Watford scored their first away goals since January as they beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor to give them maximum points from the first two games of the Premier League season.
Strikes from an English trio consisting of former Claret Andre Gray, captain Troy Deeney and Will Hughes sent the travelling fans into delirium as the Hornets secured a first win on the road after a gruelling nine-month wait.
Gray opened the scoring after just three minutes with a spectacular volley, finishing off an impressive move from the Hornets. However, less than five minutes later, England international James Tarkowski equalised for the Lancashire outfit with a free header close to the penalty spot.
For the rest of the first half, Sean Dyche’s side enjoyed the best of the chances, however, a dominant display in the early stages of the second period put Watford out of reach.
An inch-perfect pass form French engine Abdoulaye Doucouré set Deeney up exquisitely to put the Hornets back in the driving seat, before a long-range effort from Will Hughes rounded off the scoring.
Burnley fought to get back into the game, with substitute Sam Vokes most notably coming close form a header, yet Javi Gracia’s side defended resiliently and were good value for their win.
A team effort from the Hornets
In the 2-0 win over Brighton last weekend, Watford played well but were reliant on a brace from Roberto Pereyra to earn a victory. In contrast, this was a much more collective performance from the Hornets, who defended and attacked as a unit and appeared to be very much on the same wavelength.
For much of the game, Watford were under the cosh as Burnley’s patient style made winning the ball back an arduous task. Yet the visitors remained patient themselves and capitalised on the chances that they fashioned.
The team in yellow and black limited Burnley’s options in attack and eventually learnt to cut out the ball down the channel, which is such a crucial feature of the Clarets’ style of play. They also produced impressive and precise buildup play which caused plenty of problems for the hosts’ defence.
Strength down the spine — literally, and figuratively
Central defenders Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele handled Burnley’s strikers all game and — minus a minor blip for Tarkowski’s goal — gave goalkeeper Ben Foster a quiet afternoon in Lancashire. Cathcart also superbly blocked an effort from Chris Wood in the first half, one which seemed destined for goal had the Northern Irish international not put his body on the line.
A midfield pairing of Doucouré and Etienne Capoue, while it wasn’t their busiest match, were pivotal to the Hornets’ attacking football, linking the defence and attack and relentlessly winning the ball in central areas.
Strike partners Gray and Deeney both made the scoresheet for the first time in a single game and linked up to devastating effect for Burnley’s defenders. The latter in particular had one of his best games for months in a Watford shirt.
A key feature of Gracia’s team has been their physical strength. Now the tallest team in the league, Watford dealt with Burnley’s aerial threat and appeared to win the majority of the 50/50 tackles.
A win on the road
Prior to this win, the Hornets had lost 11 of their last 12 away games, picking up just a point in that period and failing to even score since Gracia took over in January. The Spaniard will be pleased to lay that particular record to rest.
The difference between this game and away games last season was Watford’s positive football, showing a relentless will to bring the ball forward and challenge Joe Hart in the Burnley goal. About four months ago, the players’ heads would have dropped after conceding the equaliser, however, the Hornets remained intent on securing the win and justly reaped the rewards for their endeavour.
Watford now carry brimming confidence back to Hertfordshire as they prepare to face Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road next Sunday.