Watford were rightly praised for their impressive heart and fight earlier in the season, picking up late points against Swansea, West Brom, Arsenal and Liverpool, but things have taken a turn in the past few weeks.

Leading at Chelsea with 20 minutes to go and throwing it away is one thing. It's not forgivable, but it's understandable up against the Premier League champions, even if Crystal Palace had made them look silly a week before.

Lacking the nouse to get through a Stoke City side that was admittedly well-organised but also painfully limited is less excusable.

You couldn't argue with Marco Silva's assessment that Watford improved after half-time, but they didn't have a shot on target across the 90 minutes, and still lost, so does it really make a difference?

I think you get where this is going. Being 2-0 up at Everton with 23 minutes to go and collapsing like a house of cards the moment the timid hosts realised they could actually score is really pushing it.

The game undoubtedly changed the moment Heurelho Gomes went off, as Silva himself has said. Not that it made a difference for the first few minutes, as Watford scored a second (and neither Gomes nor Orestis Karnezis are known for their goalscoring feats from corners).

Even aside from Karnezis' bloopers for both of Everton's comeback goals, though, Watford looked suddenly fragile where they had previously seemed in full control until the moment Oumar Niasse started the comeback following an almighty mess at the back.

That's two away games in succession where Watford have crumbled, and a home game sandwiched in the middle where they did not have the insightfulness to get beyond a limited Stoke side.

If nothing else, it shows where Watford need to strengthen in January. They're lacking leadership at the back, another topic Silva brought up in regards to Gomes' substitution.

Christian Kabasele has shown himself to be a surprisingly capable defender this season but he's not a tub-thumping, in-your-face, chorus-rousing leader, and they need one of those at the back. Miguel Britos, Younes Kaboul and Adrian Mariappa aren't captain material either.

There's one glaring omission - Sebastian Prodl - but given his recent injury record he'll need one hell of a voice to command a defence from the stands.

It's notable that of the 10 signings Watford made in the summer, only one of them is a defender likely to challenge for a first-team spot - and even Kiko Femenia's arrival was agreed long before Marco Silva took charge.

Molla Wague was not the centre-half the head coach wanted, that much is clear, and when he surprised everyone in playing down the club's achievements in the final week of the window back in September, it looks like that (as well as the ludicrous winger situation) was well in the firing line.

Watford's defence isn't the best but it's not hugely short on quality, however they do lack a voice when Gomes is off the field. And if any of us took the unpredictable big Brazilian for granted before his injury on Sunday, we probably don't now.

Even when Gomes is around, such a voice might be better at organising them from corners, because that's five games in a row now where they've shipped from flag kicks.

In fact, of the eight goals they have conceded in the past three games, three are from corners, another two from horrendous defensive mistakes and another two from headers in open play. A ball-winning leader could make the difference to eliminate them.

Silva is right to say zonal marking isn't to blame, but how long does it go on before his players either learn to deploy it properly, or chuck it in the bin altogether?

A genuine alternative for Roberto Pereyra in the 10 role is a must, too, but that might not need outside investment if Will Hughes can prove Sunday wasn't just a flash in the pan.

The ex-Derby man was excellent, looked 10 times the player he did from his other start against Bristol City in August and was, aside from the impressive recalled Andre Gray, the best player in red on the pitch.