ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Watford hire Javi Gracia as Marco Silva successor

Watford have announced the appointment of former Malaga and Rubin Kazan coach Javi Gracia as Marco Silva’s successor on an 18-month contract.

Silva’s dismissal was confirmed on Sunday, after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Leicester City left them with just one win from 11 Premier League outings.

But Watford’s decision was based on Everton’s pursuit of Silva in November, when the Merseyside club attempted to lure the Portuguese coach away from Vicarage Road.

Watford felt that situation caused a “significant deterioration” in the their fortunes, a claim supported by the fact that the club have lost seven of the 10 league matches since Sam Allardyce took the reins at Goodison Park.

They have wasted no time in appointing a successor, however, with 47-year-old Spaniard Gracia hired with immediate effect.

| #watfordfc is delighted to announce the appointment of Javi Gracia as the club’s new Head Coach on an 18-month contract.

Welcome, Javi!

Gracia’s most notable spell as a coach was at Malaga from July 2014 until May 2016, when he led the club to ninth- and eighth-placed finishes in LaLiga, despite a lack of investment in his squad and turbulence behind the scenes.

He received particular praise for his faith in young players, most notably Samu Castillejo, Samu Garcia, Juanmi and Sergi Darder, all of whom ended up being sold.

Gracia then moved on to Russian side Rubin Kazan, but he left by mutual consent in June 2017 after finishing ninth in his solitary season in charge, with his lack of knowledge of the language said to be major stumbling block.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Newcastle United 0 Watford 3: Concerns growing for Benitez after alarming defeat

Newcastle United slumped to a fourth successive Premier League defeat as Watford stormed to a 3-0 win at St James’ Park on Saturday.

Eager to correct a concerning wobble, the alarm bells only grew louder for the Magpies as they were routinely exposed at the back.

Watford had themselves ended a three-match losing run last weekend and looked full of confidence during an open first half.

Will Hughes clinically dispatched his second in as many matches in the 19th minute before Marvin Zeegelaar, who assisted the opener, drew an own goal from DeAndre Yedlin in first-half stoppage time.

The rout was complete just after the hour mark when Richarlison teed up Andre Gray to put the seal on a second consecutive victory and strengthen Watford’s grip on eighth.

Joselu did manage to force a rare save from Heurelho Gomes inside the final 25 minutes, but Newcastle never looked like mounting the kind of comeback needed to avoid a seventh defeat in the league.

While Rafael Benitez’s men slide closer to danger, Marco Silva’s side already boast more away points, with 13, than the 12 they managed for the entirety of last season.

An end-to-end first half began with Joselu completely miscuing Jacob Murphy’s promising low pass from the left.

Matt Ritchie made a better connection with his side’s next effort, although Richarlison was first to test either goalkeeper when he capped a counter-attack by drawing a sharp low save from Rob Elliot.

However, there was little the Newcastle goalkeeper could do about the next attempt. Hughes arrived late into the area and guided a fine finish into the bottom corner after being spotted by Dutch full-back Zeegelaar.

The hosts failed to heed the lesson and were thankful to see Abdoulaye Doucoure inexplicably volley wide from another left-sided Zeegelaar cross.

Watford sensed a weakness and profited once more on the stroke of half-time as Zeegelaar’s low delivery deflected off Yedlin and beat a wrong-footed Elliot at his near post.

The home side should have been buried within 10 minutes of the restart, but Gray and Richarlison both offered reprieves.

The pair made up for their errors in the 62nd minute. Richarlison had time to size up a cross, again from the left, and superbly picked out Gray for a simple stretching finish.

Spanish striker Joselu did draw a fine close-range save from Gomes with just over 20 minutes remaining, while substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic had a shot blocked by Christian Kabasele, but those proved the best of Newcastle’s chances to improve a limp display at both ends.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Watford 2 West Ham 0: Misery for Moyes on Hammers bow

David Moyes’ reign as West Ham manager began in disappointing fashion as the Hammers were beaten 2-0 at Watford to remain in the Premier League’s bottom three.

The Scot was chosen as Slaven Bilic’s successor during the international break, but defeat in his 500th game as a Premier League boss was as painful as the 26 he suffered with relegated Sunderland last term as missed chances at one end were punished by the goals of Will Hughes and Richarlison at the other.

Watford had lost their three previous matches and doubts remain over the future of boss Marco Silva, who has been linked with the vacant position at Everton, but West Ham showed little progress from the 4-1 loss to Liverpool that saw Bilic meet his end at London Stadium, with Hughes’ first Premier League goal securing an 11th-minute lead.

An equaliser could and should have followed, only for the Hammers to find Heurelho Gomes in inspired form before the goalkeeper’s Brazilian compatriot Richarlison sealed the points in the second half.

Another blow was to come for Moyes as club-record signing Marko Arnautovic was forced off in the final 20 minutes with an apparent hand injury.

The win takes Watford into eighth – just five points shy of the top four – while West Ham are 18th ahead of Friday’s clash with Leicester City as Moyes prepares to make his home bow.

Moyes’ first big decision was to recall Andy Carroll to the starting line-up for the first time since his red card at Burnley last month and the striker took just six seconds to land an eerily similar elbow on Watford debutant Marvin Zeegelaar, although he escaped punishment.

If that early clash worryingly resembled what had gone before under Bilic, West Ham’s inauspicious start only continued with the sloppy opener. Andre Gray prevented the visitors from clearing a left-wing cross and his miskick fell kindly for Hughes, who swept a finish into the bottom-left corner.

As the Hammers floundered in their attempts to muster a response, Carroll’s frustration grew further and he was booked for an off-the-ball barge on Richarlison.

Joe Hart parried away a low curler from the industrious Richarlison – Kiko Femenia driving the rebound wide – before West Ham belatedly worked Gomes at the other end as the goalkeeper bravely blocked Cheikhou Kouyate’s effort.

And Gomes made another stunning stop to close out the first half, somehow reaching Arnautovic’s deflected header and then springing up to save the rebound too.

Kouyate blazed a huge chance over the top from Arnautovic’s centre after the restart and Abdoulaye Doucoure almost punished the visitors’ profligacy as he whipped a 20-yard strike just beyond the left-hand post.

It was Hart’s turn to make a point-blank save when he brilliantly turned away Adrian Mariappa’s downward header, but the England international perhaps should have done more to deny Richarlison the second goal. The Brazilian’s shot, following Hughes’ pass, slipped through the goalkeeper’s grasp and into the net.

The troublesome Carroll was withdrawn and Arnautovic soon followed as he fell in a challenge with Zeegelar and writhed in pain as he awaited attention.

Although West Ham kept pushing, a stunning goal-line clearance from Christian Kabasele kept Manuel Lanzini at bay and Watford saw out the closing stages with relative ease.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Watford 2 Arsenal 1: Plucky Hornets rally to sting Gunners with late winner

Comeback kings Watford handed Arsenal a first defeat in eight matches as Marco Silva’s men recovered from a one-goal deficit to snatch a dramatic 2-1 triumph at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Per Mertesacker marked his first Premier League start in 532 days with the opening goal, the defender converting Granit Xhaka’s corner in the 39th minute, to put Arsene Wenger’s side on course for a fifth successive win in all competitions.

However, Watford – who had scored late goals to pick up points away at Swansea City and West Brom in their last two outings – once again demonstrated their new-found resiliency under manager Silva.

A 71st-minute equaliser from the penalty spot by substitute Troy Deeney got the hosts on level terms and set up a thrilling finish.

After Etienne Capoue hit the post, the game appeared set to finish all-square until Tom Cleverley popped up with an injury-time winner, completing the recovery mission and sending Watford above Arsenal and up to fourth in the table.

Cleverley – who had been easily beaten in the air for Mertesacker’s header – was in the right place in the penalty area to convert a loose ball, meaning the Gunners are still yet to record an away league win this season.

The dramatic finish spectacularly bursts the fragile bubble of optimism that had been growing at Arsenal, who had put together an impressive run of form since a 4-0 hammering at Liverpool on August 27.

Wenger will rue his side’s failure to hold onto a lead given to them by the most unlikely of goalscorers, club captain Mertesacker – who replaced the injured Shkodran Mustafi in the starting XI – celebrating a rare outing by breaking the deadlock with his side’s first away goal in the league since May.

The set-piece effort came after Arsenal had struggled to break down a Watford side that mirrored their opponents by starting with a three-man back line, the visitors too often settling for long-range attempts or throwing in hopeful crosses.

Silva switched to 4-4-2 on the hour mark and the move paid off when club skipper Deeney – without a goal in his previous 13 league games – matched his Arsenal counterpart by converting from the spot after Hector Bellerin was adjudged to have pulled down Richarlison.

The equaliser came after Arsenal had twice fluffed their lines at the other end.

Alex Iwobi and the fit-again Mesut Ozil, on as a replacement for the injured Danny Welbeck, were both guilty of putting ione-on-one attempts too close to goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, letting Watford off the hook.

The closing minutes saw Arsenal come under siege, with the post helping them out when Capoue’s first-time drive from Deeney’s pass struck Mertesacker’s chest and wrong-footed Petr Cech.

However, the woodwork failed to come to their rescue again when Cleverley arrived at the perfect time to slam home a dramatic winner three minutes into added time.

Key Opta stats:

– Watford have 15 points already this season, their best tally after eight top-flight games since 1982-83, when they managed 16 points under Graham Taylor.
– Per Mertesacker scored his first Premier League goal in 1400 days, since netting v Manchester City in December 2013.

– Cleverley’s goal was his first in a league game for Watford since March 2010, when he netted against Sheffield Wednesday in the second-tier.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Swansea 1 Watford 2: Late Richarlison strike secures victory for Silva´s side

A late goal from Richarlison continued Watford’s 100 per cent record away from home this season as they edged past Swansea 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

The Brazilian took advantage of a poor attempted tackle from Alfie Mawson in the 90th minute to break through and fire past Lukasz Fabianski.

Andre Gray had earlier given the Hornets the lead in the 13th minute with his first goal for the club before substitute Tammy Abraham equalised for the Swans 10 minutes into the second half.

Richarlison’s late strike means that Paul Clement’s side have now lost all three home games this season.

Swansea will need to pick themselves up for the trip to West Ham next weekend, while Watford will look to build on their impressive start to the campaign when they visit West Brom.

Watford started with real purpose and created the first clear sight of goal inside the opening five minutes.

Kiko Femenia broke down the right and pulled the ball back towards the unmarked Gray, but the striker’s goal-bound effort was deflected agonisingly past Fabianski’s left post.

Gray did not have to wait long to break the deadlock, though.

Wilfried Bony’s misplaced pass found its way out to Andre Carrillo, whose cross was deflected into the path of Gray, and the former Burnley man pounced to prod past Fabianski.

The goal appeared to spark Swansea into life and they almost levelled soon after, but Heurelho Gomes reacted quickly to smother Federico Fernandez as the defender tried to get his shot away from just a few yards out.

Watford thought they had their second shortly after the half-hour mark, but were denied by the linesman’s flag.

Fabianksi could only parry Femenia’s long-range shot back into the danger area, and Richarlison’s ball back across the face of the goal was tapped in by Carrillo, but the Peruvian had strayed marginally into an offside position.

Gray could, and perhaps should, have scored his second five minutes before the break when he latched onto Alfie Mawson’s poor back pass. His shot crept agonisingly wide of Fabianski’s far post, though, from an acute angle.

Clement made a double substitution at the break, and one of the players introduced pulled Swansea level 10 minutes into the second period.

Bony’s shot from just inside the area was only parried by Gomes into the path of Abraham, who had the simple task of slotting into an empty net from three yards out.

Just as the game looked to be petering out for a draw, Richarlison then took advantage of some sloppy play from Roque Mesa to power past Mawson’s weak challenge and fire in off the bar to continue his side’s fine away form.

Key Opta facts:

– Watford have won three consecutive top-flight away matches for the first time in their history.
– Swansea City have lost three consecutive Premier League home games for the first time under one manager since January 2014 under Michael Laudrup.
– Watford won their first away league game versus Swansea since February 1983, ending a five-game winless run.
– Richarlison has scored with two of his three shots on target in the Premier League.

Breaking News Soccer Top news

Southampton 0 Watford 2: Silva´s solid start goes on after south-coast win

Watford continued their solid start to life under Marco Silva with an impressive 2-0 away win over Southampton on Saturday.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Daryl Janmaat scored either side of half-time to give Silva his second win as Watford boss and extend the Hornets’ unbeaten opening to the Premier League season.

The contrast could hardly be greater for Mauricio Pellegrino, whose Saints side have now failed to score in nine of their past 12 home league matches.

Southampton failed to register a shot of any kind in the first half and duly fell behind when Doucoure crashed in his second of the season shortly before half-time.

Janmaat fired home another effort from outside the area to put the result beyond doubt with 24 minutes left.

Untroubled for the remainder of the match, Watford now boast two wins from their opening four matches.

With both sides held to scoreless draws last time out, it came as little surprise that the first shot failed to arrive until Jose Holebas curled a free-kick wide in the 23rd minute.

Brazilian winger Richarlison then drew an important block from Jack Stephens as the visitors started to grow into the match, enjoying the majority of possession and creating more space in attack.

Watford got their reward when Doucoure, who scored in the opening-round 3-3 draw with Liverpool, won a bouncing ball outside the area and struck a superb half-volley into the bottom far corner.

Richarlison soon dragged an inventive effort around the near post before Doucoure blazed another effort over the crossbar as the home fans greeted the half-time whistle with a chorus of boos.

The visitors might have grabbed a second shortly after the restart, but Nathaniel Chalobah was unable to force home a header from Holebas’ corner.

Southampton almost found a way through on the hour when a cross dropped invitingly for defender Stephens, only for Christian Kabasele to make a timely intervention.

And the hosts were punished for failing to grasp the opportunity as Janmaat fired home a second from outside the area, steadying over a loose ball and thumping a fine low strike past Fraser Forster.

The Hornets were rarely troubled from there on as they saw out their second victory in four matches.

Southampton will need to regroup away to Crystal Palace next weekend, while Watford will be tested by an in-form Manchester City, fresh from their 5-0 thrashing of Liverpool.

Key Opta stats:

– Watford enjoyed a league win over Southampton for the first time in eight attempts (W1 D3 L4); their first since October 2008 (3-0 at St Mary’s).
– The Hornets have kept a clean sheet in three successive Premier League games for the first time since October 2016.
– Southampton did not manage a shot on target in this match until the 92nd minute.

– Watford’s seven goals in the Premier League this season have come via six different goalscorers – only Abdoulaye Doucoure has scored more than once in the competition for them in 2017/18.

ALL SPORTS Breaking News Soccer Top news

Richarlison and Capoue strikes reward battling Watford at Bournemouth

The miracle Eddie Howe has managed to pull off at Bournemouth was brought into stark relief once again with an early home defeat at the hands of a Watford side who look ready to kick on from a disappointing end to last season.

With Watford having more physicality, more pace and the technical ability to match the hosts, there was only going to be one winner when the match opened up after a tight first half. Goals from the impressive Brazilian signing Richarlison and Étienne Capoue were enough to earn Marco Silva his first away win in the Premier League. For Bournemouth a belated appearance from Jermain Defoe was not enough to turn the tide.

“Of course, I am happy,” Silva said. “Our second half was really very good. I like to control every moment of the game and we did that. Normally when they play at home they cause opponents problems but we controlled it very well. And we had personality. The players did everything as we prepared it.”

For Howe, all his preparation went to waste as the Cherries served up their second insipid performance on the trot after an opening-day defeat at West Brom. “It’s incredibly frustrating not just for me but for the players who feel the same as I do,” Howe said. “I know we’re a lot better than that but I thought our tempo was too slow last week and it was a similar problem today. I wanted a quick game, it’s the best way for us to play. But it was slow again, too methodical.”

Benik Afobe started up front ahead of Defoe for Bournemouth and could have opened the scoring in the seventh minute only to balloon Heurelho Gomes’s parry over the bar. He had another effort later in the half that Gomes saved and one more when he failed to do justice to a Ryan Fraser cross in the opening minute of the second half.

Yet Howe was right when he said the opportunities his side created were far from clear-cut. “That’s not like us,” he said. “I can’t think of two games when we’ve been so lacking in opportunities.”

Watford, meanwhile, wasted a series of good chances, with Nathaniel Chalobah the main culprit as he flashed a header over the bar in the first half and fired a shot at Asmir Begovic’s legs when one on one with the goalkeeper in the second half.

The England Under-21 midfielder, who was making only his second Premier League start, did play his part in the opening goal with 17 minutes to go, however, driving from his own half with the ball before finding Andre Gray, whose cutback was turned in at the second attempt by Richarlison. Substitute Capoue sealed the match with four minutes remaining, lashing the ball home with precision from 25 yards out.

“I know very well the player, we have watched him for the previous months,” said Silva of the skilful Richarlison, an £11m summer signing from Fluminense. “He’s a talent but he’s a player who comes every day to work hard and I’m happy. We have to be calm with him, he’s a young boy experiencing his first moments in Europe, and he doesn’t speak one word of English. But it’s not a surprise for me how he played.”