The Hornets were unable to replicate their impressive opening-day performance in a 2-0 defeat to Brighton. The hosts were always favored to win the match, but the ease with which they did it was a shock nonetheless.
Daniel Bachmann: not at fault for either goal and tremendously let down by the men in front of him. Not much action otherwise.
Craig Cathcart: playing as a right-back for the second successive match, Cathcart had a shaky performance. He was one of Watford’s few aerially sound players, and in his defense, he performed better than Watford’s opposite full-back.
William Troost-Ekong: weak in the air and played an atrocious pass in the direction of Cleverley to gift the Seagulls a two-goal cushion. As with many players in the Watford squad, he had a performance to forget.
Christian Kabasele: although not overwhelmingly solid, he performed better than his center-back partner and was sounder in the air.
Adam Masina: should be seriously worried about losing his starting spot now. He was arguably Watford’s worst player against Aston Villa and lots of people would agree he was the Hornet’s biggest weak spot in this match too. His defensive positioning and awareness were poor throughout, and he was also the man to lose his marker for the opening goal of the match. He did not provide much of anything going forwards either. Danny Rose, if his fitness permits, deserves to get a chance as the starter.
Ken Sema: as poor as Masina was, Sema did not give him enough support in the first half. Especially considering the Swede is known for his defensive soundness despite being an attacker, that trait did not show in the first 45 minutes when Brighton were causing overloads on the left. He had a couple of decent attacking moments, but he was unthreatening overall and does not appear to be the Hornet’s best option for the left-wing role (more on this later).
Imran Louza: Watford’s most-expensive signing of the summer had an underwhelming debut performance. He looked to play his signature through-balls on a couple of occasions, though largely to no avail. However, considering the flow of the first half, he did not get enough opportunities to show the best of his talents.
Peter Etebo: following a stellar Watford debut, Etebo was unable to help the Hornets gain an ounce of control in the midfield. Still, he defended robustly and was one of the few players who had sufficient positional awareness.
Tom Cleverley: like Louza and Etebo, he was unable to give the Hornets a foothold in the midfield (though with Brighton attacking frequently through wide positions and the Hornets struggling to defend in those areas, Watford did not get many chances to cement their spot in the heart of the pitch). He was also partially at fault for Brighton’s second goal, not being strong while checking in for the poor pass from Troost-Ekong.
Ismaila Sarr: it is hard not to feel bad for Watford’s club-record signing. He was not given the service he requires to be most effective, yet he still provided moments of brilliance to maintain attacking possession and try to open up goal-scoring opportunities. Nonetheless, it was one of his quieter performances.
Emmanuel Dennis: would have scored a brilliant goal to halve the deficit if he had checked his run slightly better in the second half. Ran his socks off yet again and made a few good runs behind the Brighton back-line which caused them their few moments of trouble. He deserves to keep his starting spot as a center-forward for the next league outing.
Cucho Hernandez: he is a must-start for the clash against Tottenham Hotspur next weekend off of the left-wing in place of Sema. He provided a few moments of brilliance and made the left flank threatening whenever he was on the ball. The Colombian put in a teasing delivery across the box with a Sema-esque run and was not too far from scoring an ambitious looping volley. The Hornets looked like a more threatening team with him on the pitch.
Joshua King: performed considerably well when he came on, shaking off defenders with strong turns and dropping back deep when necessary to provide a conduit from defense to attack during transitions of play (notably on the occasion where Dennis scored the offside goal). He could very well have worked himself into starting consideration (which would likely result in a change of formation).
Troy Deeney: joined the fray late on, but he provided lots of aerial threat, something which was missing from Watford’s game for the first 78 minutes. He could very well become the Hornets’ go-to impact substitute considering the different type of attacking option he offers when compared to anyone else in the Club’s books.