We actually did it.
We benefitted from VAR.
It was the correct call too with Jota unequivocally denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Still, it’s a shame he didn’t get his shot away as Watford’s goal was rarely threatened from that point onwards with the extra man doing little to aid our efforts.
If anything, they were a tougher nut to crack with 10 men, abandoning any attacking adventure in favour of sitting deep and closing the gaps. It worked very well.
The lesson is, don’t be two goals down in the first place.
Dendoncker’s loose pass cancelled out some encouraging moments in a closely contested first half, gifting the ball to Deulofeu in the exact area of the pitch he likes it – great finish in fairness.
Jimenez was similarly wasteful in the build-up to their second, but even so, it felt too easy for Doucoure to engineer the shooting angle.
Little to no surprise that once Dendoncker was restored to the back three and Neves introduced in midfield, we dictated the remainder of the game.
I’m pleased for Neto as he was again lively and direct throughout. He deserved the luck that helped him open his Premier League account for the second game running.
I wouldn’t have given him the hook either as I felt he had more to offer in the remaining minutes. Jimenez – who didn’t have a great game – could have gone off with Jota deployed down the middle perhaps?
Either way, Neto is the major positive to come out of these back-to-back defeats. He’s proven himself a very capable option in attack.
On the other end of the scale, it’s unfair to single out Ryan Bennett, who did little to directly damage our prospects, but it’s undeniable to me that we’re infinitely weaker when we don’t have three good ball-playing center halves.
That’s one area I expect to be addressed in the coming weeks.
For now, we just file this one away as disappointing, learn from the mistakes and move on.
And if you need a pick me up, just remember we lost the first game of 2019 too and things didn’t turn out too badly in the end.
Happy New Year!