Nigel Pearson made it two wins from three since taking over the reigns at Watford, after his side easily beat fellow strugglers Aston Villa 3-0 at Vicarage Road.
Two goals from Troy Deeney and one from Ismaila Sarr were enough to win a game in which they played over half an hour with ten men after Adrian Mariappa was sent off.
Both teams began the day in the bottom three, with travelling Aston Villa boasting the worst away record in the league this season.
Nigel Pearson made one change from the side that drew at Sheffield United, with Abdoulaye Doucoure coming in for Nathaniel Chalobah.
Villa, meanwhile, made three changes of their own. Conor Hourihane was recalled, with starts for Jota and Henri Lansbury and Trezeguet, Marvelous Nakamba and Anwar El Ghazi all dropping to the bench.
Perhaps Villa’s travel sickness showed because within 30 seconds Watford should have scored. Will Hughes whipped in a corner and Christian Kabasele forced a close range save from Tom Heaton when he really should have done better.
But rather than a sign of things to come, Dean Smith’s men settled and enjoyed lengthy spells of possession, even if they didn’t create too much.
When Villa did engineer their first proper chance, it produced a wonderful save from Ben Foster. Hourihane clipped in a brilliant cross from the left and Wesley rose to meet it, heading down but thwarted by the reflexes of the Watford stopper.
As the half progressed, Watford continued to look to play long, diagonal balls to Sarr on the right wing, with the Senegalese winger’s pace causing Matt Targett a headache. When their goal eventually came, it was a Villa mistake, however, that created it.
Konsa dwelled on the ball and his clearance was charged down and fell to Doucoure who shot low and hard. Heaton saved the effort but couldn’t hold on and Deeney gobbled up the rebound.
Watford finished the half much the stronger and deserved their lead at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half, with Watford looking fairly comfortable they shot themselves in the foot. On an earlier yellow Mariappa went in for a challenge that he was never going to win. Late and clumsy, he caught Lansbury and picked up his second booking, leaving his side with ten men for the final 35 minutes.
Rather than ignite Villa, it got worse for them.
With Targett on the ground injured the game continued, with Villa calling for the ball to be put out. Watford had every right to continue and played in Deeney on goal. The Watford captain waited for the challenge to come and Douglas Luiz’s unneeded push into the back of the striker saw a penalty given immediately, with the same player dispatching the resulting spot-kick himself.
Five minutes later it was three. Grealish gave the ball away on the halfway line, allowing Deeney to break. After waiting for support, he laid the ball into the path of Capoue and his pinpoint cross found Sarr, who volleyed home.
The entire afternoon was a frustrating affair for the visitors, who looked vulnerable and devoid of creativity. For Watford, the future looks considerably brighter under Nigel Pearson, who’s galvanised the side and given them every chance of staying up.
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