After a run of three matches without a goal and two without so much as a shot on target, Watford have a Premier League victory. It arrived in adversity too, as they had been reduced to 10 men for the last half-hour following Valon Behrami’s stamp on Andre Ayew.
The odds at that stage must have been on Swansea maintaining their unbeaten record but Ayew and Bafetemi Gomis, with seven previous goals between them, were as badly out of sorts as the rest of the team and the home side clung on with admirable determination to Odion Ighalo’s earlier goal.
With more new players (15) than any other club, six of them starting yesterday, they are going to need time to gel but manager Quique Flores – another newcomer – saw signs that it may all be coming together.
“We are a new team but with experienced players,” he said. That experience, he felt, helped them survive an unexpectedly long period of seven minutes’ added time, although Behrami, once of West Ham and with nearly 60 Swiss caps is worldly enough not to have reacted as he did in challenging Ayew five minutes after Watford scored.
Swansea’s Garry Monk was understandably downbeat, if rigorously honest about his side’s worst performance of the young season. “None of us performed to the levels we’re capable of,” he said, blaming a “lack of focus”.
The goal revived memories of the era of two former Watford heroes with stands now named after them: Graham Taylor and Sir Elton John. It stemmed from a long punt downfield, headed square by Troy Deeney for Ighalo, who drove it past Lukasz Fabianski. Watford twice wasted further chances with two spare men on the break, but they almost conceded too in stoppage time.
Watford: (4-4-2) Gomes; Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Anya; Abdi (Watson, 66), Behrami, Capoue, Jurado; Deeney (Diaminti, 83), Ighalo (Berghuis, 69).
Swansea: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork (Ki, 65), Shelvey; Ayew, Sigurdsson (Eder, 69), Routledge (Montero, 60); Gomis.
Referee: Bobby Madley
Man of the match: Prödl (Watford)
Match rating: 6/10