Hull City manager Mike Phelan described the defeat to Watford as "cruel" and "unlucky" and that was certainly the case for the goal as Roberto Pereyra's flick bounced off Michael Dawson and past David Marshall. Yet statistically and analytically, few could argue that the Tigers were not outplayed in North London.
Watford take advantage of a Hull side sitting far too deep
It was a quite incredible contest at Vicarage Road as Watford hammered 22 efforts at their opponents' goal, failing to hit the target with all of them, yet still managing to win the contest 1-0.
A Watford side not necessarily known for their attacking credentials had a far too conservative Hull team to thank for their dominant performance. Playing a 3-5-2 formation, The Tigers sat with nine or ten men not only behind the ball but covering the edge of their penalty area. The Hornets enjoy passing the ball but are not the most adept in the league and Hull may have been better advised to pressurise and get in the hosts' faces.
When the visitors did win the ball back, they often found themselves with no options as the gap between midfield and the striking duo of Abel Hernandez and Will Keane was far too big. The familiar outcome was a quick turnover as Watford soon found themselves on the attack once more and Hull managed just a 72% pass completion rate.
Amrabat versus Clucas proves key
Walter Mazzarri and his scouting team had clearly done their homework on the visiting Tigers. In their previous contest, Hull had been outclassed by Stoke City and an inspirational display by Xherdan Shaqiri against Sam Clucas on the right flank. Winger, turned defensive midfielder, turned left-back Clucas had been inspirational earlier in the season as he played the anchor role for Hull but has been showed up in recent weeks at full-back.
This time it was the turn of Nordin Amrabat as 46% of Watford's attacks went through the right winger. Numerous opportunities were created by the wide man as Clucas could not get close to him at any stage of the game. It came as no surprise when the opening goal came on 83 minutes after a cross from that side of the pitch, albeit by right-back Daryl Janmaat.
Another concern for Mike Phelan will be how uncompetitive his team were in the air. Watford won 62% of aerial duals, many of which coming in the opposing penalty area from attacking set-pieces. The Hornets are not the tallest of sides but Hull could find such an area problematic against more threatening target men in the coming weeks.
It will be back to the drawing board for Phelan in training this week with plenty to work on as they seek to climb out of the relegation zone. Yet Mazzarri will be hoping for more of the same as his team hunt the European places.