Heurelho Gomes: 6.5
A better performance than in recent matches. His kicking was particularly solid, something that’s been a problem over the last few games. Could do little about Patrick Van Aanholt’s goal while he did get down smartly to save from the Dutch full-back late in the first half.
Juan Camilo Zuniga 6
Is starting to turn into Walter Mazzarri’s Jose Manuel Jurado. It should have been Daryl Janmatt who started this match but, surprisingly, the versatile Colombian got the nod. Was quite solid, not doing anything overly great but, at the same time, not doing anything terrible. Was replaced by Isaac Success in the second half.
Sebastian Prodl 7
Another injury to add to Watford’s woes but luckily it’s since been described as minor. Was still the best Watford centre-back on the pitch and he only played 30 minutes. Was dominant in the air, as he always is, but also did well to keep pace with Jermain Defoe.
Miguel Britos 6
Not his best day. Seemed quite sluggish and slow, and was caught ball watching when Defoe peeled off him to assist the winning goal. He’ll also still be wondering how he didn’t bulge the back of the net with a header from a Jose Holebas free-kick.
Younes Kaboul 6
His first return to his old club since his move south, and the Sunderland fans will hardly be rueing the sale on the evidence of this performance. You got the feeling it might not be his day when, virtually from kick-off, he tried to shepherd the ball out for a goalkick but, under pressure from Victor Anichebe, end up conceding a cheap corner. Struggled to deal with the pace and power of Anichebe thereafter. Was moved to the centre of the back three when Prodl came off but looked no more at home.
Jose Holebas 7
He was Watford’s most potent attacking threat at times in the second half. Almost mustered an equaliser when his goal-bound shot was blocked by Jason Deneyar. However his inclination to push forward left Watford open on the left-hand side – and it was in the space between him and Britos that Defoe sneaked in to create the winner. Had the chance to rescue a point with a late free-kick but completely wasted it.
Nordin Amrabat 7
By Amrabat’s high standards this was a very quiet game. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that he came up against a full back in Van Aanholt who could match the Moroccan’s pace and power. However the lack of movement from the strikers didn’t help his cause. He must have thought he had registered his first Watford goal only to see Jordan Pickford pull off a wonderful flying save to stop the ball nestling in the top corner. You worry for Watford when Amrabat goes to the African Cup of Nations.
Etienne Capoue 5
Has been described on social media as a luxury player, something it’s difficult to argue against when you assess his recent performances. He was a complete bystander here and let the game bypass him completely. It’s all looking very similar to last season when his performances tailed off at an alarming rate once the nights drew in.
Valon Behrami 5.5
Behrami actually played well in the first half, breaking up play quite well, but in the second half he went missing completely and was overrun by the Sunderland midfielders. It was as though they just wanted it more. He didn’t lay a glove on Adnan Januzaj when he skipped past him in the move that led to Sunderland’s winner.
Odion Ighalo 6
Actually didn’t play too badly today. Looked like the Ighalo of old when he was twisting and turning Donald Love to win his side a corner. Held the ball up well and ran hard for 90 minutes. Could have had his second goal of the season had it not been for a superb touch at the near post by Love and then a Pickford save late on.
Troy Deeney 4.5
Deeney has been pretty ordinary for a few weeks now and if Stefano Okaka and Isaac Success were fully fit and he wasn’t the captain, he could have had few complaints if he was left out on form and not just because he had four bookings. In one promising first-half move he tried to square the ball to Ighalo. If he’d delayed the pass, for two more seconds, Ighalo would have had a tap in. Had that incident been the other way round there would have been uproar. Deeney still spends too much time moaning at his teammates instead of trying to make something happen.
Christian Kabasele 5
Brought on for the injured Prodl and did very little to impress. Went down in a heap after a collision with Anichebe when, in fact, he was barely even touched. He had no answer to the power of the Sunderland forward and should have done better to cut out the Defoe cross which led to the winner.
Isaac Success 7.5
If, on the back his last two cameo appearances, he doesn’t start on Boxing Day then Mazzarri’s handling of him must be questioned. As soon as he came on at the Stadium of Light, Watford instantly looked more of a threat. Defenders have no answer to his pace and power, and have to, more often than not, resort to fouling him.
Daryl Janmaat 6
If he was fully fit then he should really have started. The former Newcastle man got a frosty reception from the Sunderland fans when he did eventually appear. Tested Pickford with a rasping drive but offered very little in attacking terms as he was stationed at right-back.