The new kit finally came out the wrapper this afternoon but the fresh new formation preferred by Walter Mazzarri still needs plenty of work judging by Watford’s penultimate pre-season friendly this afternoon.
The Hornets were all at sea during a wretched first 45 minutes at Loftus Road and were lucky to be only trailing at the break by a single goal from Sebastian Polter. Watford were outmuscled, out-manoeuvred and outworked in the first period so much so that it looked like QPR who were the side ready to take on Southampton at St Mary’s in two week’s time and Watford preparing for a Championship opener against Leeds United next Sunday.
QPR could have been three up before Polter put them in front on 24 minutes. Watford were all over the show as QPR saw the space offered to them behind Watford’s advanced wing-backs and steamed down the channels, exposing Allan Nyom and Miguel Britos to one-v-one situations. Watford couldn’t get to grips with the strapping Polter and he caused havoc down Britos’ side, especially with Jose Holebas offering precious little protection.
QPR indulged in a half-time bit of fun when several fans made themselves dizzy by running around a pole before staggering towards the penalty spot and trying to regain their bearings and balance before taking a shot at goal. If you were being unkind, you could say they operated with more cohesion and fluidity than Watford did during the first 45 minutes. Things got better in the second half but only just.
It was no surprise that Ikechi Anya, whose crossing was abysmal, and Nyom were dragged at the break as they were both culpable for the goal. Mazzarri could have dragged anyone of the XI really, with the exception of Abdoulaye Doucoure who at least had a go. The Frenchman, however, did make way, replaced by Juan Camilo Zuniga who operated on the right of a midfield three for at least the second time this season. So much for thinking he was a wing-back.
It was, however, the arrival of Nordin Amrabat who finally gave the side some direction and purpose down the flank. His Watford future is in doubt but he showed Mazzarri he is worth considering as an option down the right. He overlapped down the flank to collect a slide-rule pass from Capoue and cut the ball back for Troy Deeney. Only a perfectly-timed tackle from Nedum Onuoha prevented the captain from pulling the trigger. The Moroccan also got past his man to sling over a cross that Jose Holebas tried to connect with acrobatically at the far post.
Mazzarri went for broke at the end, throwing on Isaac Success and Adlene Guedioura – and the Algerian, who doesn’t need a second invitation, tried his luck from range. He also forced Alex Smithies to make only his second save of the game later on. But it was QPR who scored next, with the ball that flashed across the goal from a corner and allowed Conor Washington to nod in at the far post summing up a highly-disorganised defensive display.
“Premier League? You’re having a laugh,” mocked the QPR fans.
Watford: Gomes (Pantilimon 62); Nyom (Kabasele h-t), Cathcart, Britos (Prodl 62); Anya (Amrabat h-t), Suarez (Watson 62), Doucoure (Zuniga h-t), Capoue (Guedioura 75), Holebas (Success 75); Deeney, Ighalo. Subs not used: Arlauskis, Mason, Vydra, Hoban.