Swansea’s new manager seems to have lost his bounce. It is more than a month since Paul Clement last tasted victory and Swansea, with this defeat at Watford, have now lost their last six outings away from home.
With only five games remaining, Clement’s side are two points adrift of safety and woefully out of form: a swan song looms ever closer.
In truth, they deserved at least a point at Vicarage Road and would have claimed it were it not for Alfie Mawson’s disastrous hesitation to allow in Etienne Capoue at the end of the first half.
Swansea started aggressively enough, committing a series of needless fouls in the opening minutes. They also had the game’s first chance as Gylfi Sigurdsson lashed a shot at Heurelho Gomes who beat it round the near post.
Gomes’ handling was less secure five minutes later as he misjudged his punch from Sigurdsson’s free kick but Federico Fernandez could only head onto the roof of the net.
Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente were showing up well in the opening twenty minutes, finding pockets of space between the Hornets’ defence and midfield.
The Swans were dominating possession but M’Baye Niang broke with pace for Watford before his run was abruptly halted by Fernandez on the edge of the box.
Niang struck the low free-kick past the wall but Lukasz Fabianski gathered comfortably.
Troy Deeney returned to captain Watford, saying in his programme notes that “I’m not going to pretend that being on the bench (at Tottenham) was something I was expecting or I was happy with.”
He had scored in each of his last four appearances at Vicarage Road and almost did so again as he connected with Daryl Janmaat’s excellent cross only for Kyle Naughton to deflect the ball off target.
Swansea cannot afford errors if they are to preserve their Premier League status. Mawson made a catastrophic one when he dithered and lost the ball to Capoue who scored at the second attempt after Fabianski had saved well from his first.
Clement’s side desperately needed to find a goal but had only scored once in their last five matches.
Janmaat, who was getting forward impressively from right-back for Watford, struck a powerful shot from distance which Fabianski did well to cling on to and keep Swansea in the game.
The Swans were not lacking in spirit and fought relentlessly for a way back. But they are short of quality when it counts and neither Llorente or Sigurdsson were able to produce a decisive moment.
The Icelandic international headed agonizingly wide in time added on and was then brilliantly tackled by Abdoulaye Doucoure as he prepared to shoot.
As for Watford, a third home win in succession means they will be playing Premier League football again next season, though Walter Mazzarri’s own future remains less certain.
Next up for Swansea is Stoke at home. It is a game they must surely win.