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  • "I think Powell would have been delighted to see both Vydra and Deeney not on the Watford team sheet. The Charlton tactics to press high up on us worked with always Almunia throwing the ball out to players who were always under pressure. The lack of a holding midfielder was equally odd baring in mind the inexperience (Hoban) and frail nature (Nueton) of the back three, Ekstrand found filling Halls boots impossible - it meant no one was defending the defence which is what Hogg does so well.

    For me Vydra's pace would have forced Charlton to sit deeper as the threat of the ball over the top would have terrified them and we lacked Deeneys physicality. Geijo was indeed very good in the second half but in the first he failed to come to the ball too many times where Deeney would have bought us time and composure on the ball.

    But what a diference a year makes I thought the football that we tried to play was still great and if we lose by the odd goal then I'd rather lose 3-4 than 0-1 (yes of course I would like to win 3-2 or 3-0 but this cant always happen)

    I would love Zola to have a plan B formation to accomodate Forestieri and Vydra together as they are both great players and to ensure that the core of the side is solid.

    We lost but I still feel like I woke up on the Chrstmas day and unwrapped a football club shaped present, probably made by Carlsberg.

    And well done those who waited to applaud Chris Powell - a top bloke doing a good job.

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Gianfranco Zola doesn't believe five changes to blame for Watford's defeat against Charlton Athletic

First published in Sport by , Group Sports Editor

Gianfranco Zola was critical of Watford’s “sloppy” first-half performance after his side’s 4-3 defeat to Charlton Athletic this afternoon.

Despite taking an early lead through Daniel Pudil’s first goal for the club, the Hornets were very disappointing in the opening period and found themselves behind at the break after a Tommie Hoban own goal and Yann Kermorgant’s header.

Zola’s side needed to improve after the break, and they did, taking the lead by midway through the second half thanks to an Almen Abdi penalty and Alex Geijo. However, Kermorgant turned in the equaliser before Johnnie Jackson won the three points 12 minutes from time.

The Watford boss said: “I think that today the reason why we didn’t win is we gave away 45 minutes, something you cannot afford in this Championship. Maybe we had too many compliments the other day [after beating Brighton] and we went on the pitch with probably not the same awareness they had because they were winning all the second balls, they were winning all the headers and they found themselves 2-1 doing little, it was more us allowing them to get into the game.

“No disrespect towards them but we let them get into the game too much because we were not sharp enough. That sharpness for me comes mainly because we didn’t manage to get the attention right and you can’t afford that in this league.

“The second half was better. We tried to get the rhythm a little bit better, higher, more quality in the passing but unfortunately our defending today as well wasn’t the best. It’s disappointing but a good lesson again for us. We will certainly next time be aware that after a good game you need to make sure you get the same concentration.”

Although one change was enforced following Fitz Hall’s hamstring injury in the win at Brighton & Hove Albion, Zola also chose to drop Ikechi Anya, Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra down to the bench, while Jonathan Hogg was left out of the matchday squad.

Asked if he regretted making five changes, he replied: “Not at all. I’ve made them before and it worked. I don’t think the problem lies in there, I think it was more like that [they] just didn’t focus.

“The players that played, Geijo, Forestieri, they did quite well, so I don’t think the fact we changed many players has got something to do with the game.”

Zola added later: “We went in front but we were not certainly the normal time that we are. The passing wasn’t good enough, we were sloppy, honestly, we were sloppy and it was very costly. We tried to get into the game, in the second half we did better, but sometimes it’s too late. If you don’t prepare and you aren’t mentally [focused] before the game, it becomes very, very difficult to do when you are in the game.”

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