shot deflected into the side netting and volleyed a Paredes centre inches wide of the post but missed the chance of the match when he headed over an Amrabat cross from six yards out. Two months ago he’d have scored that with his eyes closed. In fact, he did just that from a similar position, from  a similar ball from Behrami against Liverpool. Lost the ball cheaply in dangerous areas and looks like he needs a goal to go in off his backside to renew his confidence. He tailed off badly after producing some classic Ighalo play very early on, powering and muscling his way past two defenders before getting a shot away. The nature of his recent performances is why we advocated signing someone like, say, Emmanuel Adebayor who you can summon from the bench when it’s just not Deeney or Ighalo’s day.

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Substitutes
Mario Suarez 6.5
Put Deeney through on goal with a perfectly-weighted ball over Francis and Steve Cook but the striker was unable to make the most of the opportunity. His passing was neat in his 30-minute appearance. It would be a surprise if he did not start the match at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Almen Abdi
Had less than ten minutes to make an impact but took only seconds to earn a round of applause for a beautiful piece of skill. A loose pass out of the Watford defence looked destined for Surman, who had taken up a good position, but Abdi pounced and performed a pirouette to spin round the midfielder before winning a free-kick. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite enough to earn the Swiss a rating.