On a rain-soaked day on the South Coast, Watford’s resilience resulted in a late equaliser keeping the Saints winless at home this season, as they remain flirting with the relegation places.
Watford came out on the front foot with some early chances on target from Gerard Deulofeu, who looked lively straight from the off. As has been the case on numerous occasions this campaign, the Hornets dominated possession in the early phases and looked to make the break through. Despite this, it was Mark Hughes’ men who took their chances and after Roberto Pereyra’s misplaced clearance in his own box, the ball fell to Danny Ings who worked it to Manolo Gabbiadini who could not miss from close out.
Watford lacked the clinical nature they usually posses and clearly struggled without midfielder, Etienne Capoue. Gracia’s men were missing something and should have been two goals down on 66 minutes, however, Charlie Austin’s perfectly lawful goal was deemed offside as officials determined Maya Yoshida had affected the play from an offside position.
It got worse for the Saints as with time expiring, Jose Holebas picked up a pass form Deulofeu and riffled the ball off of the back of Cedric Soares, past Alex McCarthy, to put the Hornets level.
Watford’s missing piece
Javi Gracia gave Nathaniel Chalobah his debut start in the Premier League for the Hornets, as Etienne Capoue was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. A part of the Hornets game that has dominated all season long, was a shadow of its former self against Southampton. Chalobah failed to impress alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure with the pair failing to get their self into the game and effect it in any way.
VAR needed once more
Regardless of where you loyalty lies, there was some poor officiating today. Charlie Austin had a 66′ minute goal disallowed as the officials thought Maya Yoshida impeded Ben Foster while in an offside position. At the other end of the pitch, Ryan Bertrand cut down Chalobah, clearly not getting the ball, but play continued. Both of these non-calls could have had repercussions in the final score with both sides feeling aggrieved the officials were not on top of their game.
Injuries play a key role
Both Javi Gracia and Mark Hughes went to their bench early with Danny Ings picking up a hamstring injury and Will Hughes being forced off as a result of a hip injury. The only positive for Gracia was that he was able to bring back club captain, Troy Deeney, who has been missing for the last three games due to a hamstring struggle.
While we don’t want to point fingers at the officials, they did play a key role in the result. While Watford failed to impress for the second week in a row, heading home with a point, given the conditions, was a positive result for Gracia’s men. As for the Saints, it’s another disappointment letting the possibility of their first home win slip through their fingers late.