It certainly won’t be dull watching Watford this season, that’s for sure.
The Hornets have scored as many goals as a Tottenham Hotspur side expected to challenge for the Premier League title, yet, prior to the weekend, they had shipped as many as relegation fodder Sunderland. Those of you who got your season ticket at the Early Bird price will certainly be getting your money’s worth this season.
“I am an attacking manager, a manager who likes to attack,” declared Walter Mazzarri. “For me, it’s about scoring one more than our rivals,” he added in a line straight out of the Kevin Keegan book of, ‘If they score three, we’ll score four’. If it’s clean sheets you are after then Espanyol, the team coached by Quique Sanchez Flores, and not Watford are the team to watch.
Watford should not be doing cartwheels over a clean sheet against a Boro team with the joint second worst offensive record in the league, but it’s a starting point. At least it stopped the team’s run of conceding goals from crosses which is the worst in the league.
“We put a lot of attention defensively,” said Mazzarri. “What I mean is crosses, corners and free kicks, which we were allowing a lot more in the previous games. In the first half we were making some mistakes on the right side, we were allowing them too much space. I corrected some of the things at half-time and we didn’t allow them anything else for the second half.”
Mazzarri deserves credit for his work on the training field last week as he only had the full squad at his disposal for three days. The work largely focused on keeping the aerially proficient Alvaro Negredo out of the box and away from goal.
The head coach also had to field his fifth different back-three configuration, with Sebastian Prodl, Younes Kaboul and Miguel Britos playing together for the first time.
“We had a good attitude so it makes it easier to have a clean sheet,” Prodl told the club’s official website. “There were some rumours that we were not able to keep a clean sheet. We proved them wrong.” Didn’t they just.
Sterner defensive tests lie ahead, starting at Swansea on Saturday and, more pertinently, away at free-flowing Liverpool at the start of next month. We’ll know more about the suitability of this three-man defence in the coming weeks.
“With three at the back…sometimes it’s different than a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1,” said Jose Holebas. “We take it game by game. We have to avoid the mistakes from us. Middlesbrough only had chances from our mistakes.”