For a fleeting moment Ben Watson thought he’d won it for Watford. His shot from 20 yards in the dying seconds of Saturday’s match against Everton seemed destined for the far corner.
“I was off celebrating,” said Watson who knows a thing or two about late winners. Unfortunately for the midfielder, and for the Hornets, Everton’s goalkeeper threw out a strong left hand and denied Quique Sanchez Flores’ side from clinching a victory which would’ve have taken them to 40 Premier League points.
“It was a fantastic save,” Watson said. “He made a few of them. The main thing was that we wanted to make it hard for Everton and I feel we did that. It is a result that stops our run of defeats and we can build again from here.”
The draw should provide a much-needed confidence boost to Watford and get them back on an even keel. They played well, albeit were under pressure at several points. Importantly, however, they halted their run of league defeats, which had risen to four following the abysmal showing at Arsenal. They need to stop the rot. The spirited nature of the performance was a bonus.
“We knew that wasn’t good enough [at Arsenal] and we needed a reaction,” said Watson. “I felt we got that. Maybe it was [inevitable form would tail off] but we’ve got an FA Cup semi-final to come and we didn’t want to be going into that on the back of six or seven losses.”
What is certain following yesterday’s game is that no player, even Troy Deeney who was dropped at Tottenham Hotspur, is safe in the starting XI. Sanchez Flores made five changes to his side, one of which was to restore Jose Holebas at left-back and dramatically drop Nathan Ake, one of the head coach’s favourites, from the matchday squad.
“The manager is paid to pick the team,” Watson said. “We’re paid to go out there and perform. There were couple of changes that perhaps the team needed. Jose has worked hard and he got his chance today. I thought he was excellently defensively and he obviously popped up with the goal. So credit to him, he’s been working hard and fully deserves it.”
Yesterday’s game may not be the last time Watford come up against Everton this season. Both are in the FA Cup semi-final and could meet again at Wembley should they overcome Crystal Palace and West Ham United/Manchester United respectively.
“I think it would be nice to have a rematch of the 1984 Cup final,” Watson said. “Speaking to a few of the staff and a few of the boys, it would be great. But we’ve got a tough game in the semis to take care of first. We’ll see what happens after that.”