Swansea City’s relegation worries are deepening after an Alfie Mawson mistake handed Watford’s Etienne Capoue the winner at Vicarage Road and left Paul Clement’s side win no wins in six games and still sitting in the bottom three of the Premier League.
Capoue took advantage of Mawson taking too much time on the ball after 26 minutes to steal in and put Watford ahead in a match which Walter Mazzarri’s men deserved victory – and the three points which all but confirm their place in the top flight next season
By contrast Swansea’s limp display leaves Clement with all kind of problems, extending a miserable run that has also included defeats against West Ham, Tottenham, Bournemouth and Hull – and in which his side have scored only two goals.
Swansea started well enough at Vicarage Road despite those statistics, with Gylfi Sigurdsson forcing Heurlho Gomes into a smart save after only eight minutes and Federico Fernandez going close with a header after the Watford goalkeeper failed to deal with a deep cross.
However, all that good work was undone after 42 minutes when defender Mawson’s defensive blunder, giving the ball away on the edge of the area under pressure from Capoue, allowed the Watford midfielder to break through on goal. His first effort was saved by Lukasz Fabianski but the second was ferociously dispatched into the opposite corner of the net, left-footed for 1-0.
It was Capoue’s sixth goal of the season, but his first since November, and dealt a significant blow to a Swansea side which had looked pretty comfortable until that point. No wonder Mawson, who dwelt too long on the ball and lost concentration as he attempted to weave his way out of defence, held his head in his hands.
For Watford much of the focus here was on captain Troy Deeney who had been controversially left out of the team which lost heavily at Spurs last weekend but who was re-selected to face the Swans following talks with his manager Walter Mazzarri.
Mazzarri insisted pre-match that all differences had been put to one side but also left his captain in no doubt about who was boss by adding: “He is loved by the fans but no player or individual will be above me. He is the captain and after the manager he must provide an example to everyone.”
In fairness to Deeney, he did exactly that. The striker could have scored after 26 minutes when his first-time shot from a Jose Holebas cross was tipped over the bar – and his workrate was typically high.
In fact, Watford grew in confidence after the break and came close to doubling their score when Daryl Janmaat’s well-struck long-range shot was acrobatically saved by Fabianski, and again when substitute Stefano Okaka had a spectacular volley controversially and narrowly ruled offside.
At the other end of the field, Leroy Fer had two half-hearted appeals for a penalty in quick succession as Swansea, with a greater need for points, finally stepped up a gear; but too often their final delivery lacked the quality to trouble the home defence. With Stoke at home and Manchester United away in their next two matches, Clement’s side’s Premier League future is hanging in the balance.
Sigurdsson had one last chance to save a point here but having burst into the Watford box in injury time he scuffed his shot straight to Gomes. It rather summed up Swansea’s afternoon.
Watford: Gomes, Janmat, Prodl, Mariappa, Holebas; Doucoure, Capoue, Cleverley (Behrami 89); Niang (Okaka 78), Deeney, Ambrabat 6 (Kabasele 64). Subs not used: Pantilimon, Success, Mason, Pereira.
Swansea: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Fer, Fulton 5 (Carroll 67), Ki; Sigurdsson, Llorente (Ayew 81), Narsingh 6 (Borja 58). Subs not used: Nordfeldt, Van der Hoorn, Routledge, Kingsley.
Referee: Lee Mason