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Watford 2 Leicester City 1 (03/11/2012) 03/11/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from a well-earned victory

1- Not sure what it is about Leicester. Admittedly the Foxes have been relatively frequent opponents over the past thirty years or so… but the number of memorable, exciting or noteworthy games is striking. Today’s encounter was more understated than the last three editions of this fixture, each of which has been turned by a late goal and each of which had swung hither and thither throughout. Nonetheless… this was absorbing, enjoyable, occasionally breathtaking stuff that didn’t permit attention to wander or discussion to drift.

2- A theme of recent thunks has been the evidence of gradual improvement – evolution amidst the revolution. More evidence of this today. In many respects the pattern of the game and the challenges presented were comparable to Middlesbrough almost a month ago. Then, as today, we started strongly against competent opposition and took the lead before fading as the visitors found a foothold. The plots deviate entirely just before half time, of course, since today we were spared a ludicrous dismissal to force a rewrite of the second half script, but comparisons of the opening periods reflect improvement in the interim. Particularly defensively of course; much as Leicester had spells of pressure and we rode our luck a little at the end of the first half there was none of the flimsiness that had already cost us the lead against Boro by half time. Hall, Hoban, Doyley all tremendous again, it will be interesting to see how we cope with disruption to what suddenly appears to be a settled first eleven if Onesize’s injury keeps him out on Tuesday. But it was more than just defensive improvement; our early dominance against Boro owed a lot to good use of width, to pulling Boro from side to side. Today our movement and control sliced Leicester to unstitchable threads, culminating in Abdi’s gorgeous and calmly taken opener.

3- We’re in danger of reserving a thunk every week for Fernando, but it’s not as if one can ignore him. Here, too, there was clear evidence of improvement. Yes, his decision making at the crunch wasn’t always what it might have been, and yes there was evidence of frustration as he tired in the second half. But here, for the first time and sumptuously, he linked up with the colossal Deeney to devastating effect. Dropping deeper than previously, even tracking back to snarl into a tackle on a surprised Anthony Knockaert who he left on his backside, this was a far more industrious, less fitful performance than we’ve seen previously, whilst still displaying his astonishingly quick feet and incomparable ability to hang on to the ball. Significantly, he stayed on his feet throughout – scarcely credible in the context of his earlier performances – and his goal celebration, a running high five along the front of the Rookery, was a thing of joy.

4- There were other strong appearances out there, too. Admittedly I missed Charlton, but this was as complete and robust a performance as I’ve seen from Almen Abdi, who supplemented his poise with the ball with industry without it and lasted almost the full 90. Both Cassetti and Pudil impressed; the former hasn’t looked a liability since the change in formation gave him the luxury of Doyley on the cover, whilst Pudil’s form has fluctuated less obviously but has arguably not exceeded today’s performance.

5- However narrow the ultimate margin we were well worth the win. Leicester weren’t hugely impressive – although Kaspar Schmeichel perhaps deserves a little sympathy for a couple of terrific saves, not least the stop from Pudil prior to Forestieri’s tap-in – but it’s worth reflecting that at this early stage we have played the current top four and should probably have beaten all of them. The stated aim of consolidation this season, further communicated through this week’s professionally handled fans’ forum, is entirely sensible. But since the side settled down, we’ve not been bettered by anyone.


1. Lesley-Anne - 03/11/2012

Very good thunks as usual, Matt.

I would add to your strong performances in Thunk 4 the fast improving Tommie Hoban, who plays with a maturity well beyond his 18 years. A lot of the attention has been focused on Nathaniel Chalobah as a highly talented youngster but Hoban has been quietly doing his job calmly and confidently. He could even have been a candidate for man of the match today.

Sean - 04/11/2012

Completely agree, what a fantastic player we could have on our hands. I can’t remember Mariappa being this good at 18 and look how he turned out! Hoban never seems to switch off which is rare for a young player, he is vocal, has a turn of pace, is a strong lad, wins his headers, makes blocks and he is always there to smack a cross away which shows his positioning is top notch as well. He’ll have a big test against Henderson and Wood on Tuesday but I have complete faith in him. Saying that I hope Hall is fit!

2. Iain J - 03/11/2012

Glad to hear Cassetti was on form today, he has a lot to offer this team but defensively he’s been a worry. I disagree with your assessment of the improvement with Doyley inside; he was ripped apart by Noone in the first 20 minutes at Cardiff. However, I do feel he has the ability to learn to cope with the wide men this division has to offer.

3. Adrian - 03/11/2012

I thought Lloyd was imperious today. Great week for Watford – excellent Fans’ forum, open day and 3 points.

4. Marco - 04/11/2012

Go Watford Go ! From Udine

5. MartinG - 04/11/2012

Totally agree with Thunk 3 and have to say that today Deeney showed pace, touch and won the ball in the air. I’ve never been a big fan but he did play well. Abdi is different class, his passing is so clever and economic. Worth the ticket just to watch him and Forestieri, whose goal celebration was so long he was lucky he didn’t get booked. Great stuff.
Leicester played their part. None of this parking the bus malarkey. Even with 10 men they gave it a go. Roll on Tuesday.

6. hornetboy84 - 04/11/2012

Excellently written Matt. It smacks of considered contentment.
My reservations have been blown away by the passion showed by our imports but the spine of the team is now distinctly British so it’s a great balance.
Is Bennett back from his loan? May need some west ham heroics and even consider big Chris at CB vs Millwall power.

Matt Rowson - 04/11/2012

Bennett came back injured. I guess Ekstrand, if fit, Nosworthy, if fit and Thompson at a push are theoretically possible replacements for Fitz. However you really need someone as physically dominant as Fitz with Lloyd and Tommie either side. Else they could revert to a flat 4.

7. SteveG - 04/11/2012

First visit to the Vic since the pre-season friendly with Spurs, and keen to see whether how the comments on here and elsewhere and what I’d heard on 3CR matched with reality. This was an impressive and entertaining afternoon, and if the last 10 minutes were a bit more nail-biting than they might have been, it was still a very important victory, which bodes well for the future.
Hoban – a friend who’s a Wealdstone fan had told me what a class player we had here – this was a performance of exceptional maturity and composure.
Doyley – great to see that he’s won yet another manager over, and that there’s a system here that plays to his strengths.
Forestieri – fantastic entertainment, and if he can get his brain to fully connect with his feet (and Deeney) he’s going to be one hell of a player.
My programme told me that 32 players have been used already this season, but it does look as though that Zola has got a clear idea now of what his first team looks like, and that stability can only be a benefit as well (unless, of course, you’re one of the players left out)

8. Leggatts 'orn - 04/11/2012

Clearly. Peanut M&Ms is answer when playing blue teams.They did the business against Bruminghum and their second outing this season worked yesterday. Bring on the Lions!

Matt Rowson - 04/11/2012

good work. I had ordered Fish and Chips by accident in the pub before Peterborough so stuck with that. Boost felt right for half time.

Back from Hammerau - 06/11/2012

I was forced to forsake my usual ‘lucky’ turnstile (for both Watford and Saracens games) because someone had got themselves stuck in it and look what happened.
Will have to re-think my strategy.

9. Mark S - 04/11/2012

Re thunk 1 ” Admittedly the Foxes have been relatively frequent opponents over the past thirty years or so… but the number of memorable, exciting or noteworthy games is striking”
Have to disagree!
In the past 2 seasons we defeated much fancied City 3-2 ( last season with a great winning goal from Forsthe of all people ).
The season before that, trailing 0-2 at half time,Graham and Helguson between them turned it around superbly for us to lead 3-2 only for Leicester to nick a 90th minute equaliser
Even away from home I remeber go to Leicester when Martin Allen was ( albeit briefly ) in charge we lost 1-4 despite a Marlon King goal.I remember not too far back we also we got hammered 1-5 under MacKay..

Matt Rowson - 04/11/2012

um. yeah. that was my point.

straightnochaser - 05/11/2012

Actually the “season before that” was also a 3-2 home win with courtesy of Danny Graham’s last minute Rookery end header. The H- inspired 3-3 was the season before THAT…

10. Roger Smith - 04/11/2012

I still think that Cassetti is too defensive to be an effective wing back, and his years limit his ability to get up and down for 90 minutes. You rightly highlight Forestieri’s new found ability to tackle back so, at least at home, he would be my choice, with a starting place for Vydra, who did 90 minutes’ work in the 15 that he was allowed with added time.

But with such quality on the bench, why wait so long before bringing on fresh legs? It takes time for a player to get into the game (Vydra excepted!), so you don’t need to wait until someone is out on their feet before replacing him.

11. James - 04/11/2012

A thoroughly entertaining game from start to finish but, in a way, it shouldn’t have been. We should have killed Leicester off in the first half.
I really think we have to find some way to get Vydra into the starting 11. From what I’ve seen he’s the best attacking player at the club right now. The Deeney-Forestieri partnership, while hugely entertaining, is anything but clinical.
The back five were magnificent. Doyley and Hoban in particular. Pudil was looking like man of the match right up until he misjudged a back-post cross and let Nugent take it down in the box, but nevertheless, a great performance from him overall. I really hope Fitz Hall isn’t out for too long.
The midfield isn’t quite settled yet. Hogg looked better playing deeper, with Chalobah further forward, but in the second half Chalobah looked increasingly lost as Leicester closed us down. It was another good performance from Abdi. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Eustace is fit again.

12. Mark S - 04/11/2012

Um sorry! I thought you meant there has been a lack of decent matches between the two sides…..I must read each think twice from now on 🙂

13. Mark S - 04/11/2012

* Thunk even *

14. Nick - 04/11/2012

Yesterday was my favourite game of the season (aside from charlton). I thought we played some lovely stuff throughout the game but we also looked solid. Hoban is turning into a wonderful centre back and proving previous hype was not misguided.

Forestieri is a rough diamond, he has some obvious things to learn but Zola is probably his perfect teacher. Chalobah will have better games than yesterday but we sometimes forget he’s 17.

Tuesday will be difficult and it will be interesting to see how we front up to a stronger more direct outfit.

15. Nige in Oz - 05/11/2012

i don’t normally bet but i just wagered money* on us winning the championship. then another few bucks on a top 6 finish and a seeming banker for us to finish top 12 (odds 2-1). just goes to show us the power and influence of a few well written thunks…(*remember kids, only bet what you can afford to lose)

Matt Rowson - 05/11/2012

BHaPPY accepts no liability for losses incurred.

Naturally if you win , however, we want a cut…

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