Date: 6th January 2013 at 10:50am
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30. Jonathan Bond – 8

Considering the Welsh youth international was making just his second professional start for the Hornets and just the 18th of his professional career, the 19 year-old excelled.

I for one have to admit to being a bit apprehensive prior to kick-off at the prospect of not having Manuel Almunia’s experience at the back, but with Nyron Nosworthy in front of Bond, I need not have worried.

Bond was commanding and brave, and pulled off a couple of terrific reaction saves. We very much have a man ready to step into Almunia’s boots when he is no longer here.

12. Lloyd Doyley – 9

What more can be said about Sir Lloyd Doyley that has not already been said? It’s a cliche to spout it, but any aspiring footballer should watch Doyley in every aspect of his professional life.

Despite being out for at least a month with a calf problem the Hornet’s Mr Reliable came back in and was exactly that, as usual.

Comfortable on the ball and defensively too, Doyley is surely part of our strongest back three alog with Fitz Hall and Tommie Hoban.

33. Nyron Nosworthy – 9

In a word: immense.

The Brixton-born bruiser was another who has been out for a good couple of months, yet looked like he had never been away on his return.

Marshalling the defence with confidence, the former Sunderland centre-half looked far from out of place after a shaky start to the beginning of the season.

For me, the experienced Jamaican international has to be picked ahead of Neuton. He actually made a block tackle at the opposite end in the second period which was audible to Hornets supporters!

41. Joel Ekstrand – 7

Solid as ever and had to work twice as hard at times to help out the beleaguered Daniel Pudil who was having his work cut out by James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta doubling up on him.

Ekstrand is everything you could wish for in the modern centre-half; strong, aggressive, good in the air, and very comfortable on the ball.

On one or two occasions he was guilty of trying to over-play it, but I can’t criticise that because I’d definitely rather see passing football & the occasional hazard that brings than hoofball.

27. Marco Cassetti – 7

Worked tirelessly and had a reasonable amount of joy attacking Gael Clichy.

On several occasions the Italian could have delivered a better cross, but he still put in a couple of telling deliveries – one of which Troy Deeney was extremely unlucky not to bury in the second-half at 2-0 down.

His experience was important and for a player of his age he gets up and down very well, always providing width and an outball.

4. John Eustace (c) – 7

Yet another who was making his long-awaited return from injury, the captain was all over the place & his experience alongside Chalobah’s guile was a nice combination.

At 33, Eustace was always going to be fighting a losing battle physically with Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia but the midfielder gave it a good go – as always.

39. Nathaniel Chalobah – 9

Chalobah has been sublime this season and even the step up in opposition failed to faze the recently-turned 18 year-old.

This is a player who will undoubtedly make it to the higher echelons of the game, with or without Chelsea, who for the record, would be daft to let this genuine talent slip through their fingers.

His vision, awareness, coolness on the ball and first touch are second to none in this squad and probably most players I’ve ever seen in a Watford shirt.

18. Daniel Pudil – 5

Given a hard time by the aforementioned Milner and Zabaleta doubling up on him, Pudil worked manfully to prevent the tide coming down the Hornet’s left-hand side.

By no means a poor performance, Pudil was pegged back very effectively by the Citizen’s right-flank pairing and as a result was unable to press forward in his normal gung-ho manner.

Withdrawn at half-time.

20. Matej Vydra – 7

Worked tirelessly despite an understandable lack of service throughout.

Pushed into a wide right-flank role when Watford didn’t have the ball, Vydra ran his socks off as ever and created a few goalscoring opportunities for the ‘Orns.

You fancy that on another day, against lesser opposition, he would have scored at least once.

9. Troy Deeney – 7

What a story. Vital Watford regulars will know that I called for Deeney’s departure upon his incarceration, but if we leave the politics aside, his transformation from jailbird to playing at Manchester City is a helluva romantic thriller.

He had one good chance and was unlucky that NBA centre-cum-City ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon reached the ball for him. In his current form you would have backed the Brummie to bag had he reached the ball first.

Leading the line on your own is tough, against Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott it’s even tougher, yet Deeney attacked his thankless task with absolute relish.

Get the boy a new contract Mr Duxbury & Mr Nani!

41. Fernando Forestieri – 8

‘Fessi’ was another who showed that a step-up in difficulty did not faze him.

The Argentine-Italian worked his little socks off running the channels, helping out defensively and stretching the City backline at every opportunity.

For me, the epitomy of our change is style and Forestieri’s own technical ability was him taking the ball down on his chest inside the penalty area, controlling, looking up and effortless clipping a ball into the midfield for his target. Oozes class.


5. Neuton – 6

I’m not the Brazilian’s biggest fan, but this was an auditon for a different role. With less defensive responsibility the former Gremio man had a lot more licence to get forward and he loved it.

Tested Pantilimon with one decent effort.

37. Mujangi Bia – 5

Lurches from lazy & out of it to dangerous.

38. Cristian Battocchio – N/A

Didn’t really have time to impact.