A look back at last season month by month
December was another good month for the Hornets as they looked to cement their place in the top six of the Championship. Three wins – with a couple of the victories particularly satisfying – one draw and one defeat in the five games played that month as Watford showed their increasingly clinical nature and ability to win matches by a large margin.
That is exactly how the month started with the 4-1 demolition of Barnsley at Vicarage Road. Despite Barnsley producing a decent showing in the first half and looking dangerous with their three frontline strikers, Watford showed the ability to take the game away from oppositions with three goals in 20 second half minutes. A double from Troy Deeney and strike from Mark Yeates and a Matej Vydra penalty meant that Marcus Tudgay’s last-minute strike was merely consolation.
The following week brought Watford’s only defeat of the month as Steve Bruce’s high flying Hull City took all three points from Vicarage Road after winning the game 2-1. For probably the first time since the Watford side really began to click they were outthought and outmanoeuvred by the Tigers who played a type of 3-6-1 system pinning the Watford full backs in their own half. Goals either side of half time from David Meyler and Robbie Brady sent Watford to defeat. Deeney did grab a late consolation goal for the Hornets which extended his scoring run to six consecutive matches.
Unfortunately Deeney wasn’t able to match the record for goals in consecutive matches for Watford as they travelled to Burnley the following weekend for a meeting with former manager Sean Dyche. The game finished 1-1, although the Hornets had Manuel Almunia to thank as he made some important second half saves as Burnley pushed for the winner. Watford had taken the lead through Nathaniel Chalobah when his volley from a corner which was headed away found the bottom corner. Burnley equalised from a Charlie Austin penalty after Almen Abdi has fouled Dean Marney in the area. Then it was Almunia’s turn to come to the rescue as he made some crucial saves to preserve the point most notably from Sam Vokes.
The following weekend the final match before Christmas saw Watford give their fans plenty to cheer about as they beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at Vicarage Road. Vydra scored both goals as the Hornets ran out comfortable winners, an indication of the hot streak the Czech striker was about to hit. In between Vydra’s two first half goals, Watford’s task became easier when Daniel Ayala was dismissed for Forest for two bookable offences. That result meant Watford went into Christmas in 6th position although their first chance to consolidate that at Bristol City on Boxing Day was lost to the weather.
That meant Watford’s next match was a date with the Sky camera’s at Brighton & Hove Albion as Gianfranco Zola once again came up against good friend Gus Poyet. However unlike earlier in the season at Vicarage Road, it was Zola that came away smiling after witnessing what was later voted as performance of the season. The 3-1 victory did not flatter Watford how executed their counter-attacking game plan to perfection with firstly Deeney catching Brighton cold at the start of the second half. Despite Brighton equalising from the penalty spot through David Lopez, Watford hit back with Vydra scoring two goals in two minutes. The first a slightly fortunate deflected effort which saw a long range effort loop over Thomasz Kuszczak, the second an outstanding counter-attacking goal which saw the ball go from the Watford box to the back of the Brighton next in a matter of seconds. It meant that Watford moved into the new year in 6th place…