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.”
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