A promising season has filtered out into mid-table mediocrity and a disappointing exit in the FA Cup semi-final for Quique Sanchez Flores' Watford.
Defensive frailties prove costly
The manner in which Watford were dumped out of the competition by Crystal Palace was just as disappointing as the result for the Hornets fans. A lack of energy and creativity plagued the North London club, although poor defensive organisation eventually cost them the match.
Watford would only have been too aware of Crystal Palace's ability at set pieces, yet after just six minutes the team in yellow and black were unlocked by that very scenario. Watford defenders lost Palace attackers not once but twice, as Damien Delaney stole a march on Craig Cathcart to flick Yohan Cabaye's corner to Yannick Bolasie who was afforded far too much room by Troy Deeney of all people.
The Hornets also struggled throughout the game with closing down Palace's tricky and pacey wingers and marking powerful strikers in the box. Substitute Adlene Guedioura was too slow to close down Pape Soare who delivered a cross to Connor Wickham, the striker finding himself marked by little Nathan Ake in a complete mismatch as Watford's defence found themselves all at sea. Wickham applied the finishing touch, both to the move and the match as a whole.
Problems at both ends of the pitch
Watford were lucky they did not concede more through similar mistakes. The next best chance of the first half after Bolasie's opener fell to Yohan Cabaye, who found himself with ten yards between himself and the nearest Hornets defender on the corner of the box, as the entire Watford team found themselves in central positions. Right back Allan Nyom went missing, before central midfielder Ben Watson eventually came to close down Cabaye, although the Frenchman had already taken aim and released his effort.
Just before Wickham's winner, Bolasie was able to escape down the left wing and force a save from Costel Pantillimon. Attacking Nyom's area of the pitch, the right back was fifty yards away from the action strolling back on the halfway line.
Watford are also finding life difficult at the other end of the pitch. Other than Jose Manuel Jurado's corner for Deeney's goal and a couple of searching crosses fro, Nyom, Deeney and striker partner Odion Ighalo had next to no service to feed off. Watford fans will be increasingly concerned that this is becoming a common theme for their side, as their central midfielders continue to struggle to penetrate the opposition penalty area.