Watford's 2019 campaign got off to an exciting start in a six-goal feast of football at the Vitality Stadium last night.

The Hornets were pegged back from both 2-0 and 3-2 in a game that saw defending take a back seat in the first half, as both sides pushed on to try and end undesirable winless New Year opening game records, dating back seven years.

Head coach Javi Gracia made five changes from Watford's lacklustre draw against Newcastle United, bringing Troy Deeney, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ken Sema, Jose Holebas and Kiko Femenia back into the starting line-up.

Deeney impressed with some clinical finishing, while Doucoure's work rate in the first half proved difficult to deal with, but it would be a tricky evening for returning defenders Holebas and Femenia.

Here's how we rated their performances:

Watford Observer:

Ben Foster - 8

The ever-reliable Ben Foster was again nicknamed 'Big Ben' by Gracia after the game and it is no surprise after another huge performance.

Foster made some really important stops in the second half to prevent the home side from taking all three points.

He did concede three goals, but the defending in front of him left a lot to be desired.

Kiko Femenia - 5

Femenia returned to the starting line-up and struggled to cope with Ryan Fraser.

The Spaniard looked out of sorts as he was run ragged by the Bournemouth winger, while he also struggled to get forward and make any impact at the other end of the field.

He did provide the pass to Doucoure that eventually led to Deeney's opening goal, but in truth, this is a performance he will want to move on from as soon as possible.

Adrian Mariappa - 6

A resolute performance at the centre from Mariappa helped Foster to keep the score down to three.

He tracked both Josh King and Callum Wilson well at times and worked hard to limit the Cherries' attempts on goal.

That said, he was caught out twice by set pieces that led to goals for the home side, something Gracia will want to work on before the Hornets' next game.

Craig Cathcart - 4

Out of all the Watford players, it will be Cathcart who will be most thankful for Foster's important saves.

The defender regularly looked bewildered at times and gifted two golden opportunities to the Cherries in the second half.

Fortunately for him, he had an in-form keeper behind him. A performance to forget for the Northern Irishman.

Jose Holebas - 5

Another poor defensive performance here, showing how Bournemouth were able to score three goals quite so easily.

Holebas failed to show his usual work-rate and had real problems dealing with the threat of Junior Stanislas.

The Greek full-back has received praise for his attacking work and creativity this season, but it was not on show at the Vitality, as he struggled to influence the game.

Etienne Capoue - 6

Capoue was solid at times in the centre and made the Bournemouth midfielders work hard in the first half, as Watford dominated spells of possession.

However, he seemed to go missing in the second half and allowed the home side a lot more time on the ball.

He could have done more after the restart to try and get the Hornets back on the front foot, but struggled.

Abdoulaye Doucoure - 6

Doucoure's first-half display was solid, as he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and used his creativity well to produce the game's first goal.

He lost his head a bit following a robust challenge on Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser and after receiving a yellow card, when some might have given him a red, he looked shy and tentative.

With his impact on the game diminished, he was swapped for Tom Cleverley after just 11 minutes of the second half.

Watford Observer:

Ken Sema - 7

Sema's goal was arguably the best of the lot, as he controlled Deeney's flicked header perfectly before beating Asmir Begovic with a pinpoint strike.

He also put the ball on a plate for Deeney's first, showing why the head coach has been putting increasing faith in him this season.

An uninspiring second half shows that he still has to work on his consistency, but overall a strong showing.

Roberto Pereyra - 5

Usually a livewire for the Hornets' attack, Pereyra went missing in action for most of the game and was marshalled well by a makeshift Bournemouth defence.

A poor shot in the first half that went miles over the bar was about as threatening as the Argentine got in the game, when a bit more attacking invention could have made the difference on the night.

Gerard Deulofeu - 6

A superb lung-busting run from the former Barcelona man gifted Deeney a second goal and similar efforts in the second half demonstrated why he is so important for Watford going forward.

However, the game passed him by for large spells and he seemed reluctant to drop deeper than usual in order to make an impact.

He was swapped for Isaac Success in the dying moments of the game.

Troy Deeney - 8

A very strong performance from the Hornets' skipper who made himself a nuisance in the Bournemouth back line.

Two goals show that he is still just as clinical as ever in front of goal, while his flicked on header to provide a goal for Sema shows why he is also so important for the whole team.

He could have got himself a hat-trick in the game's closing moments, but a clumsy challenge on Nathan Ake meant that he conceded a free-kick instead, but overall his performance was one to admire.


Tom Cleverley - 5

Cleverley is still clearly suffering from some rustiness following his long-term injury and really struggled to make an impact after replacing Doucoure.

Although he almost won the Hornets a late penalty, his performances will need to improve if he is to work his way back into the starting line-up.

Will Hughes - 5

This was another substitution that failed to change the game in Watford's favour.

Hughes went missing almost as soon as he came on and while it will be encouraging for Gracia to once again have the midfielder available for selection again, he will need time to work on his match-fitness before he can push to be a regular starter.

Isaac Success - N/A

Joined the game too late to gain a rating.