The Hornets maintained their perfect start in the Premier League to move behind Liverpool at the top of the table on goal difference. Roberto Pereyra scored his third goal in as many games with an exquisite curling effort, before Jose Holebas added a seemingly unintentional second from outside the area in a resurgent second-half display.
Watford manager Javi Gracia says his side have achieved “something massive” after beating Crystal Palace to win their opening three games of the season for the first time in their top-flight history. “There is no secret. The most important thing is to work hard, and the players are being rewarded for all of their outstanding work from the pre-season,” said Gracia.
“Pereyra is scoring goals and he is an important player for us, but I would like to recognise the players that are not playing at the moment.” Watford had been fortunate to be level at the interval, veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster pulling off two reflex saves to deny Christian Benteke and James McArthur early on.
Palace threatened in the opening exchanges despite their talisman Wilfried Zaha being the victim of a fierce tackle from Etienne Capoue, for which the Watford midfielder was fortunate to receive only a booking. Zaha did pull a goal back for the visitors late on, beating his marker to drill the ball through Foster’s legs, but Watford withstood the fightback to claim all three points.
Holebas shines in the rain
Watford have won their opening three games of a top-flight campaign for the first time, and Holebas’ performance epitomised their impressive early season form. Foster was crucial in keeping Palace at bay in the first half, but Holebas was equally influential, as well as supporting attacks at the other end.
When McArthur played a neat one-two with Benteke and ran into the hosts’ box, Holebas was on hand to slide in and nick the ball away as the Palace player was poised to shoot.
And the defender’s first Premier League goal since October 2016 ultimately proved the difference, if rather fortuitously, as he admitted to Sky Sports afterwards that it was an attempted cross that deceived Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and looped into the corner.
In Pereyra, Watford have a real talisman. The Argentine has been directly involved in seven of the club’s past 10 goals in the Premier League, scoring six and assisting another and it was a moment of brilliance to open the scoring as he curled the ball past a diving Wayne Hennessey from just inside the area.
Watford’s three wins have come against Brighton, Burnley and Crystal Palace, and clearly they will face tougher challenges, but with the work ethic and determination on show by Holebas and his team-mates today, Javi Gracia’s men have every prospect of a successful season.
Zaha on target despite special attention
Watford had clearly focused their efforts on stopping Zaha, but in the fourth minute, Capoue crossed a line when he appeared to stamp on the Ivory Coast international’s Achilles. On another day the Frenchman might not have been on the pitch long enough to assist in Pereyra’s opening goal.
Source: BBC News