The Hornets were almost able to bring home a victory in their game against the Tranmere Rovers before the team blew a 3-0 lead in the second half to end their match in a draw for the third round of the FA Cup.
Watford nearly had a clean sheet win in their hands as they were able to come up with an impressive first half, scoring three times before suffering a disappointing meltdown in the subsequent half.
The team was very comfortable in this one despite a neutral result. They had nine shot attempts in the game while draining all of their three shots on target. They held the Rovers to just 44% possession in the game, and have played excellent defence, making all of their 13 fouls worth the risk.
It was one of those glorious nights that ended in a blur for Watford. Nigel Pearson, however, was not looking for any excuses with the game’s result as he had no regrets in resting his first-team players in the game.
‘The Premier League is our priority and I have no qualms about it’, said Pearson, who opted not to play his best players in the game. ‘It was never my intention to do anything other than protect the squad and to look after what we need to do for the Premier League – it’s as simple as that and we can’t afford not to’.
Pearson believes that he made the right call to rest his first-team players. He asserts that the Premier League remains the top priority, and remaining in the top-flight is the team’s first and most important goal this season.
Pearson’s choice to rest his players was due to the long list of player injuries that the team has now. He does not want to take any more risks that could cost them Premier League games, which would disrupt their momentum in breaking out of the relegation.
He even took out Nathaniel Chalobah, who was the most experienced member of the midfield trio at halftime after the latter had a groin injury. That alone gave Pearson much of a choice to come up with another player to step in.
‘We had to try and find answers to questions we weren’t necessarily expecting. I would have expected us to see it through’, said Pearson. ‘But when you have an injury at half-time and then two players come off because they’ve got cramp, it just shows you the situation that we find ourselves in’.
Tranmere took advantage and battled back in the second half, and Paul Mullin was able to knock down the equaliser in the closing moments of the game. The Rovers had 12 shot attempts and seven of those were on target.
‘It’s disappointing that we have to replay the tie, but I would rather replay it than not be in it. It’s one of those things’, said Pearson. ‘Football is always going to surprise us but it also gives us lessons in terms of never taking anything for granted’.
The Hornets are set to play Bournemouth this weekend, and a win would result in a tie with Aston Villa for the 17th place in the Premier League table. Fans will have to wait on the latest news to see if Pearson’s decision to rest his best players for that match will pay off.