Watford switched to zonal marking to try and cure set-piece woes

Troy Deeney revealed Watford switched to zonal marking from corners as they sought to solve their problems from crosses into the box.

Jonny Evans headed goal meant 15 of the 24 goals Watford have shipped this season have been a result of balls delivered in the box from wide areas. Five have directly come from corners and when you add the two penalties they have given away and Chris Brunt’s free-kick, it means Watford have conceded a league-high of eight goals from set-pieces.


Walter Mazzarri decided to change the way Watford defend from set-pieces in midweek, deviating from the man-marking system.

“You know what they [West Brom] are all about and we didn’t mark well on the first goal,” Deeney told BBC Sport. “We tried to change something, do zonal. You can say it didn’t work but you could say it did work because they didn’t score again [from a corner]. We’ve got to start doing the basics again.”


Quique Sanchez Flores kept things simple last season, particularly in light of the amount of new players and different languages in the squad. He kept two in the six-yard zone, had five marking, two on the edge of the box and one up top. The upshot was they were in the top five of the fewest goals conceded from set-pieces last season.

“Without the goals, they [West Brom] didn’t force many saves and it’s frustrating because we didn’t give them a lot of chances but we have conceded three goals,” said Christian Kabasele. “It’s another goal from a set piece, and when you concede two goals like this it’s difficult.”

Below we analyse each of the 15 goals Watford have conceded from balls into the box this season:

1 – Jose Holebas failed to spot Nathan Redmond peeling off him and then got in Heurelho Gomes’ way, allowing the forward to slam in the loose ball into an unguarded net from a corner.


2 – Etienne Capoue loses Michael Antonio from a Mark Noble corner – and the winger makes no mistake with a firm header.


3 – Again at the London stadium, Antonio is all alone at the far as he stoops to connect with a Dimitri Payet rabona.


4- Theo Walcott is afforded too much space on the right, firing in a low, teasing cross that Alexis Sanchez scrambles in at the far post.


5 – Sanchez checks in on his right foot, whipping an inswinging cross past Amrabat that picks out the brilliantly timed run of Ozil who ghosts into the space between Kabasele and Holebas to nod in.


6- Zlatan Ibrahmovic is allowed to stand up a cross that eventually falls to Marcus Rashford who prods home from close range.


7 – Jose Holebas is at fault as Jeff Hendrink loses him from a Steven Defour corner to head back across goal and into the far corner.


8 – Miguel Britos is powerless to prevent the marauding Michael Keane from rising highest to head in a Defour cross.


9 – Callum Wilson gets across the front of Sebastian Prodl and nods the ball under Gomes at the near post.


10 – Sadio Mane nips in front of Daryl Janmaat to flick in an inswinging cross from Philippe Coutinho following a short corner.


11 – Adam Lallana is allowed to get a cross in from the left and Emre Can runs off the back of Nordin Amrabat and gets above Janmaat to head in with ease.


12 – Etienne Capoue doesn’t do enough to prevent Lallana feeding in a cross from the left – and Roberto Firmino escapes the attentions of Valon Behrami to tap in.


13 – Jose Holebas fails to prevent a Firmino cross from the right and Mane benefits from some non-existent marking from Younes Kaboul to score from close range.


14 – Charlie Adam, who is not renowned for his aerial prowess, peels off Behrami, who could argue he is nudged in the back, to head past Gomes.


15 – Kabasele allows himself to be outmuscled by Jonny Evans who heads in a corner from Chris Brunt.