Watford 2:1 Leicester City
City’s poor run continued at Vicarage Road, where Watford were 2-0 up by the 12th minute on Saturday afternoon…
Claudio Ranieri brought Vardy, Amartey and Albrighton back into a starting line-up that looked like last season’s title winners, minus Schmeichel and Kante.
But the team sheet was where the similarity ended, as City found themselves a goal down after 32 seconds. Pereyra crossed from the left, Deeney nodded on with a delicate header into the path of Capoue, who sent his first time effort into the turf and up beyond Zieler’s reach.
If this stunned the Champions, worse was to come in the 12th minute when the hosts went further ahead. Pereyra cut in from the left, stepped round Drinkwater and curled a sublime shot into the top right hand corner.
This stung City into a reaction and they were awarded a penalty after a quarter of an hour.
Britos bundled Vardy over with a clumsy challenge and Mahrez halved the deficit from 12 yards.
The rest of the half was a complete scrap, with neither side able to string three passes together and some niggly challenges. Chances were few and far between, with a Huth header over the bar being City’s closest effort.
City still trailed at the break, but had been the better side in the later stages of the half.
The second half was equally scrappy, as City pursued an equaliser and Watford, on the back of a 6-1 defeat at Anfield, were grimly determined to hang on to the win.
Pereyra had the goal at his mercy with a close range header, but sent it too close to Zieler who pulled off a good save to keep City in the game.
As the clock ticked down, City attacked down the flanks through Mahrez and then Gray, but they lacked the aerial presence in the middle and several crosses were headed clear or easily caught by Gomes.
Schlupp was also brought on and delivered two decent cut-backs from the left, but fellow-sub Musa failed to take advantage when well placed.
Referee Neil Swarbrick didn’t help City’s cause. A free-kick was awarded against Huth for getting his head to a cross, and Vardy was also penalised after a race to a loose ball ended with a 50-50 challenge between him and Gomes.
Several shots from the edge of the area were blocked by a yellow wall and there were loud appeals for handball from the away section on three occasions, though all of them were for hard shots from close-range.
Watford survived a frantic late spell, though Gomes didn’t have a shot to save, and City paid for their slow start with another defeat.
Claudio Ranieri remained positive: “Watford scored two fantastic goals and then we did a very fantastic reaction, Gomes didn’t make any saves but I think until the end we had a chance to score a goal because the team was alive. But against us today there was a big wall to stop all our shots at goal. We lost the match but the spirit is high. I’m proud of them.”
Despite the Premier League struggles, City could qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night, and Ranieri needs to keep the mood buoyant.