Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis

This post originally featured on our home for all of our football content across the Ronnie Dog Media network, footballfootball.football

Hornets are nothing more than an annoying inconvenience, wouldn’t you agree? Just buzz around annoying the hell out of everyone before fading away into the distance. I could be describing the insect or the football club, Watford. Take your pick. One thing I’m hoping that I don’t have to do next week is pencil an article entitled ‘Wolves Get Stung By The Hornets’, although it’s not outside the realms of possibility as Watford are the best side to visit Molineux since Man City. While we may have taken our time to break down Burnley and Southampton, if we’re honest, the result was never really in doubt. Watford, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish.

As we’ve all come to know (and love) by now, Nuno will set up the same way, 3-4-3/5-2-3/3-4-2-1, dependant on how you look at it. The very same could be said about Javi Gracia at Watford. His front six are set in stone and have been the same every league game this season unless I’m mistaken. Capoue and Doucore sitting in front of the back four, Hughes and Pereyra in front of those and the attack is spearheaded by Troy Deeney and Andre Gray. Deeney and Gray, who both hail from the West Midlands, will both be looking to get on the scoresheet at Molineux, the former will almost definitely give it the biggun in front of the South Bank if he scores.

Explosive Start

One thing is for sure, Watford love to come flying out the traps. In their two most comparable games, Burnley and Fulham away, they scored in the opening five minutes. Their opening goal against Burnley was a great goal and let’s take nothing away from them, however, Burnley’s defence was uncharacteristically shocking. See below.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Andre Gray plays the ball out wide to Deeney. He then continues his run into the box.

Andre Gray comes deep to receive the ball before playing it out wide to Deeney, who drives with the ball down the left-hand side. Gray continues his run before meeting Deeney’s cross first time and leaving Joe Hart with no chance.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
It was a wonderful, first-time finish from Gray. However, you do have to question the room he is afforded.

This was great link-up play between Watford’s two front men and something that Nuno needs to be wary of. As I’ve touched on a couple of times in the past, Neves isn’t the best at tracking his runners, so we need to make sure that we don’t fall into the same trap. There are enough Burnley defenders in the box to deal with the ball into the area and Andre Gray, but the lack of cohesion is there for all to see. Watford’s other two goals from that game were beautiful in their own way. Doucoure’s perfectly weighted through ball split the defence and was tucked away by Deeney and Will Hughes was afforded too much room on the edge of the area as he struck from distance. Most importantly, we’ve got to stay compact and give them no room to function in the final third.

Dangerous From Throw Ins

More recently, against Fulham, Watford once again scored early doors. And again, it was Andre Gray. On this occasion, it all originated from a throw-in, which was, in my opinion poorly defended. Case point number one is below.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Watford’s movement means Fulham struggle to pick them up.

This is just as the throw-in was taken by Jose Holebas. Hughes (far left) is completely unattended and Pereyra and Deeney (the two closest red markers to the ball) aren’t being kept a close enough eye on, either. Fulham have got seven players in the area to pick up four players yet they can’t even do that which is a bit of a worry if I’m honest. Anyway, a few seconds later, we find ourselves here.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Again, Fulham struggle to keep their eyes on their men. Bad defending or good movement? You decide.

Look at how strong that triangle is. So tight-knit, so much in sync, fantastic. At the risk of repeating myself, the defending team don’t cover themselves in glory. Will Hughes is the only player in that triangle that is being paid attention to and that’s purely due to the fact he’s got the ball. It’s like Sunday League stuff. Unsurprisingly, this is how it plays out…

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Hughes plays in Gray, although he could have easily gone the other way. Alternatively, he could have taken the shot himself.

A deft ball to Gray and bang, 1-0. Hughes could’ve just as easily played the ball the other way to Deeney and it would’ve been the same outcome. One of Watford’s biggest threats is that they have goals all over the pitch and Hughes is a superb example of that. His goal against Burnley accompanied with this assist shows that his decision making is improving and bearing in mind he’s somehow still only 23, it wouldn’t surprise me if he makes a move next summer.

Progression Of The Full-Backs

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of Javi Gracia’s side is the development of the full-backs over the course of the season thus far. Burnley was Watford’s first away game and this was how his team lined up from an average position point of view.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Credit: SofaScore.

Daryl Janmaat (2) is very deep in comparison to his ‘mirror’ Jose Holebas (25). With Capoue (29) and Doucoure (16) sitting as far back as they do, there’s really no need for Janmaat to be in that position and against Fulham, the instructions have been fully taken on board.

Wolves Watford Premier League Preview Tactical Analysis
Credit: SofaScore.

As well as Janmaat’s progression up the pitch, Doucoure is substantially further forward as well, leaving Capoue to act as a single pivot in front of Kabasele & Cathcart (27 & 15).

With Kabasele and Holebas both suspended for today’s game, Gracia has no choice but to ring the changes. With Gerard Deulofeu also pretty much back at full fitness, there are a few tough decisions to be made. All in all, it’s good news for us and we can hopefully take advantage of their lack of game time together.

Jimenez To Miss Out?

Raul will want to start today, that much I am sure of. Whether or not he does is another matter. He played the full 90 minutes for Mexico against Chile in the early hours of Wednesday morning and that accompanied with a flight back from Mexico, might just be too much.

Personally, I think Nuno will start him and then withdraw him for either Cavaleiro or Traore around the 50-minute mark. Apart from that, it will be business as usual – Nuno knows his best team and ultimately, it’s working at the moment, so why change it?

In Closing

If Watford have their way and get an early goal, I have no idea which way this game will go and it wouldn’t surprise me if we ended up to a scoreline similar to that of the Everton game. 2-2, in case you’ve forgotten. If we get an early goal, we will win to nil, as we have done in our last few games (bar Manchester United (A)). All things considered, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing us to win to nil. Again. Come on!

Until the next time.

Previous articleAll Aboard The International Round Up Train
Next articleWolves Get Stung By The Hornets
I've got an unhealthy obsession with Wolves, Wolverhampton Wanderers, WWFC, whatever you fancy calling us today. When we win I'm on top of the world, when we lose I'm a nightmare to be around. It's been that way for as long as I can remember and people tell me that you're meant to grow out of it, however, I don't envisage that happening anytime soon. Anyway, I'm the lead analyst on here and while I try and keep my opinion out of my writing, sometimes it's too difficult to do that. I also use the terms 'we' and 'us' when talking about Wolves and I do try and remain impartial although it's debatable whether or not I do. In hindsight, I'm probably over critical of Wolves in the same manner that I'm over complimentary, so I guess it all balances itself out in the end. Grab yourself a cuppa and have a look around.