The Hornets were able to sting the Owls for all three points at Vicarage Road in what was a mostly lackluster match.
The hosts were always favorites to win the match, with the return of Philip Zinckernagel and Ismaila Sarr to the starting eleven further giving Watford a personnel advantage. Xisco Munoz’s men came out of the gates strong. Adam Masina’s inch-perfect cross-pitch aerial pass to Sarr allowed the Club’s record signing to hit a low cross intended for Isaac Success. Tom Lees turned the ball into his own net before the ball reached Success. The linesman raised his flag so as to say the Nigerian striker was offsides, but after deliberation with Chris Kavanagh, the goal was rightfully awarded.
The rest of the match was without too much goal-mouth excitement. Although Watford had most of the better attacking spells, Sheffield Wednesday ended the match with 52% possession. The three points were necessary for gaining separation from Swansea and Brentford, though the obtaining of the points was far from pretty and not one of the Hornets’ stronger performances as of late. But, considering the untimeliness of the international break, tired legs as a result of it, and inclusion of multiple returnees from injury, a slight drop-off in the first match back is understandable. Nonetheless, a crucial three points were picked up from a spirited, albeit not overwhelmingly strong, performance.
Daniel Bachmann: the Austrian shot-stopper put in yet another strong claim as to why he should continue to be the Hornets’ number one. He grows in confidence when it comes to coming off of his line/commanding the box every week and moved smartly to preserve the 1-0 lead at the end of the first half. A great performance overall from Bachmann and another clean sheet.
Kiko Femenia: the Spaniard put in yet another solid performance. This was not one of his loudest matches, though he moved forward well on a couple of occasions and was defensively sound. His relatively quiet match was not his fault, and he did what he had to well.
*William Troost-Ekong*: although Sierralta has stolen the spotlight as of late, Troost-Ekong deserves a tremendous amount of praise for his performance. Despite captaining Nigeria in the middle of the week, Troost-Ekong looked rejuvenated and lively. He dealt with the Sheffield Wednesday aerial threat well and looked solid throughout. This was a true man-of -the-match performance from the summer signing.
Francisco Sierralta: Watford’s surprise gem put in yet another applaudable performance. He commanded the air well for the most part and the opposition attack rarely got behind him. He picked up a pointless yellow card, however, as well as being partially responsible for giving up a big chance at the back post due to his skewed heading of a cross. Still, Sierralta was strong throughout.
Adam Masina: besides his perfect distribution to Sarr in the lead-up to the goal, the Moroccan had a relatively quiet match (as most of the squad did – as was a common theme of the match). Despite looking fatigued at times, he did well to not get beat and put in some good standing challenges to prevent crosses from entering the box late on.
Will Hughes: the former Derby County player continues to stake his claim as to why he is the best central midfielder in the Championship. He sat in front of the defense well and was an unsung pacemaker throughout the match. Although lots of his contributions get overlooked due to his deep position on the pitch and lack of involvement right in front of the net, Hughes did not do much of anything wrong. Always reliable, composed, and accurate.
Nathaniel Chalobah: the captain was unable to fully repeat the stellar performance he put in against Birmingham City – with his highlights Friday coming mainly when not in possession. He still played solidly and captained the Club to a hard-fought win, but he will be looking to offer a bit more on the ball next time out against Middlesbrough. Admittedly, the bar for him, especially considering recent performances, is already very high.
Philip Zinckernagel: like his partner in the attacking-midfield of the 4-1-4-1 variant of the 4-3-3, Zinckernagel did not have as much of an influence on the ball as he could have considering his abilities. Admittedly, the Dane is coming back from an injury that has seen him without minutes for nearly three weeks. Still, the creativity that has made him a must-start player was missing for large parts of the match.
Ismaila Sarr: the pleasantly surprising inclusion in the starting eleven continued to show glimpses of why some of the top clubs in the world are vying for his signature. It was his sublime first touch and cross that led to the own goal. He wreaked havoc on the Sheffield Wednesday defense on other occasions too. Statistics alone do not justly explain his performances: this match is a prime example of that.
Isaac Success: his return to fitness is great to see. Unfortunately for Success, he let chances go begging that other strikers in the Club likely would have done better with. Some aspects of his play, such as his hold-up abilities, are starting to come to the fore, but overall, him replacing Joao Pedro centrally (albeit due to fitness/injury-induced reasons) dials down the Hornets’ attacking threat. Despite getting into good positions, his finishing ability was not there for the second match running. When other strikers in the Club miss multiple good chances despite their own good movement, they are given low ratings for it.
Joao Pedro: always looking a threat when on the ball, the 19-year-old nearly doubled Watford’s lead with an impressive cross-body strike at the end of the first half. He made some threatening runs and dribbles before he was forced off with an injury. When fitness issues around the club permit, however, Pedro needs to be moved back to his natural central position.
Andre Gray: the Jamaican international team player looked lively when he came on for Success in the 61stminute. He worked his way behind the opposition defense well on a couple of occasions, and he pressed impressively as well. If Pedro needs to miss time, Gray might have done enough to have usurped the central-forward spot from Success.
Dan Gosling: he slotted in well for Philip Zinckernagel. The former Bournemouth man did not detract from the team’s performance. However, 30 minutes was not enough time for him to make a memorable impact.
Ken Sema: his coming onto the pitch was impressive considering he played for Sweden on Wednesday. He hardly saw the ball during his 20 minutes on the pitch.
Carlos Sanchez: despite previously doing well in his cameos from the bench, Sanchez looked off the pace after being introduced to the fray in the 84th minute. He made a couple of poorly-weighted, awfully-timed passes to the defense in the closing stages of the match, giving Sheffield Wednesday unnecessary chances at late parity.
**Note: disagreeing with player ratings is common and understandable. Also, do not use player ratings from one match as an overall indication of a player’s talent/contributions to the Club. The rating is solely a numerical value to summarize how Watford Opinions viewed and analyzed an individual’s match-day performance.