Post by Football News on Jan 31, 2018 22:16:49 GMT
Stoke 0-0 Watford
There was plenty of bad blood and seven yellow cards but no sign of any goals in a match in which Stoke and Watford did little to improve their survival prospects.
Javi Gracia, who was taking charge of his first Premier League game since becoming Watford’s manager, is entitled to take some satisfaction from collecting an away point, yet it was hard to see how Paul Lambert, his opposite number, could glean many positives from a stalemate that was every bit as bad as the scoreline suggests.
The one piece of good news for Stoke is that they are out of the relegation zone, yet this felt like two points dropped on a night when Jon Moss, the referee, was as busy as anyone.
The last meeting between these teams in October was a fractious encounter and a few early incidents suggested there was still a bit of ill-feeling. Troy Deeney, who received a three-match retrospective ban for grabbing Joe Allen around the neck in the game at Vicarage Road, was like a raging bull as he tried to shake off Ryan Shawcross before the two squared up.
Christian Kabasele had already received a yellow card by that stage for catching Xherdan Shaqiri in the face with a flailing arm and by half-time Charlie Adam and Moritz Bauer were also booked for Stoke.
It was that sort of game – scrappy, niggly and short of quality. Stoke created only two chances before the interval. Mame Diouf, stretching to meet an inswinging cross from Adam, headed wide in the fourth minute, and Maxim Choupo-Moting placed a more presentable chance narrowly beyond the far post after Adam’s shot was blocked.
It was not exactly thrilling to watch and the biggest cheer by far came at half-time, when Badou Ndiaye, a €14m signing from Galatasaray, was introduced to the Stoke fans.
Watford carried the greater threat without ever looking convincing in front of goal. Sebastian Prödl had a shot saved inside the opening 60 seconds, Abdoulaye Doucouré’s header drifted wide and Richarlison, darting across the near post, lifted the ball over from six yards out after Gerard Deulofeu, making his Watford debut following his loan move from Barcelona, crossed from the right.
Tempers boiled over again at the restart. José Holebas was booked for Watford and Diouf soon followed him. Finally some football broke out as Allen volleyed over a cross from Choupo-Moting. Then came the clearest chance as Shaqiri, latching onto Prödl’s poor header, found himself clean through. His first shot was repelled by Orestis Karnezis and Peter Crouch, on as substitute, headed the rebound into the Watford goalkeeper’s arms. At the other end, Shawcross superbly blocked Doucouré’s shot and Roberto Pereyra was denied by Jack Butland.