AFC Bournemouth and Eddie Howe look to put right their lack of points in 2017 with a victory over mid-table rivals Watford. All previous Premier League encounters have ended in a draw. Will Saturday’s game buck the trend. Jon from Watford podcast and fan site ‘from the The Rookery End‘ doesn’t think so.
Q. A few Bournemouth and Watford fans will be bashing away on their keyboards before the game. But, how do most Watford fans view AFC Bournemouth?
It’s too easy these days to mistake the views of a few keyboard warriors to be that of the norm, so it’s harder to understand what the Hornet in the street makes of the Cherries. We know where the perceived rivalry comes from. A contentious decision in the last Championship campaign, followed by Watford throwing the title away in the dying embers of the season. And yes, that does still smart. But I think there’s an underlying respect to it all. Both club’s histories have followed a similar thread having spent a large chunk of time knocking around the lower reaches. Certainly, in recent weeks there have been admiring glances in the way AFCB fought back to beat Liverpool. A passion and desire that has sadly been missing at Vicarage Road recently. We’re not fooled by one thing though. This “aren’t they doing well for a small club” business? We know Mr. Demin’s loaded, we saw how much you spent in the Championship!!
Q. According to the press Watford has been linked with AFC Bournemouth’s Max Gradel. Is he a player you would want?
This might be unfair, but Gradel seems to be one of those players who was going to be the next big thing and before you know it he’s in his late twenties and you’re still waiting for him to explode onto the scene. Possibly because he went off to St. Etienne for a few seasons and then suffered the injury curse that inflicted itself in sunny Dorset last season, pushing him under the radar of a lot of fans. So, that sits him in the bracket of potentially good, whereas Watford really need proven players, especially in the attacking department where we seem to be lacking at present. I like the idea in principle, a player who has the ability to run with the ball and attack players, but can get you goals as well. I’d see him as more of a plan B or a backup. He probably wouldn’t want that. We need more than that.
Q. Watford haven’t won in the Premier League since Dec 10th. How do you think Watford should line up to get a result on Saturday?
Thanks for the reminder. First off, we need to be solid. Walter Mazzarri likes playing 3 at the back. But with none of our centre backs being particularly blessed with pace and the likes of Afobe or Wilson up front for Bournemouth, I’d prefer a back four to try and stop us from getting exploited out wide.
“With none of our centre backs being particularly blessed with pace and the likes of Afobe or Wilson up front for Bournemouth, I’d prefer a back four to try and stop us from getting exploited”
AFCB seem to be suffering from the wobbles at the back recently. If we can keep things solid at the back, we then need to force the issue up front. If we can get Stefano Okaka harrying and hassling the defenders, using his strength to force mistakes, then hopefully he can make something happen up front. More often than not, Walter likes to play with a front two or three, rarely deploying a lone man up front. So, expect to see captain Troy Deeney up top with Okaka.
Q. Who do you think will be the key men for Watford on matchday?
With injuries to creative players Roberto Pereyra and Nordin Amrabat, the Hornets will need other players to step up. That job could well fall to returning loanee Tom Cleverley. Tom make his second Watford debut from the bench at home to Middlesbrough last weekend. In the short time he had on the pitch, he hit the post and played a delightfully dinked ball to give Deeney a one on one chance he couldn’t make the most of. There’s a suggestion that Tom could make the starting xi this weekend. Last year’s player of the season Heurelho Gomes is a doubt for Saturday. The games where Watford have picked up points this season have been tight affairs in the main and the Brazilian custodian has often been called upon to make points securing saves. If he doesn’t make it, then it’s important for backup Costel Pantilimon to show his credentials as a Premier League keeper. I doubt whoever will be between the sticks will have a quiet afternoon.
Q. Which AFC Bournemouth players do you think Walter Mazzarri will be targeting in his gameplan?
Assuming he had the Cherries watched last week, Tyrone Mings, Tyrone Mings and Tyrone Mings! He will play this week, won’t he? And can you fix it that he’ll have another game like last week??!! The poor fellow was clearly involved in all three Hull goals. Having not played much football in the past couple of seasons and featuring in recent heavy defeats, his confidence must be low. Something Watford must take advantage of.
Q. We are just over halfway through the season. How would you assess both AFC Bournemouth and Watford’s seasons so far?
AFC Bournemouth – inconsistent. They just don’t seem to be able to build any momentum. There have been highs like the aforementioned Liverpool result and the win at Stoke. Yet defeat at home to a currently poor Southampton side and last week’s loss to Hull.
Watford – risky. We started ok, but recently it’s threatening to spiral in the wrong direction. Injuries have cost us and from the way the heads drop when we concede, it’s all getting a bit much for the players. It needs to change or Walter’s job could be on the line. Having said all that, I’m sure both sets of fans would be happy to finish the season exactly where they are now.
Q. Every meeting between Bournemouth and Watford in the Premier League has ended in a draw. How do you see the game ending Saturday?
It would be great if we could get an end to end clash like the one we had at Vicarage Road earlier in the season. There’s a nervousness about both sides at present though. It could be a lot more scrappy, a tad less skilful. I envisage it being described as a Championship like game post-match. And it will be a draw. Again. Let’s say 1-1, with the odd near miss and lucky escape.