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    Aston Villa 2-3 Watford - Match Report

    by Conall Green
    Watford sealed their fifth Premier League win of the season at Villa Park on Saturday, courtesy of goals from strike pairing Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, with Villa defender Alan Hutton also putting through his own net.
    Villa’s goals came from captain Micah Richards and Ghanaian striker Jordan Ayew, but that was not enough to earn the hosts a share of the spoils after a disastrous defensive display.
    Remi Garde made two changes to the starting line-up that was demolished at Goodison Park last weekend, with Carlos Sanchez and Scott Sinclair returning to the side in place of Ashley Westwood and Jack Grealish, Grealish being left out altogether by Garde after being pictured in a nightclub after last Saturday’s heavy defeat.
    Watford, who were coming into the game having lost two consecutive league games for the first time this season, made two changes to the side defeated by Manchester United, Quique Sanchez Flores deciding to replace Jurado and Ikechi Anya with Juan Carlos Paredes and Chelsea loanee Nathan Ake.
    Over 35,000 were inside Villa Park in what was a huge game for the home side, but only nine minutes after referee Lee Mason started the game, the majority of spectators inside had their spirits dampened.
    Brad Guzan parried a shot from Nigerian Ighalo, but his defence failed to properly clear, and after some penalty box pinball, Ighalo controlled a shot from Ben Watson and poked the ball past Guzan with the outside of his right boot to give the Hornets the lead. It was Ighalo’s eighth Premier League goal of the campaign.
    Garde’s men upped their game after going behind, and tested Heurelho Gomes in the Watford goal on multiple occasions before finding the breakthrough.
    Villa finally managed to beat Gomes four minutes before the break, and it came in controversial fashion. Micah Richards powered a bullet header back across Heurelho Gomes and into the corner of the net after Jordan Veretout had floated a free kick to the back post, but replays showed what the linesman had missed; Richards had strayed marginally offside. That mattered little to Richards, who urged the fans to back their team with his passionate celebration.

    Richards is one Villa player showing the desire required in a relegation scrap.

    Thirteen minutes into the second period, Watford suffered a blow as Gomes took a knock in the head from his own man, defender Craig Cathcart. After an eight minute delay, Gomes was stretchered off and replaced by substitute ‘keeper, Lithuanian Giedrius Arlauskis. Villa also made a change, Adama Traore replacing fellow wide man Carles Gil.
    Two minutes after the delay Watford again took the lead, and it was another poor goal to concede from a defensive perspective. Former Spurs midfielder Etienne Capoue attempted to slip in Ighalo, but Alan Hutton got his foot to the ball first. However he was unable to direct the ball under pressure and could only poke the ball past a flat footed Guzan and into the corner of the net to re-establish the visitors’ lead.

    Hutton scored his second own goal of the season, also putting past Guzan while playing Chelsea.

    Villa again applied pressure in search of an equaliser, but in the 85th minute Watford extended their lead, and it came via former Villa trainee Troy Deeney. Deeney, who has a Birmingham City tattoo, took advantage of the hesitancy of Ciaran Clark and Kieron Richardson to power a header past Guzan in the Villa goal to make it 3-1. It was a great header by Deeney, who was booked for his celebration, but he really ought to have been challenged in the air by one of the Villa defenders.
    Deeney’s goal triggered a mass exodus from the home support, but Villa took only four minutes to halve the deficit, Jordan Ayew whipping a curling effort into the corner from the edge of the area to give his side hope of gaining a point. Despite there being a massive 10 minutes of injury time, Villa looked unlikely to muster an equaliser and Watford missed chances to make the margin of victory more comfortable on the break, the game ending 3-2 to the visitors.

    Jordan Ayew's consolation goal was his third in his last five league games.

    Up next for rock-bottom Villa is a trip to the south coast to play Southampton before they host Arsenal. Remi Garde will be hopeful his players can pick up some points to build momentum before the hectic Christmas period that will likely define their season; with Villa facing away trips to fellow strugglers Newcastle United, Norwich City and Sunderland between December 19th and January 2nd.
    For Quique Sanchez Flores and Watford, they now sit in 11th position on 19 points, and are looking likely to achieve Premier League survival with plenty to spare. They will hope to add to that tally in their next game against Norwich City at Vicarage Road. Heurelho Gomes could be able to feature, having been given the all clear after a precautionary scan on his head injury.

    Man of the Match: Odion Ighalo. Always looked a threat, found the net, and pressurised Hutton into scoring an own goal.
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    Item Reviewed: Aston Villa 2-3 Watford - Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Conall Green
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