Southampton picked up their first win in over a month and a half in the FA Cup and now looks to build upon that when they visit Watford today.
To get in the mood, we once again chatted with our friend Andy Lewers at The Hornets’ Nest to get the lowdown and if Saints has a chance to avoid a second sting.
St Mary’s Musings: Tell us about The Hornets’ Nest and any new projects you have been working on since we last spoke.
Andy Lewers: I started The Hornets’ Nest before the 2013/14 season as a little personal project. It was meant to be somewhere I could just rant and moan about the difficulties of being a Watford fan. Nowadays though it’s become a bit more than that and I’m proud of how it’s grown and the fan interaction that’s come with it. I’m also currently working for the Watford Ladies as one of their analysts which has been a great experience for me to develop in an area I’m really interested in.
SMM: Watford are currently 10th in the Premier League –- has this come as a surprise to find immediate returns under Marco Silva?
AL: I think before the season if you had told me we’d be 10th at this stage of the I’d have been very happy. It goes to show though just how good our start to the season was as I look at the table now and I’m disappointed with where we sit. I don’t think it should come as a surprise that Silva’s managed to make us a top half team, if he’d had a better squad at Hull they would have stayed up at our expense!
SMM: A host of clubs including Southampton were reportedly interested in bringing in Silva as manager. What have these clubs missed out on and what does he bring to Watford that the previous manager didn’t?
AL: Well firstly let’s just get the elephant in the room out the way, he speaks English, which Walter Mazzarri couldn’t do. I think also we’ve seen (certainly in the early part of the season) some quick, attacking football. Under Mazzarri and Flores we had the tendency to be slow and let the opposition regroup in defence before we attacked. That being said we’re still seeing the defensive frailties that previous managers had, so that’s not been address, though we are suffering from an obscene number of injuries.
SMM: What are Watford’s expectations for the rest of the season and how do they compare to the start of the campaign?
AL: Having fallen away from the European spots after our lightning start, I think the aim is now to finish in the top half of the table. It’s a shame because I really thought we were onto something good, but we’re struggling for form and now looking nervously over our shoulders. However, after last season we were coming into the new campaign simply wanting to hit that 40 point mark again and staying in the league.
SMM: Richarlison has been an impressive signing for Watford, but what is it about him that makes him special?
AL: I love his confidence. As soon as he gets the ball you can see there’s just one thing on his mind and that’s to run at the defence and put them under some pressure. His attitude is excellent as well. He works for his team mates and won’t roll around on the floor after being hacked down. He was knackered over December, but after being rested last week hopefully he’ll be back at full fitness on Saturday.
SMM: That said, are there any areas Watford need to improve in January and do you see the board making any moves?
AL: Quite a few… We’ve been riddled with injuries at the back this season, so that’s an area that needs addressing urgently. In addition two of our strikers can’t seem to score and the other one doesn’t get a look in when it comes to starting!
SMM: Watford ran out 2-0 winners at St. Mary’s in September. What has to happen for the Hornets to repeat that success?
AL: We’ve lost a bit of the magic that we had at the start of the season. It would be great to get that back again this weekend. I think to repeat the success we just need to be confident in our ability and get some team spirit back in the dressing room.
SMM: What is something unique about Watford that the larger footballing world might not know?
AL: In 2009, Sir Elton John held a fundraising concert for the Hornets in the midst of all our financial woes, with the proceeds going directly to the club specifically for player transfers. He raised £600,000 and didn’t earn a penny. A week later we bought Troy Deeney for £500,000 from Walsall and the rest as they say, is history.
SMM: Who on Watford should Saints fans be concerned by?
AL: Abdoulaye Doucoure has been outstanding so far this season. He can break up play, hold the ball and as you guys will be well aware, score a goal or two! Watford’s shape and tactics hinge on Doucoure having a good game, he didn’t play against Brighton and we just looked lost. Keep him quiet and you’ll have a chance.
SMM: Likewise, who on Saints will pose a problem for Watford on Saturday?
AL: Shane Long always seems to get a goal against us, but I’ve liked the look of Sofiane Boufal since he joined. With our makeshift defence he could cause us some problems. Thankfully you don’t have the height of van Dijk anymore to take advantage of our poor zonal marking from set pieces…
SMM: Finally, a prediction?
AL: A nervy 1-0 to the ‘Orns…
We would like to thank Andy for taking the time to chat to us about Watford! Be sure to check him out on Twitter @AndyLewers and The Hornets’ Nest. You also might catch him from time to time on BT Sport’s fan featured videos!