First Team 01/03/2020

Capoue: “Sarr Made The Difference”

By Kevin Affleck

Étienne Capoue, who summed up the insatiable appetite for more with a lung-busting double press late in the second half, wants his teammates to follow up the seismic win over Liverpool with one at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The midfield general is always colossal in these sorts of wins at Vicarage Road and he, along with the excellent Will Hughes and the tireless Abdoulaye Doucouré, ensured the home side won the key midfield battle hands down with another all-action performance. But the Frenchman was keen not to dwell on this one for too long, a sign of his new-found leadership role in the team, and prove this memorable 3-0 win was no flash in the pan.

“We are really happy but we have a goal to achieve,” he said. “We are not in a good position in the table so we need to keep our feet on the ground and stay really focussed on our goal. Sometimes it's like this, sometimes a season is difficult and this one is really difficult. It's a good experience for us and we need to show character until the last game of the season. We are really focussed and it's a game [on Saturday] we have to win – it's simple. If we want to stay in the Premier League, those are the type of games you have to win.”

Head Coach Nigel Pearson and his backroom team of Craig Shakespeare, Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack had spent the week plotting this win over Jürgen Klopp's side and the team executed the game plan perfectly and with such intensity.

“We had a plan and we've been working on it all week and we just followed the plan,” said Capoue. “We were really focussed and that made the difference today. We knew we had nothing to lose and the crowd were behind us from the first minute. We managed the first half well and we made the difference in the second half.”

The Hornets also had the trump card in Ismaïla Sarr who scored two and made the other for Troy Deeney. His pace frightened the life out of Liverpool and he proved too hot to handle, particularly in the second half.

“Ismaïla made the difference,” said Capoue. “We missed him for a few games and we struggled but now he's back and you can see he made the difference. He's really important for us.”

The foundation for the win was laid at the back where the Hornets became the first Premier League team since Everton in March to keep the free-scoring Reds at bay.

“Fozzy had nothing to do,” said Capoue. “The clean sheet at home is really important for us. It makes us really confident for the next game but this was just a bonus game – the game we have to win is next Saturday.”

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First Team 01/03/2020

Sarr: “I Wanted The Hat-Trick!”

Ismaïla Sarr has such ambition and hunger that he walked off the field after dismantling Liverpool, the world and European champions, disappointed that he didn't claim the matchball.

Sarr showed extraordinary anticipation to nip in front of Andrew Robertson and poke in the first after 54 minutes. He then sped away from Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk before nervelessly clipping one over Alisson Becker six minutes later. He almost brought the house down and capped an electric performance with a third, but curled an 82nd-minute effort just past the far post.

“I'm really, really disappointed because I really wanted the [match] ball today,” he said. “I had a big chance to get the hat-trick. I'll try for the next game to get the points for my team.”

Sarr has impressed all of his teammates with his work ethic, with his ability to get back and do the hard yards. He was at it early on in his first start in more than a month, tracking all the way back to stop Robertson from getting on the end of one near the byline. 

“I'm just here to work hard for the team,” said the 22-cap Senegal international. “I did my job and my two goals were because of the team. Today was just job done. For the first, I felt someone was going to cross it so I went to the first post. For the second, I had the experience to wait and chip the keeper.”

The win also gives Sarr the bragging rights over his big mate and fellow countryman Sadio Mané.

“I'm really happy because I won against him,” said Sarr. “We lost away and wanted to win at home. We did it with big character today.”

Head Coach Nigel Pearson was quick to get Sarr, his ace in the pack, back as quickly as possible from a hamstring injury, but he wasn't going to play to the crowd and rush him back for a short-term fix and then risk losing a player with such match-turning qualities for the rest of the run-in.

“He [Sarr] is a good player, a really good player, and young as well,” said Pearson. “I'm reluctant to put too high an expectation on him, when you’ve got young players it’s important for them to enjoy their football, but his impact was very good today. We need to do everything we can to keep him available.”

Troy Deeney loves playing with Sarr as the 22-year-old is an old-fashioned winger who gets behind his man and gets the ball in the box, a dream for a centre-forward like the Watford captain. His pace also forces a defence to retreat, leaving more space for Deeney to operate in the pocket.

“When you've got the pace of Sarr, you are always in with a chance,” the captain told Sky Sports. “When you've got a player like Sarr with his raw pace, it's very difficult to stop him.”

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