Aston Villa have suffered a major setback in their bid for Premier League survival bid, as Dean Smith’s team are well beaten 3-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road.
Having beaten Norwich at Villa Park just 48 hours earlier, Villa came into the game with the chance to pull themselves out of the bottom three. However, they simply did not turn up and paid the ultimate price with a performance which was nothing short of disgraceful.
Watford started the game the better of the two teams, and had multiple opportunities to take the lead, and would have done if not for poor finishing and Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
Heaton denied a Christian Kabasele’s effort before Douglas Luiz shut down a Watford counter-attack as Gerard Deulofeu looked to play in Ismaila Sarr in behind the Villa defence.
Villa’s best chance of the first half then followed as a Conor Hourihane cross found Wesley just outside the six-yard box, but the striker’s header was magnificently saved by Hornets ‘keeper Ben Foster.
There was also a faint penalty shout for Villa but ultimately VAR decided that the Wesley was not impeded by Watford’s Craig Cathcart.
Watford took the lead just two minutes before halftime as a failed clearance from Ezri Konsa fell to Abdoulaye Doucouré, leading to Heaton parrying the ball into the path of Troy Deeney, who slotted the ball home from a matter of yards out.
It was very evident that changes were needed and an instant reaction was a must from Villa at the break for Villa. Dean Smith clearly knew this himself as he introduced Anwar El Ghazi to replace the Jota, who was non-existent during the first 45 minutes.
While Smith made a change at halftime, Villa were still unable to establish a foothold in the game, and with 55 minutes gone, they were handed a perfect chance.
After picking up a yellow card just moments earlier, Watford defender Adrian Mariappa was shown a second yellow card for a very rash challenge on Henri Lansbury as Villa looked to hit the Hornets on the break. With the home team now down to 10 men, it was time for Villa to grab the game by the neck.
Villa failed to do so and it was Nigel Pearson’s team who would be celebrating a second with 23 minutes to go. With Villa’s Matthew Targett down injured, Watford ignored calls to put the ball out of play and subsequently went on to be awarded a penalty after Douglas Luiz bundled over Deeney.
After a lengthy VAR check, the penalty stood and Villa were now in deep trouble and had it all to do if they were to avoid a devastating defeat, as a Deeney converted from the spot.
The final nail in the coffin came just four minutes later, as Jack Grealish was appeared to be foul by Étienne Capoue but referee Simon Hooper was having none of it and allow play to continue. Capoue went on to cross the ball into the Villa box and Ismaïla Sarr fired a low shot past Heaton to seal the deal.
With the game over, Villa had no answer at 3-0 just as they didn’t when the game was level for 42 minutes of the first half. Dean Smith’s men were soundly beaten by a Watford team who under Nigel Pearson, look more than up for a relegation fight.
For Villa, it’s another huge blow in their bid to stay in the top-flight and this was by a performance of a team who are in turmoil. Up next it’s a lunchtime showdown with Burnley on Wednesday and based on what we saw today, Dean Smith and his staff have got it all to do in the next three days.
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