How the Watford players fared against Stoke

Heurelho Gomes 7

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Made a top save to deny Jonathan Walters what would have been Stoke’s third goal. The Stoke man had burst clear down the channel between the left centre-half and the left wing-back and was looking to rifle one in the top near-post corner, but Gomes stood tall and made a fine reflex save to palm the ball over. Earlier denied the same player from point-blank range but that was more down to Walters than Gomes.

Younes Kaboul 6

Much more comfortable on the right of a back three than the left. He did his best work in the second half, blocking a shot from the lively Marko Arnautovic and then showing good strength to outmuscle the same player. Miles better than he was against Tottenham.

Sebastian Prodl 5

He’s reverted to the slightly nervy figure from last season and is lacking the composure and air of authority he has increasingly showed in the last few months. He made a basic mistake for the killer second goal, allowing the ball to go under his foot from a harmless cross by Charlie Adam. It was also a shame Adlene Guedioura let Ryan Shawcross wriggle free for the opener as Prodl had, just before, stopped dangerous centres with timely blocks twice in quick succession.

Miguel Britos 6

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Had a good physical tussle with Walters and Peter Crouch and was certainly the most physical of the Watford defenders on his return to the side.

Christian Kabasele 5

You had to scratch your eyes when you saw him line up at right wing-back but then that’s how desperate things have come amid the injury crisis. He was even part of a front four at times. Looked a bit lost and gave away plenty of fouls, eventually earning a yellow card late on for a foul on Arnautovic in front of the lively Stoke bench.

Valon Behrami 6

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You have to give him credit for agreeing to play through the pain barrier but at what cost has his loyalty to Walter Mazzarri come? He looked in real discomfort by half-time and the only surprise was he made it that long. Why, with a dodgy hamstring, he took part in shooting practice is beyond us, and if that’s the type of thing going on at the training ground then it’s no wonder there are stacks of injuries.

Adlene Guedioura 5

Another tough night. Slipped over, got caught in possession and switched off for the first goal that came right on the stroke of half-time when Watford looked to have done all the hard work. Was also guilty of pulling out of a meaty second-half challenge with Ryan Shawcross, probably because he had the African Cup of Nations on his mind.

Etienne Capoue 5

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Produced the best piece of skill of the night when he Cruyff-turned Crouch inside his own box. Other than that he was largely the same as he’s been in the last two months.

Abdoulaye Doucoure 8

Easily Watford’s best player. Energetic, neat and tidy in possession and a real threat cutting in from the left on the break. He couldn’t believe Lee Grant flew high to his left to keep out a curling right-footed effort that was destined for the far corner. He also had Watford’s best chance in the first half when finding himself in space inside the box after a cute reverse pass from Jose Holebas. He probably should have had a pop himself but it’s probably a sign of his confidence that he squared it to Guedioura instead. We liked how, despite not having much match practice, he showed what an engine he’s got by out-running Joe Allen late in the second half.

Jose Holebas 6

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The reverse pass to Doucoure, with his weaker right foot, was arguably the ball of the match. He had his hands full with Mame Biram Diouf but he stuck to his task well. He does, however, have a habit of going down too easily and appearing like he has done some serious damage. He did so in the second half here before eventually getting up, giving the ref a gob-full and then carrying on untroubled.

Troy Deeney 6

Ploughed a thankless lone furrow in attack without much joy or support. He linked up well with Odion Ighalo and fashioned a couple of sights of goal for his strike partner. As always, did his fair share of defensive work and we loved the heroic block he made to stop a shot from Diouf reaching Gomes in the second half. That must have stung on a cold night but Deeney didn’t wince.

Substitutes

Odion Ighalo 4

A mis-kick late in the second half kind of summed up where his game and his head is at right now.

Jerome Sinclair

Starting to get increasing game time after a slow start to his career at Watford. He started off on the left of a front three before finishing up on the right.

Michael Folivi

Became the 59th academy graduate when he came on to replace Prodl. Didn’t get much chance to shine going forward but did show he’s not afraid to put his foot in when fouling Allen.