Sunday 25 February 2018

No Watford worries for Quique Sanchez Flores

Quique Sanchez Flores refused to be concerned by Watford's 2-0 defeat at Southampton
Quique Sanchez Flores refused to be concerned by Watford's 2-0 defeat at Southampton

Quique Sanchez Flores has dismissed suggestions his Watford team are at risk because they struggle against a back three.

Watford on Wednesday produced their worst performance of the season in a 2-0 Premier League defeat at Southampton, whose near-complete control of the game came with their use of three central defenders.

Their manager Ronald Koeman's team selection came just two weeks after Tottenham overcame Watford using similar tactics and shortly after Sunderland attempted to do the same, and - given much of their impressive opening half to the season has been inspired by the partnership between strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney - it could be that that strength is now being negated.

It is often the case in English football that a successful tactic is widely repeated and that Watford will therefore need to adapt, but Sanchez Flores, who has so far excelled since his summer appointment, believes there were more reasons for Wednesday evening's defeat and that his team do not necessarily struggle to overcome those playing with a back three.

"In the meeting with the players, we talked about the defensive line of three, because the Premier League (teams) are repeating the same system against us," the 50-year-old Spaniard said.

"Against three defenders, sometimes we play well, including against Tottenham, we played really well in the second half.

"Against Sunderland, we smashed Sunderland in the first 20 minutes, so we know how we want to play against three defenders.

"(At Southampton) we start to lose balls, to make mistakes, it was one player after another. When the full team is making mistakes, you try to forget as quickly as possible. I don't want to investigate too much what happened, because this is not the level of our players."

Wednesday's fixture also represented Fraser Forster's first appearance of the season following his recovery from a long-term knee injury, and with the Southampton goalkeeper's return providing his team with some stability in what has so far been an inconsistent season, Koeman revealed his satisfaction that he is again available.

"If you are nine months out, and you play just 90 minutes for the under-21s (before returning to the first XI), that's not easy," Koeman said. "After a lot of defeats in the last few weeks, maybe the team was nervous.

"The presentation of Fraser was really a boost to everybody. A clean sheet again, it's great for Fraser to come back and have a clean sheet and win, but that was the whole team performance."

Press Association

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