Watford 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion: Seagulls punish placid Hornets
Brighton capitalised on a Watford side low in confidence

On what should and could have been a happy homecoming for Watford's new managerial team, Ray Lewington and Roy Hodgson, Watford were punished for a lack of confidence and defensive ineptitudes by Brighton & Hove Albion at Vicarage Road.

Story of the game

After defeat away to West Ham United in midweek and a drab goalless draw away to Burnley last weekend, Watford returned to Vicarage Road desperate for their first Premier League win since November.

The Hornets welcomed the high-flying Seagulls with the visitors looking to improve on their current ninth place standing and in a confident mood, having not lost to Watford since 2018.

Graham Potter’s side controlled the game from start to finish and enjoyed the majority of possession.

The Seagulls first chance game in the seventh minute as Jakob Moder fired a strike straight at Ben Foster from the edge of the box. It was a sign of things to come.

Ten minutes later, Moder turned provider as Pascal Gross sent a free-header over the bar from eight yards.

A minute later and Foster was again called into action as Neil Maupay was given all the time and space in the world to shoot from twenty yards but Foster parried the effort wide.

Watford had their first chance in the 25th minute. Emmanuel Dennis carried the ball 40 yards but with Joshua King free to his right and baring down on goal, Dennis backed himself. 

Dennis looked to have lost control of the ball as he ran into Lewis Dunk on the edge of the box but won a free-kick for his efforts that Dennis then fired high and wide.

It proved to be Watford’s only chance of note in the first half.

In the 41st minute, Dunk sent another free-header over but Brighton did not have long to wait to break the deadlock.

In the 43rd minute, a Tariq Lamptey crossed bounced into Maupay on the edge of the box and the Brighton forward showed his class as he calmly hooked the ball into the top corner passed a helpless Ben Foster.

It proved to be the final action of the half but things didn’t get much better for the Hornets in the second half.

Even with the introduction of Senegal international and AFCON winner, Ismaila Sarr at half-time, Watford could not create a goal-scoring opportunity.

it took until the 63rd minute for Watford to breach the Brighton defence but Dennis fired an effort against the bar from 10 yards when it seemed easier to score.

It was all Brighton after that.

Moder went close to extending the lead for the visitors in the 66th minute as his effort was deflected wide and seven minutes later, Marc Cucurella hit a shot straight at Foster from 12 yards.

Brighton finally scored their deserved second with eight minutes to go as Adam Webster capitalised on a scramble in the box to smash a loose ball in from 2 yards to put the game beyond doubt.

The goal was indicative of Watford’s frail defence and the final minutes further demonstrated their low confidence in front of goal as they continued to huff and puff but to not avail or creativity.

Unfortunately for Watford and Roy Hodgson, all recent performances point downwards and the defeat leaves them rooted within the Premier League relegation zone.


Low confidence

The run and decision-making of Dennis in the 25th minute perfectly summed up Watford’s recent form in front of goal, or rather the lack of it.

With King free to his right and a 2 on 1 developing, Dennis hesitated, panicked and wasted a golden opportunity. It was the only time today that Watford doubted themselves.

Dennis, King and Joao Pedro - to name just a few culprits - were off the boil and off the pace. Watford lacked any sense of urgency and even Sarr’s introduction could not change the tide.

Watford enjoyed less than 35% possession for the majority of the game and even with the ball showed a defensive bias that fizzled out any small opportunities to attack the visitors.

In both tactics and capability, it seems that Watford are bound to bounce straight back to the Sky Bet Championship with a whimper.

Possession game

With no more than 35% of possession throughout the 90 minutes, Watford were up against a dominant Brighton outfit and did little with the ball when they had it.

Watford sat back and invited the visitors to attack at will - much to the amazement of home who had to endure a torrid display in which the Hornets managed just one shot on target.

If the Hornets are to have any chance of survival, they will need more of the ball and more opportunities to score goals but time is running out.

Stand-out player

Jakob Moder

Brighton’s midfielder was a threat all game and Watford could not contain him.

Moder’s positioning showed a presence of mind beyond anyone else on the pitch and seemed to always be in the right place and the right time but that was not down to luck.

Dennis and King could learn a lot from their counterpart today.