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How Watford rated players as they secured Premier League status

Heurelho Gomes 9.5
Just give him the Player of the Season award now. Made Premier League history by saving two penalties in a match for the second time. The second was magnificent and if there was a save of the season, he’s won that as well. Commandingly dealt with crosses into the box and pulled off a sharp reaction save to tip a Gareth McAuley header over the bar in the second half. Only blemish on his performance was that he conceded the first penalty.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Allan Nyom 6.5
Rene Gilmartin said on BBC Three Counties Radio during the match that “his one-on-one defending can never be questioned”. That’s debatable, but the right-back, back in after being dropped against Everton, had a steady game at The Hawthorns. Started clumsily, conceding a free-kick for a high foot in the face of James Chester and then allowed Stephane Sessegnon a chance to shoot by fouling James McClean on the edge of the area, but improved as the game wore on. Seemed to read every one of McClean’s moves in the second half and shepherded the ball out for a goal-kick on more than one occasion. Rarely bombed forward but Odion Ighalo was unable to find his mate on the one occasion he charged into open space.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Sebastian Prodl 7
It’s usually a good thing when a centre-back is not the centre of attention in a match and that was the case with Prodl here. Most memorable thing he did was kiss Gomes on the top of the head after he saved the second penalty. Did his job with minimal fuss and showed he is a more than capable deputy to Craig Cathcart. Almost got on the end of an Adlene Guedioura corner in the second half but his best moment came five minutes from time with a fantastic sliding tackle to prevent a shooting chance after Mario Suarez dawdled on the edge of the box. Was the first to walk over and thank the travelling fans at full-time.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Miguel Britos 7
Hit-and-miss. Made a series of impressive interceptions but also a couple of uncharacteristic errors. Was partially to blame for conceding the first penalty as he lazily raised his hand for offside rather than tracking Berahino, but made up for it in part by being first to react to Gomes’ save and hacking clear before any West Brom players could meet the rebound. Could, on another day, have seen more than a yellow card when putting a hand on the shoulder of Salomon Rondon who was rushing through on goal minutes after the opener. Improved thereafter and made several timely interceptions, holding nothing back ahead of the semi-final as he stretched every sinew to head away one long ball towards Berahino before, moments later, making a sliding block to stop a cross towards the forward.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Nathan Ake 7.5
Back in the team after watching the Everton match from the stands, Ake showed no signs of rustiness at The Hawthorns. Was switched on from the first whistle and showed maturity that you might expect from somebody the age of Jose Holebas, who is ten years his senior. Showed awareness of his surroundings to do all he could to head away one ball chipped over his head when he knew forwards were running in behind him. Demonstrated good telepathy when attacking with Jose Manuel Jurado down the left and also knew when to stick it in the stands. Gomes had a word with him after a loose back-pass deflected off Britos and almost put Rondon in, but it was the only mistake in an otherwise impressive display.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Adlene Guedioura 6.5
Groans and boos emanated from the away end when Quique Sanchez Flores withdrew him for Suarez. The criticism of the decision seemed harsh as the midfielder did not set the world alight on his first Premier League start in a Watford shirt but, as always, he worked his socks off and that goes a long way with Watford fans. His deflected effort led to the corner which he took himself to set up the opening goal. However, even goalscorer Ben Watson admitted “it wasn’t a particularly good ball”. His whipped set-piece deliveries were generally better than Watson’s in recent weeks and provided Watford with some attacking threat and directness when they were unable to do so from open play. Defended resolutely and showed alertness to cut out a poor clearance before playing in Troy Deeney for a chance in the second half.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Etienne Capoue 6
Seemed to saunter around the pitch again and didn’t really pull his weight. When he did, he gave away a penalty in fairly similar circumstances to the way he did at Bournemouth. Again, Gomes bailed him out. Exhibited his range of passing, including one towards Deeney inside 20 minutes which could have set up a goalscoring chance. Was unable to find an incisive pass to free Ighalo just before half-time when sparking a counterattack, instead opting to attempt a couple of nutmegs and wander back into midfield. You feel that he performs best when the television cameras are there to watch his every move; thankfully for Watford, the semi-final will be one of those games. Better in his natural position than out wide, though.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Ben Watson 7.5
Closed ground on the tally of own goals in the race to become Watford’s third highest goalscorer of the season by doubling his tally to two with a deft touch from a Guedioura corner. Any forward would have been proud of it. Was hustling Darren Fletcher and Claudio Yacob throughout and covered as much ground as anyone on the pitch, diving back into the box to make an interception from a McClean cross moments after opening the scoring. Could have had a tighter grip on midfield but needed help from the underperforming Capoue to do so.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Jose Manuel Jurado 6
A victim of the system and we’ll never really see the best of him when he plays as a left midfielder with defensive responsibilities. It’s not that he isn’t trying, it’s just alien to him so he looks like he’s chasing shadows when dealt with difficult scenarios in his own half. Showed promise going forward, cutting inside James Chester time after time before either finding Guedioura on the edge of the box or testing Foster from range. It was his pass that led to Guedioura pulling the trigger for the corner that led to the goal. Wasted on the left wing but Watford cannot afford to play him in the hole if Deeney and Ighalo both start. Made one dreadful first-half pass in his own box that Jon Marks, Gilmartin and Matt Le Tissier slammed him for.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Odion Ighalo 5
Should have been dropped for this match after a series of poor performances. Never really got into the game and although he showed glimpses of renewed form by darting into the box on more than one occasion, he was always caught up with. He’s either knackered, starved of service, or he’s coasting ahead of the semi-final. Le Tissier said on Soccer Saturday that he’s a shadow of the player who scored 14 goals by the end of January. Followed up some half-decent attempts to hold the ball up with lapses in concentration or strength and went to ground too easily, often puffing his chest out and frowning at the assistant referee for not awarding a foul. Needs a rest on Wednesday in an attempt to rediscover his form.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Troy Deeney 6.5
Realised early on that he would not see much of the ball by playing off the last man, so dropped deep to help out his defence and start attacks from the second line. Unlike others, you can never fault his work ethic but he did look whacked by the end and allowed Darren Fletcher to nip in front of him when you expected him to hold it up. Was relentless in closing down McAuley in the second half, forcing the defender into making a poor clearance. Should have scored after a pass from Guedioura but Ben Foster did pull off a smart save to deny him. Was furious when Suarez fired over in the dying minutes as he knew it gifted the home side another chance to attack.

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Pictures by Franziska Empl. @bluebirdwfc

Substitutes
Mario Suarez 5.5
More and more you get the feeling that he must only be fully judged after a full pre-season. Was peripheral after coming on and his only noteworthy moments were that shot high over the bar from an Ighalo cut back, which Deeney berated him for, and a careless dribble on the edge of his box which lost possession minutes before the second penalty.

Valon Behrami
Was hastily called over by Sanchez Flores from the corner flag, where he was warming up, in injury time. The head coach clearly wanted to run down the clock and shut things down.

Head coach
Quique Sanchez Flores 7

There was, for the first time in a few weeks, logic to his team selection, although, whatever your viewpoint on the Algerian, it’s still odd he’s taken until the business end of the season to call on Adlene Guedioura. Sanchez Flores still needs to show he can field a team capable of playing on the front foot and one who can come from behind to win, but did all you can ask of him here.