Watford, rather belatedly, won praise for their ownership model after their rich assortment of overseas players collaborated to record a win that moves them to within one point of sixth place.
The Soccer Saturday panel are never short of a cliched opinion or two when it comes to assessing the Hornets but after watching goals from Etienne Capoue and Roberto Pereyra sink the champions, there were signs they are slowly changing their tune.
“There are 12 games gone, you normally have a good idea of where you should be in the table after this many games, so fair play to them, they have had some good results, beaten some good team and taken points off good teams,” said Sky Sports’ Matt Le Tissier. “They deserve to be there [in eighth]. It is an amazing model they have there, you can’t criticise it, it works for them they are in the top half of the Premier League. There are clubs who would consider themselves to be a lot bigger than Watford who are sat below them.”
Capoue was the first big name the club signed as a year one Premier League side, the Frenchman breaking the club’s transfer record and arriving as a statement of intent. After a season spent with the shackles on, he now has five goals this season.
“We started very well in this game,” he said. “We were very competitive and deserve the three points today.”
Capoue’s finish was of the highest class but he had to play second fiddle to Roberto Pereyra in the goal of the game stakes.
“What a goal from Pereyra,” said Capoue before acknowledging how the Argentine, like all the top players, mixes inspiration with perspiration. “He works so hard in training and he deserves that goal. I hope he scores many more.”
So does Mazzarri, who was more than happy to rubberstamp the deal for a player put forward by owner Gino Pozzo and technical director Filippo Giraldi this summer. Pereyra is an emblem of the new-look, forward thinking Watford under Walter Mazzarri.
“We wanted to attack from the beginning,” Mazzarri said. “We did the same [in the 1-0 win] against Hull City but unfortunately we couldn’t score. But this is our idea. We always want to attack from the beginning.”
They also minded the shop well in what was a vastly-improved display from the shambles at Anfield. Leicester threw everything they had at Watford after going two goals down but, aside from the Riyad Mahrez penalty, never really troubled Heurelho Gomes.
“They tried to hit long and get second balls but all our players did well,” said Britos who was the club named as man of the match. Sebastian Prodl and Younes Kaboul were just as good; Daryl Janmaat and Nordin Amrabat dovetailed well down the right but it was another unlikely player who caught the eye of Derek Payne, on BBC Three Counties radio.
“I thought Zuniga was absolutely brilliant,” he said. “He showed his experience in how to defend against Mahrez.”
Payne went on to hit the nail squarely on the head when assessing this group of players. “It’s about consistency now,” he said. “The team can’t be as good as they were today but as bad as they were against Burnley and Liverpool.”