Exhausted West Brom crash back to earth in 2-0 defeat to Watford
After a tremendous rear-guard action at Old Trafford to earn a 0-0 draw, West Brom were brought back down to earth with a crash as they put in a lacklustre performance in a 2-0 loss to Watford at Vicarage Road on Tuesday.
Tony Pulis' side appeared to be exhausted both mentally and physically, with some uncharacteristically poor defensive play allowing Watford a couple of opportunities they took full advantage of.
Despite the poor performance, West Brom did create several openings, even before Watford were reduced to 10 men. While the finishing, particularly from Nacer Chadli, was poor, it was at least encouraging to see West Brom pose a bit of an attacking threat. This was undoubtedly aided by the return of Matty Phillips, who played the entire second half and made an immediate difference by providing width, pace and skill to the side.
There were a series of individual errors from some of West Brom's most reliable performers that ultimately cost Pulis' side the game. Chadli and Craig Dawson both did poorly for Watford's opening goal, Chadli being caught out of position and Dawson turning his back on the shot. Allan Nyom was badly positioned for Troy Deeney's goal, while Jonny Evans certainly didn't cover himself in glory either.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- After such a monumental, backs-to-the-wall performance at Old Trafford, it was baffling to see Pulis use the same starting XI at Watford, especially with the Welshman discussing rotation prior to this run of three fixtures in a week. This seemed a perfect opportunity to at least make a couple of changes to freshen things up.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ben Foster, 6 -- Couldn't do a lot with M'baye Niang's opening goal, but will perhaps have been disappointed with his efforts for Deeney's strike.
DF Craig Dawson, 5 -- A player renowned for his bravery, it was strange to see him turn his back for the first goal. Plenty of opportunities going forward but simply lacked the quality to take advantage.
DF Gareth McAuley, 6 -- Relished the physical challenge posed by Watford. He didn't always come out on top, but was the best of West Brom's back four.
DF Jonny Evans, 5 -- After his tremendous performance at Old Trafford, Evans was caught wanting up against the powerful Deeney.
DF Allan Nyom, 5 -- Handled the hostile reception well, but poor positioning for Watford's second goal and didn't get the opportunity to make much of an impact going forward.
MF Nacer Chadli, 6 -- Probably West Brom's biggest attacking threat, getting into several good positions but couldn't find the finish. Unlucky not to score with a free kick that hit the post.
MF Jake Livermore, 5 -- Struggled to make his mark on the game against a physically imposing Watford side, perhaps feeling the effects of his efforts against Manchester United.
MF Darren Fletcher, 6 -- Has a seemingly endless supply of energy, used the ball well enough without ever really making much of an impact with it.
MF Chris Brunt, 6 -- The game can sometimes pass him by in the middle of the park, but he was still responsible for creating West Brom's best chances in the game.
MF James McClean, 5 -- Another industrious performance from the winger, punctuated by one lung-bursting run from his own half to win a corner. Seemed to lose his head toward the end of the first half.
FW Hal Robson-Kanu, 6 -- Some good moments of hold-up and link-up play, but never got a clear-cut opportunity himself.
MF Matt Phillips, 7 -- The winger made an immediate impact on his return with his direct running and skill. It won't be long before he's back in the first XI.
MF James Morrison, 6 -- Saw plenty of ball, particularly after Watford went down to 10 men, but he was unable to do much with it.
FW Salomon Rondon, 5 -- Had a couple of opportunities late that he couldn't take advantage of.
Matthew Evans is ESPN FC's West Brom blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @MattEvansWBA.