Following Watford’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night, Javi Gracia has admitted he is disappointed in his side who failed to profit from a good opportunity to take points off one of the top six Premier League teams.
A first-half header from Craig Cathcart sent one corner of a depleted Wembley crowd into jubilation, however the Hornets threw away their lead in the dying stages as late strikes from Son Heung-Min and Fernando Llorente completed a dramatic Spurs turnaround.
Having squandered numerous goalscoring chances during the game, Gracia could not help but feel a hint of remorse despite only narrowly losing to one of the elite teams of England’s top-flight.
“My feeling is that today we’ve missed a very good chance to get points against a very good team like Tottenham are.”
Defeat tough to accept
Watford beat Tottenham 2-1 back in September to extend their perfect winning run to four games at the beginning of 2018/19 — as such, a win at Wembley on Wednesday would have seen the Hornets do the double over Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
However it simply wasn’t to be for Gracia and his side. Truth be told, his players were desperately holding onto their lead from the moment Cathcart’s header rippled the back of the net, and there was an element of inevitability about Son’s equaliser and Llorente’s winner in the 80th and 87th minutes respectively.
“It’s true they dominated the game with more possession, some moments with some chances, but after scoring first I think we defended well. In the last 10 minutes we’ve conceded two goals and it’s difficult to accept.
“But it’s a good sign for us that the team is very, very disappointed.”
Gracia highlights a good point, and something which is becoming a regular theme for Watford this season. Bar a 3-0 loss to Liverpool in November, Watford have lost four games 2-1 and another 2-0 against top six sides, and there’s a strong case to say the Hornets deserved more from all of them — a stark improvement on the batterings endured by Gracia's two predecessors, Walter Mazzarri and Marco Silva.
Ruing missed chances
While Spurs were the better team on the night, Watford had the chances to add at least one more goal to their tally from the match. Had they been able to do so, it would have been difficult to imagine Tottenham clawing themselves back into the game in the manner in which they did.
And Gracia recognises the gravity of missing such opportunities.
“In the second half we created some chances,” he said. “I know Tottenham dominated the game but we had chances with Troy [Deeney], Gerard [Deulofeu] and Isaac [Success] as well and in these games you need to take those chances.
“If you don’t do it, you know in the last minutes they will put on more offensive players, change their shape, try to score more goals and in that moment it’s difficult to attack and be able to make different passes. It’s a shame because I think the team played a good game.”
Although Thursday brings the hectic period of Transfer Deadline Day, Gracia avoided questions regarding ins and outs and instead decided to focus on the visit to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. The Hornets will be hoping to get back to winning ways at the Amex Stadium.
“I think tomorrow it will be the first day to prepare for the next game and we only have two days to prepare.
“We are playing a lot of games away in this period. From Newcastle last weekend we will play nine games away and only two at home, and in this moment I’m only thinking about recovering the players we have and getting ready for the next game.”
With regards to transfer dealings, Watford don’t currently have concrete deals in place to bring anyone in before the window shuts, though a rumour has emerged this morning that Chelsea could make a swoop for Hornets midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré who is currently injured but in contention to return against Brighton — however, that deal is likely to materialise as the club will be keen to keep hold of one of the most important components in Gracia’s team.