It was a miserable afternoon all-round at Vicarage Road as Watford delivered their first bad performance of the season in a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Bournemouth.

The Hornets were not helped by having to play two-thirds of the game with 10 men but, although some will point a finger of blame at referee Jon Moss, few could argue that the Cherries were deserving victors.

While they had looked capable of threatening going forward, there has been a sloppiness about Watford’s defensive play from the early stages and they were to fall behind when David Brooks was the grateful beneficiary from a counter-attack.

But it was to get much worse for the Hornets just after the half-hour mark when Christian Kabasele, who had already been booked, brought down Callum Wilson and was then shown a second yellow card.

Joshua King dispatched the penalty and was to double his tally at the end of the first half with a far-post header from a Wilson cross.

If there was any hint of remaining doubt about the outcome, it was removed within two minutes of the restart when Wilson made it 4-0.

Watford may have gone into the game without a win in their last three Premier League matches, but the fact performances had remained good was underlined by Javia Gracia’s team selection as he made just the one enforced change from the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal with Kiko Femenia coming in for his first top-flight start of the campaign in place of the injured Marc Navarro.

There was positive news among the substitutes though, with Gerard Deulofeu fit to take his place on the bench for the first time this season.

Bournemouth beat Crystal Palace 2-1 on Monday night to move level on points with the Hornets and Eddie Howe opted to leave well alone and name an unchanged line-up.

The Hornets started positively, winning their first corner inside the second minute when Troy Deeney saw a shot deflected wide after Abdoulaye Doucoure had won possession back on the edge of the Cherries box.

That set piece was repelled for a second corner which Jose Holebas again took from the right, but Asmir Begovic was able to claim with four opposition players around him inside the six-yard box.

Ben Foster was soon forced into action at the other end, going to ground to deal with Wilson’s attempts to pick out strike partner King with a ball across the face of the penalty area.

The home side had appeared to have settled the better though, and they had the chance to put more pressure on the Cherries defence when Simon Francis was penalised for a foul on Andre Gray.

Holebas swung in the free-kick from the left and the ball was headed up in the air and back towards his own goal by an opposition player, Kabasele went up with Begovic to challenge but it was to be yellow carded for leading with his arm.

The Hornets upped the attacking ante after that with the ball not quite falling for Roberto Pereyra eight yards out, but after Etienne Capoue had seen his follow-up blocked Will Hughes hit a left-footed shot from 18 yards which the diving Begovic clutched in the air.

Hughes was to see another shot blocked on the edge of the area but from that Bournemouth broke to devastating effect.

Ryan Fraser played an intelligent pass on the left to send King streaking clear, he centred across the area where Wilson came in at the far post and was denied by a superb save from Foster, but the fall fell kindly for Brooks to convert the rebound.

However, the Hornets had a great chance to get back on terms within a matter of minutes when a Holebas corner from the left picked out the unmarked Craig Cathcart, but he sent a free header wide of the near post.

Cathcart was then booked for a foul on Smith, meaning both Hornets centre-halves were on cautions inside the opening quarter of the game, before a mini defensive inquest was held by the hosts after Wilson had been left unchallenged to head a Brooks cross down and wide of Foster’s left-hand post.

The Hornets were looking sloppy defensively but they continued to ask questions of the Cherries rearguard from Holebas’ corners, his next delivery from the right into the near post seeing both Deeney and Cathcart have efforts blocked.

But Watford’s afternoon was to get significantly worse shortly after the half-an-hour when Kabasele got himself in a terrible mess as he allowed Wilson to get the wrong side of him as he ran inside the area from the right and in trying to retrieve the situation he brought the Bournemouth striker down from behind.

Moss had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and to make matters even worse for the home side, he then showed Kabasele a second yellow card. To complete the miserable spell of play from a Watford perspective, King made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0.

The Hornets were rocking and, with Capoue alongside him as makeshift centre-half, Cathcart almost put through his own net, but a difficult task was to be made even harder before the break.

Not for the first time since the opening whistle, the Hornets were opened up down their right as Wilson ran into space and advanced before clipping a cross to the far post where King headed down and beyond Foster to make it 3-0.

Gracia resisted the temptation to make any changes at the break, with Capoue continuing as a makeshift centre-half, but within two minutes of the restart Foster was to be picking the ball out of his net again.

Ryan Fraser had all the time in the world when he received the ball on the left before crossing to the near post where a lovely first touch saw him lift the ball beyond the stranded Hornets keeper to make it 4-0.

With a significant number of home fans voting with their feet and heading for the exits, Bournemouth’s next opportunity saw Nathan Ake head down and up into the hands of Foster from a corner.

Gracia made a double change after 55 minutes, bringing on Isaac Success and Adrian Mariappa for Gray and Hughes.

The Hornets had a spell in and around the Bournemouth box but they were in big trouble again when Pereyra was bundled off the ball in his own half by Wilson and the visitors had a three-on-two. The ball was played to the left where Fraser took on Femenia, but the Spaniard did well on this occasion and managed to repel the danger.

Howe made his first change after 66 minutes, bringing on Junior Stanislas for Fraser, but Watford kept plugging away and a driving run from Doucoure ended with him firing a shot wide of the near post.

Holebas was booked for a foul on Brooks, taking his tally for the season to five and a one-game suspension, and that was to be the Cherries midfielder’s last involvement in the match as he was replaced by Dan Gosling.

On an afternoon of very few positives for the Hornets, one was the return of Deulofeu as a 74th-minute replacement for Pereyra.

Bournemouth had threatened too much since wrapping the game up but after Capoue lost out in midfield to Jefferson Lerma, the ball was played to the hat-trick seeking King who drove into the area before seeing his shot blocked by Foster’s legs.

The match did get a little niggly in the closing stages with Cherries substitute Andrew Surman and Doucoure both picking up bookings, but this was definitely not the result or performance the Hornets would have wanted to take into the international break.

Watford: Foster; Femenia, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes (Mariappa 55), Doucoure, Capoue, Pereyra (Deulofeu 74); Gray (Success 55), Deeney. Subs not used: Gomes, Masina, Sema, Chalobah.

Bournemouth: Begovic; Francis, S Cook, Ake, Smith; Brooks (Gosling 70), Lerma, L Cook (Surman 78), Fraser (Stanislas 66); Wilson, King. Subs not used: Boruc, Ibe, Defoe, Rico.

Bookings: Kabasele for a foul on Begovic (11); Cathcart for a foul on Smith (22); Kabsele for a foul on Wilson – sent off (32); Holebas for a foul on Brooks (68); Surman for a foul on Femenia (87); Doucoure for a foul on Lerma (90).

Attendance: 20,139.

Referee: Jon Moss.