Diego Costa is the pantomime villain at away grounds this season and, for a short period, was hardly the flavour of his month with his own fans. You can expect the Vicarage Road crowd to get on his back tonight if he leaves one on Craig Cathcart or Miguel Britos early in this intriguing Premier League clash.
Quique Sanchez Flores has seen it all before with Costa during the year he had with him at Atletico Madrid. He coped with the spiky Brazilian reporting back for pre-season considerably overweight and had to prevent the board from flogging him to Granada on the cheap. Sanchez Flores is credited, in Spain, with resurrecting Costa’s career, and the pair caught up post-match following the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day.
“I was talking with him,” said Sanchez Flores “I love Diego Costs because I trained him for one year. We have a good relationship.”
Sanchez Flores has a similar kinship with Sergio Aguero. The Manchester City forward told his former mentor what a “difficult team” Watford were to face after the game at the Etihad. Costa was equally complimentary about the Hornets.
“He told me, ‘I love your team, congratulations’. I said, ‘Diego you are more quick than before and those two goals [against Watford] are too much. We were joking with each other.”
No laughing matter, however, has been the way Watford were beaten, at the death, in two successive games in the space of three days by two of the other Premier League big guns, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. Added to late goals at Everton and at home to Manchester United, Watford have thrown away at least five more points and possibly six in the concession of sucker-punches. Watford’s last Premier League team had the same chronic habit in 2006/07, conceding 16 points in the last nine minutes of Premier League matches. It’s in the final stages of a Premier League game where the depth of a squad and superior fitness levels come into play.
“It is not easy as we try to explain to the players we are playing well but we lost,” said Sanchez Flores. “They want to win and we did everything to win, so it is important for the coach to the keep morale, more than it is [to work on] technical or tactical. We changed the dynamic and are ready to be really positive again.”
Expect Mario Suarez to charge off the bench and help padlock a point or even three if Watford get the chance this evening to end their losing streak against the big boys.