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United aim to avoid Prem away skid

Five Aside
 By Mike Parkin

Defensive lapses see Watford miss chance to snatch draw at Chelsea

An unexpected gem of a game, Watford's 4-3 defeat at Chelsea was an end-to-end affair that delighted both sets of supporters who were happy to celebrate two very different achievements: Chelsea the title and Watford Premier League survival.

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Watford did well to come back twice, most notably when wiping out a two-goal deficit in the second half. The Hornets had failed to score away from home since January, so this trio of strikes was a much needed boost going into the final day fixture with Manchester City.


Once again Walter Mazzarri's team looked at sea defensively, with an ongoing inability to defend set pieces combining with too many mistakes and misplaced passes. Having done the hard work, it was disappointing to see Watford not hang on for a well-earned draw. The game, a constant battle that ended in disappointment, was the season in microcosm.

Manager rating out of 10

5 -- Mazzarri surprised everyone by dropping both Stefano Okaka and Troy Deeney and starting with M'Baye Niang, most definitely not a recognised target man, as the most advanced player. The AC Milan loanee had a disappointing night, but his teammates dug in to give the head coach a few hopeful signs going into the season finale.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Heurelho Gomes, 6 -- For a goalkeeper that conceded four goals, Gomes actually had a reasonable night. Was visibly upset with his defenders on a number of occasions after numerous Chelsea attacks resulted in clear shots on goal.

DF Sebastian Prodl, 6 -- Watford's best defender on the night, despite picking up a late red card. One of the few Hornets' players who seemed committed to the cause for the duration, Prodl pitched in with a number of vital challenges and blocks.

DF Adrian Mariappa, 6 -- Was caught out on numerous of occasions, while a number of his ambitious balls forward failed to find their mark. Hard to be too critical of him as he continues to play a solid part in a seemingly ever-changing defensive lineup.

DF Jose Holebas, 5 -- A torrid night for Holebas, who picked up his customary booking in the opening exchanges. Played out of position, Holebas was unable to make an impact going forward and was up against it all night defensively.

MF Daryl Janmaat, 7 -- A memorable goal for Watford's second, wriggling clear of a number of challenges before lashing home from inside the box. The Dutchman also had a hand in his team's opener, and was a constant threat going forward. An all-action display.

Only a late Cesc Fabregas goal denied Watford a point from their trip to Stamford Bridge.

MF Nordin Amrabat, 5 -- Amrabat is struggling for confidence and being played at right-wing-back did nothing to arrest his slump in form. Looked unsure going forward and looked out of shape when defending. One he will want to forget.

MF Abdoulaye Doucoure, 7 -- Yet further evidence that Doucoure will play a vital part in Watford's midfield for years to come. Not afraid to commit to tough challenges while also showing skill and vision. One of the leading lights in an improved Watford showing.

MF Tom Cleverley, 6 -- A niggly display from Cleverley, who never looked in control throughout. Like too many of his teammates, he gave the ball away too often and was clearly frustrated by his performance as tempers boiled over towards the end.

MF Etienne Capoue, 6 -- An improved performance from Capoue, who notched a rare headed goal as part of a busy, energetic performance. Still gives the impression that he could do more, but he worked hard for his team at Stamford Bridge.

MF Valon Behrami, 6 -- A typically tough-tackling and abrasive display from Behrami, who always makes life difficult for his opponents.

FW M'Baye Niang, 5 -- Didn't enjoy his night as a lone striker and sloped straight off down the tunnel after being replaced. Disappointing body language throughout, although most will recognise he was being played in an unfamiliar role. His future at Watford is becoming increasingly uncertain.


FW Stefano Okaka, 7 -- Replaced the lacklustre Niang with 20 minutes to go and immediately ignited the Watford performance. Held the ball up incredibly well and took his goal with aplomb. Hornets fans will hope to see more of this from the big Italian.

FW Troy Deeney, NR -- A late substitute, an undoubtedly frustrated Deeney came on for Capoue in injury time, and just about found time to be booked before the final whistle.

Mike is ESPN FC's Watford blogger.


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