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Watford 0 AFC Bournemouth 0 (26/10/2019) 27/10/2019

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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1- It’s not a cold day. No need for layers, not yet. But it’s wet and windy. And it’s wild. I love weather like this. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”… and this is ferocious and invigorating. This is the weather in which heroes are made, the weather in which great deeds are done. The weather in which we claim our first three points of the season, reverse continental shift, put the enemy to the sword. Do stuff worthy of being put to a song, stuff worthy of “do you remember when…” stories in 20, 30 years time.

Or. Or it could be a bit shit and underwhelming. That’s always an option, obviously.

2- The Deulofeu/Pereyra forward line was surprisingly effective a week ago, but always looked likely to be less so against a side that weren’t pushing ponderously forward at every opportunity, lumbering under the weight of expectation. Here the lack of physical presence in attack was more of an issue than it had been at Spurs (and even there it tended to invite pressure in the final minutes due to the fussiness it demanded of any out-ball). We found an effective route out for a while, Adam Masina revelling in his extra inches and bullying Ryan Fraser and Adam Smith in an aerial assault down our left until an overdue Cherries decision to drift the colossal Billing over to that side to stem the tide.

But in general when we fizzed and buzzed we found ourselves wandering down blind alleys borne of the sorry combination of a lack of focal point and a lack of belief. Bournemouth aren’t terrible by any means but they were get-attable here, more get-attable than we exposed.

It might have been very different had Doucouré kept his composure in the opening minutes. Daryl Janmaat – still a force for good if not quite boasting the doggedness that seems to characterise his outings against the loftiest opposition – fed Deulofeu down the right, the Spaniard’s cross was pushed by Ramsdale to the Frenchman who should have scored. That goes in it’s a different game, that goes in and you can see us making hay, actually, much better suited with our newly mean defence to defending a lead and waiting for an opponent to over-commit, as they will surely need to. It didn’t happen.

3- Instead, Bournemouth grew into the game and had by far the better chances in the rest of the half. Jefferson Lerma had the first, wandering in from the right and curling a shot that was carelessly close to the far post and would have been a criminally negligent goal to concede. Later in the half Ben Foster came into his own with a fine low stop to keep out Rico’s drive from distance (the Spaniard taking a break from a succession of foul throws down the left flank, only one of which punished by the arbitrarily fussy Dean), and then again to deny Danjuma with a brave, alert close-range stop. Add Steve Cook twonking a header against the bar from one of a succession of right-wing corners, Masina rather more exposed without the ball than with it, and we were probably a little lucky to be level at the break. The illusion of an upward trajectory based on the last few games was dwindling quickly in the drizzle.

4- In fairness we had the better of the first half hour or so of the second period, our best spell in the game. Gerard Deulofeu bundled his way between two defenders and then left another on his backside before Ramsdale got out well to deny him with a stray limb. Later Will Hughes, who had a pretty miserable time after coming on for Tom Cleverley, another apparent victim of our recent hamstring epidemic, managed to pull out a fine shot with his weaker left foot. As if we’d saved up all our bloody-mindedness and decisiveness for this one moment, so uncharacteristic was this of our attacking play but Ramsdale denied us again, a fine stop extending to his left. Andre Gray, on for Nathaniel Chalobah in the bolder of the two second half changes (unless Adam Masina had a knock it’s not clear what the willing Dmitri Foulquier was going to achieve), did a sturdy job of going toe to toe with the much larger Steve Cook but his lack of confidence was betrayed by slack passes and poor decisions when in possession – nonetheless he was inches away from converting Deulofeu’s right wing cross, and sent a sharp ball across the face that didn’t get a touch after Bournemouth’s defence did one of their occasional jelly things that made you realise that we really ought to be capitalising on this.

5- The game had been peppered with boos for any suggestion of simulation from our spring-heeled friends from the South Coast (and with the odd chorus of “Championes” from the three-man Dorset choir). As so often you’d just got to the stage where you were wondering whether, actually, this was all a bit unfair and that maybe the Cherries’ reputation was causing us to focus unduly on what were marginal calls no worse than happens in any game when they decided to decisively reclaim their mantle. Josh King was clearly winded by Ben Foster’s decisive clearance on our left flank, but quite why he was rolling around holding his face was difficult to understand. Philip Billing was the first of several to collapse on the ground whilst the game continued around him in indifference; this happened to Callum Wilson too, with the exception that Christian Kabasele’s indifference didn’t stretch far enough for him to resist telling him quite what he thought of his cheap lack of professionalism in passing. Wilson seemed to take badly to this, chasing the Belgian back down the pitch and barging him from behind at the cost of a rather stupid yellow card.

In fairness we earned two of our yellow cards for cynical hacks to curtail a break – “good fouls” if there is such a thing, certainly valuable fouls, Dawson and Hughes the culprits. Wilson was the victim of the first, and as above whilst kicking an opponent is never to be applauded, he’d be near the top of your list were it otherwise.

6- The Wilson/Kabasele thing briefly spilled over before the morass of bodies and limbs seemed to think better of it and relocate itself to the penalty area for the wasted corner that ensued. The Rookery was briefly roused by the suggestion of conflict, but what little fizz we had was drowned out by an increase in the deluge which, wind assisted, made the previously uncharted territory of Row SS in the Rookery. Our attacking threat, such as it was, fizzled out but for an optimistic penalty call from a crowded out Will Hughes – the late chances were the visitors’.

Altogether underwhelming to carry so little threat at home but with the absences of Sarr and Welbeck now added to Deeney and Success, any of whom would have made us a much more potent weapon, Quique’s options were very limited. His 2015/16 vintage was a solid base plus enough mischief up front to earn wins. He doesn’t have that mischief up front now, not really, but we shouldn’t start taking that solid base for granted. This fixture last season serves as a reminder of how much worse than a fairly forgettable 0-0 it can get when you’ve got problems at both ends of the pitch.

But a scruffy, lucky win could do with coming along sooner rather than later.

Yoorns.

*Foster 4*, Janmaat 4, Masina 3, Cathcart 4, Dawson 3, Kabasele 3, Chalobah 3, Doucouré 3, Cleverley NA, Pereyra 2, Deulofeu 3
Subs: Hughes (for Cleverley, 10) 2, Gray (for Chalobah, 57) 3, Foulquier (for Masina 73) 3, Prödl, Mariappa, Quina, Gomes

Comments»

1. David - 27/10/2019

Always hard to assess because of the relative quality of the opposition but this didn’t feel an improvement on the Shed UTD game. Chalobah & Hughes did not (as Flores had asked) force themselves into the reckoning. Pereyra after some great recent performances was ineffectual again. The Norwich game is growing in importance but I still think we will stay up this season.

smark392@aol.com - 31/10/2019

Who do you think will go down then?

2. Leavesden 'orn - 27/10/2019

This season has a the hallmarks of the Boothroyd season. Unfortunately..

Blunt attack, keep game tight but then not have enough to turn game in your favour.

Whilst we have on paper a more talented squad, I believe this league is also tougher.

Deulofeu flatters to deceive, is not the person I would want in the trenches with me when the going gets tough. Is he going to score enough to raise our goal scored column. I fear not.

Greedy F#$ker was one of the comments shouted at him by the person next to me in the upper SGT stand. Tended to agree. His decision making is not that required at the moment and he is to often crowded out.

The Norwich game looming, now looks important. Hope Southampton suffer lose of morale for a few weeks yet.

Here’s hoping….

3. PEDantic - 27/10/2019

While I agree with your assessment of yesterday’s performance, I would take issue that the Pereyra/Deulofeu forward line was effective at Spurs. They played much better than against ‘Boscombe’ but I came away from White Hart Lane thinking we would have won, irrespective of the VAR shenanigans, had we had some strikers on the pitch.
This is a team low on confidence, so midfielders with a lack of striking instinct are not what’s required and all we’re left with is hoping Andre Gray has a better than usual day. It’s all rather frustrating, especially with the improved form of the defence, and I fear for us next week against a Chelsea team who will be a different proposition to the doubt-filled Spurs and Arsenal.

Matt Rowson - 27/10/2019

My view was that their speed of feet and thought enabled us to counterattack effectively at Spurs, albeit without enough goals. Add a striker and you lose one of them, would there have been as many chances to convert? It’s not as if we peppered the goal, much as we should have won it.

4. Adam Cummings - 27/10/2019

Thought you were rather unfair on Hughes who worked hard and is left footed!

Matt Rowson - 27/10/2019

Never noticed he was left footed, noted. But no, thought he was ineffective. Never lazy, always works hard. But he looked a bit lost.

JohnF - 28/10/2019

Matt, I presume that comment is ironical, as he actually injured himself last season by trying to use his left foot to clear a ball going wide down his right side. I agree he didn’t look good and I’m not sure why this is. I fear Chelsea, and unless we can get somebody back who can score goals then we will go down this season. It does show how vulnerable we are to injuries but why oh why do we send any promising player out on loan, e.g. Peneranda and Wilmott.

5. CDUB - 28/10/2019

definite injury for Masina (or very least cramp) – signalled to the bench and kept stretching his hamstring.


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