Watford vs Newcastle United – Player Ratings

Another game without a win for Steve Bruce’s side, but in truth, this was quite a good performance which should’ve seen us pick up all three points. There was a lot to like in our approach play, and we created enough chances to win a couple of matches – we’re clearly missing Callum Wilson up top to apply the finishing touch to our play.

There was always that nagging feeling that we’d regret not getting the second when we were 1-0 up, and ultimately that came to bear with Watford drawing level. We’re yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season, which will need to change if we’re going to fritter away chances like we did today.

Here’s how the lads did at Vicarage Road:

Karl Darlow – 7

Some smart stops from Darlow kept us in the game early on, including an impressive double save, but had no chance with Ismaila Sarr’s header for Watford’s goal. Undoubtedly an upgrade on Woodman at present, looking more assured with his distribution and confident from set pieces. We’re heading towards another Darlow vs Dubravka debate when the latter returns to the squad.

Javier Manquillo – 6

Solid shift from the full back. Harshly booked early on for a soft foul which limited his ability to get tight to Emmanuel Dennis down Watford’s left. Firmly established on the right of our defence now after a spell in the wilderness.

Isaac Hayden – 6

Another game in which Hayden was played out of position on the right of a back three, although at times he did drift into midfield. Put in his usual shift and was aggressive in the tackle as always. Clearly better in his natural position but is doing what is asked of him and you cannot question his commitment.

Federico Fernandez – 7

Impressive return to the side from the Argentine, who marshalled the back line well and won almost every aerial battle he was involved in. Played in his favoured position in the middle of a back three and thrived as a result. Bruce has a decision to make when Lascelles returns from injury, as we are more solid as a defensive unit when Fernandez plays.

Ciaran Clark – 6

Solid enough outing from Clark. Was tested by the speed of Watford’s attacking players but coped fairly well. His distribution does fall short at this level, and ideally we’d have a better ball-playing option on the left-side of defence (Florian Lejeune anyone?). Headed a crucial chance wide late on which would have put us back in front.

Matt Ritchie – 5

Not one of Ritchie’s better games. Struggled with the pacy and tricky Sarr down Watford’s right wing, picking up a booking after being caught out of position during a counter-attack. Also had a mixed day with set pieces, hitting the wall from a dangerously placed free kick and not beating the first man on a couple of corners.

Sean Longstaff – 8

Strong performance from Longstaff, capped with a fine finish to give us the lead. Played some smart passes in the midfield and provides a nice balance alongside Willock. Is clearly benefitting from a sustained run in the team – who knew young players could develop when given regular game time?

Joe Willock – 7

A surprising name on the team sheet after picking up a knock against Leeds but turned in his best performance since signing for the club permanently in the summer. Showed real energy and pace to drive forward from midfield, and had a gilt-edged chance saved by Foster in the second half which he perhaps should have scored. Has a great connection with ASM, and we need to keep him fit if we’re to pick up points.

Miguel Almiron – 7

Ran himself into the ground, particularly in the second half and linked play up well before being subbed with ten minutes to go. Tested Foster with a shot from outside the box, but whilst there is no doubting Miggy’s effort, he looks short of confidence and gun-shy in front of goal.

Allan Saint-Maximin – 7

Looked really threatening every time he received the ball but without finding the net. Will be disappointed not to have scored when intercepting a pass-back in the first half, failing to round Ben Foster when one-on-one before setting up Longstaff who fired over. Showed his unselfish side by laying on great chances for both Joe Willock and Jacob Murphy which were wasted and will be credited with an assist for Longstaff’s goal. In Wilson’s absence, his continued run of good form and fitness will be vital in keeping our heads above water in what looks likely to be another season-long battle against relegation.

Joelinton –7

A decent first half showing from Big Jow before fading in the second half. Used his physicality well to hold the ball up and get us up the pitch, which should be the absolute minimum we get from him. Had a shot saved from a narrow angle but you just never think he is going to score. Lacks any form of conviction in front of goal.

Subs

Jacob Murphy – 4

In the words of John Anderson, ‘just put it in the net!’. What was going through his mind when clean through in the last minute only he will know. A horrible attempt at a finish and a costly miss.

Dwight Gayle – n/a

Brought on with 7 minutes to go and had no time to make an impact. Would have fancied his chances of taking one of the opportunities we created earlier in the match. His continued lack of game time is puzzling to say the least.

Craig Shaw – @Shawzey15

Instagram: @Shawzey