Only Troy Deeney has scored more Premier League goals for Watford than Abdoulaye Doucoure’s 16Watford climbed above Bournemouth and out of the relegation zone for the first time this season after a convincing victory over the Cherries at the Vitality Stadium.Abdoulaye Doucoure capitalised on an error by Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers to fire home the opener from six yards shortly before half-time.Hornets captain Troy Deeney then doubled Watford’s advantage midway through the second half with a powerful close-range effort after Ismaila Sarr’s cross fell into this path.Substitute Roberto Pereyra completed the win in stoppage time with a fierce volley after Andre Gray’s shot had been cleared off the line by Ryan Fraser.The win means Watford have now collected 13 points from six Premier League matches since Nigel Pearson’s appointment last month.Bournemouth, in contrast, have now lost nine of their last 11 Premier League matches to drop to second bottom and leave manager Eddie Howe under increasing pressure.Watford raise hopes of great escapeOnly Liverpool and Manchester City have collected more points than Watford since Nigel Pearson’s appointment, a run of form that has seen the club go from six points adrift at the bottom of the table to out of the drop zone in the space of six matches.Pearson’s side pressed high up the pitch early on as Bournemouth attempted to play out from the back, forcing mistakes that created two early opportunities for Sarr and Gerard Deulofeu that were well saved by Travers.Travers was making his first Premier League start of the season in the absence of the injured Aaron Ramsdale and it was his error shortly before the break that led to the opener.The 20-year-old, under pressure from Deulofeu, gave the ball straight to Sarr on the edge of the area. The Senegal winger then crossed into the six-yard box for Doucoure, who took a touch before blasting the ball into the roof of the net for his second goal in as many matches.As Bournemouth committed more men forward in the second half Watford looked to hit on the counter, with Sarr and Doucoure combining for Deulofeu to slice wide shortly after the restart.They deservedly grabbed their second on 65 minutes when Sarr’s cross was deflected into the path of Deeney, who drove powerfully into the corner beyond an unmoved Travers.Deeney and Deulofeu both went close as Bournemouth became increasingly ragged, with Pereyra wrapping up a fine win with virtually the last kick of the game.Bournemouth’s slide continuesBournemouth started a game in relegation zone for the first time in more than two years after being as high as seventh when they beat Manchester United at the start of November.Since then the south-coast club have taken just four points from their last 11 matches, the worst run of form in the division.Howe said in his programme notes that this game marked a “season-defining period” for the Cherries, with their next three league games after today against sides currently in the bottom seven.But any hopes of a bright start to settle early nerves proved unfounded, with the home side sloppy in possession as they struggled to break free of Watford’s high press.Their best chance of the first half came from a set-piece, with Harry Wilson’s curling free-kick well pushed away by Ben Foster.They failed to muster a single shot on target in the second period, with the game virtually over as a contest once Watford had scored their second goal.Plenty of Bournemouth fans had already left by the final whistle, with a number of those remaining booing a third successive Premier League defeat without scoring a goal. Man of the match – Troy Deeney (Watford)
The Watford skipper has been central to their revival, with his goal against Bournemouth his fourth in six games since Pearson’s appointment’We are in a difficult moment’ – what they saidBournemouth boss Eddie Howe speaking to Match of the Day: “Tough game, we battled and stuck to the game in the first half. It wasn’t a great performance from either team before half-time but the goal sucked the life out of us and gave them a boost.”We needed to do better. We weren’t creative enough, similar to recent weeks, and the first goal is a hammer blow for us. It is a team thing and we didn’t execute what we wanted, put ourselves under pressure and conceded a poor goal.”We all learn from those moments and the team has to take responsibility. It was difficult for us today, we had a strong team, good balance, so it’s disappointing. We are always concerned when we don’t win. We were desperate to do well. The first goal damaged us mentally and we didn’t recover. We are in a difficult moment and need to lift ourselves.”Watford manager Nigel Pearson, also to Match of the Day: “It is a very big result, a great win and one the players worked very hard to secure. It is a very positive step in the right direction for us.”We had to work exceptionally hard for it because there were times we didn’t play as well with the ball as we’d have liked. We have run away comfortable winners in the end, but it was a game we had to fight and protect our goal with a lot of resilience.”We got the balance right today in doing what the game needed. It was a tougher game than the scoreline suggests but we thoroughly deserved the win.”There is no magic formula, the players will drive it. We create the framework for the players to go and play – it is just about trying to maximise what we’ve got. I want to enjoy myself, even though there are times you probably think I don’t, I want to enjoy the challenge and it’s still going to be a tough call. There is an awful long way to go.”Pearson’s winning run continues – the statsWatford boss Nigel Pearson (P15 W11 D2 L2) is the first English manager to win at least 11 Premier League matches across a 15-game spell in the competition since Harry Redknapp in January 2012 (also 11).Bournemouth have now lost 81 Premier League games since their first campaign in the competition in 2015-16 – only today’s victors Watford (82) have suffered more in this time. The Cherries have also conceded the most goals in the competition since their first game back in August 2015 (300).Watford (P5 W4 D1 L0) have now picked up 13 points from the last 15 available in the Premier League, as many as they won across their previous 22 matches in the competition (13 out of a possible 66).Watford have now scored the opening goal in their last five Premier League games, having done so in just four of their previous 17 matches in the competition this season – indeed, only Liverpool (last 10) are on a longer current such run than the Hornets.Bournemouth had their first and only shot on target against Watford in the ninth minute; indeed, it is the third time in their last seven Premier League games the Cherries haven’t managed more than one shot on target in a match (0 v Liverpool and Burnley in December).Watford’s Troy Deeney has scored eight league goals against Bournemouth in 14 appearances – more goals than he has versus any other opponent during his English league career.Abdoulaye Doucoure has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since April 2019; the Frenchman has now scored 16 goals in the competition for Watford – only Deeney (41) has more for the Hornets.Ismaila Sarr has had a direct hand in four goals in six Premier League games for Watford under Nigel Pearson (2 goals, 2 assist) – the Senegal international had previously only scored once and delivered no assists in nine matches under previous bosses Quique Sanchez Flores, Hayden Mullins and Javi Gracia.What’s next?Watford travel to League One Tranmere for their FA Cup third-round replay on Tuesday (19:45 GMT) before hosting Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday (12:30). Bournemouth are also in Premier League action later on Saturday, away at Norwich (15:00).