Battling Burnley beat lifeless Watford


Burnley 2-0 Watford –

Burnley were without Andre Gray. They had just lost 3-0 at Leicester. They were playing a Watford side that had gained back-to-back wins. How would they cope? Superbly. In an industrious performance, two headers from Jeff Hendryck and Michael Keane saw the Clarets to a 2-0 win over a lacklustre Watford side.

In the first half, the Hornets too often lumped the ball to Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who did not provide enough movement. The system could be blamed to an extent, Nordin Amrabat looking uncomfortable when defending while Etienne Capoue was at times forced into an unnatural left-midfield position. The lack of control provoked Roberto Pereyra to drop deeper out of frustration, meaning Watford did not test Tom Heaton often enough.

Much of that was down to Burnley’s high-tempo pressing, players adapting well to the rare 4-5-1 formation. Sam Vokes provided power up top while summer midfield additions Jeff Hendrick and Steven Defour worked relentlessly. The duo combined for the first goal, Defour’s corner headed in by Hendrick, a slow-looking Valon Behrami unable to fulfil his role of covering the near post.

Watford started the second half with more intent and Deeney forced a save from Heaton on 48 minutes. Burnley scored against the run of play two minutes later though when, following a corner, Michael Keane headed home Defour’s excellent left wing cross. After that goal, they dropped deeper and allowed Watford to have the ball just inside their half.

The midfield worked remarkably hard to deny space and protect full-backs Matthew Lowton and Stephen Ward. Whenever Watford tried to move the ball into the final third, there was always at least two players blocking their path.

Some shaky defending from Miguel Britos among others let Burnley in on goal on a few second half occasions, Defour’s shot forcing a sharp save from Heurelho Gomes. Watford showed flashes of promise, Isaac Success impressing off the bench, but their biggest spell of pressure came in the last five minutes when it was too late.

Deeney was typically forthright in his post-match interview, saying his team were bullied and that Burnley wanted victory more. This was Watford’s worst performance of the season, so their reaction against Bournemouth on Saturday could give us a clearer idea of the mentality of the team and therefore, the type of season they could be in for.

The Hornets are now level on points with Burnley, who appear to have a bit more quality in possession than last time they were in the Premier League. A second win and clean sheet in six games completes a solid start to the campaign, as Dyche’s troops continue to battle against the odds.