Troy Deeney pinpointed the piece of outrageous skill from Dimitri Payet, which he and his teammates deemed as showboating, as the turning point in this afternoon’s thrilling comeback for Watford.
Payet teed up Michail Antonio for what looked like a match-clinching second on 33 minutes with a rabona. Instead of focusing on damage-limitation, Watford dug deep into their reserves of professional pride and turned the game on its head with four goals in an astonishing 18 minutes either side of half-time.
“You can appreciate the rabona skill is a tough skill to do, but at the same time you don’t want to be embarrassed, so they were doing that 25 minutes in and embarrassing us, and you saw us change,” said Deeney in an interview with Sky Sports. “We started going in, Valon started going in with lots of tackles and we just roughed them up and said, ‘look we are here, don’t mug us off’. Then we picked up, got the two goals and I didn’t think it looked like we were going to lose that game after it went to 2-2 and we did really well in the second half.”
Watford had lost five points from winning positions going into this game – the most in the Premier League – and had also thrown away a lead in the EFL Cup, losing to Gillingham after going ahead. They’d also used 21 players. So it must have been a pleasant surprise for Walter Mazzarri when his team were on the right end of a thrilling comeback at the Olympic stadium against West Ham.
“As a coach, for me, I have the mentality that – as you could see against Arsenal when we were losing 3-0 on the first half – we came with a completely different mentality on the second half,” said Mazzarri. “I always tell my players, don’t think so much of what has happened but think of what you can do. My players know this and I’m very happy that they have this confidence and my mentality.”
Watford overcame 2-0 deficits to beat Leeds United and Blackpool on their road to the top flight, but the Hornets have never come from 2-0 down in the Premier League. Despite this, Mazzarri insists he always believed his side were capable of winning the match – even after Michail Antonio scored his second of the afternoon.
“Another concept that I always tell my players is that my players always have to believe that we can win. Always, until the referee whistles the end of the game. This is a concept that I want, and that I have always done and taught the players I have coached, and I am doing that now.”
The win takes Watford into the top half of the table with four points. Not bad considering many had the Hornets down to have zero after four games.
“I’m very, very happy. Especially to have a win in a game we were losing 2-0 against such a big team and against such a big stadium. It for sure gives a lot of confidence to the players, to the whole team. You know, I’m a new manager here at Watford but slowly we are going to build great things.
“As I said from the first game, the important thing that I’m looking at now is at the way we’re playing and not so much at the results. Even in the previous games we had to have a better result but unfortunately they did not come. But now we are doing much better, and if we continue like this it will be a great tournament.”