Watford 0-0 Sheffield United: The talking points
The Star’s Sheffield United writer James Shield identifies some of the themes to emerge from today’s match at Vicarage Road.
He has nothing to prove to anyone at Bramall Lane. But Dean Henderson knew his performance would be scrutinised the the n'th degree following last weekend's mistake against Liverpool. The goalkeeper proved his quality - and his character - early in the second half when he saved with his legs to deny Danny Welbeck, who had charged unmarked into United's penalty area. Henderson, who had stayed on his feet and refused to commit himself despite the striker's skips and feints, reacted by raising his arms aloft and then gesturing to the away supporters congregated at the opposite end of Vicarage Road. Henderson excelled himself again, parrying away a Craig Dawson header in added time.
A SHOW OF RESPECT
Chris Wilder, the United manager, admitted his players were "frustrated" not to have taken more from the game. After all, Watford are still without a win in the Premier League this term. But a scan through the hosts' team sheet reveals some players of real quality. So the fact they selected three centre-halves, against a United side embarking upon its first top flight campaign since 2007, was a nod of respect towards the visitors. Watford's tactics underlined United are adapting successfully to life at the highest level. With their confidence low following a dreadful run in the league, Watford must have feared the worst when Andre Gray scooped the ball over the crossbar from less than six yards out. It seemed harder for the centre-forward to miss than score, after a defensive lapse left him unmarked at the far post. But the former Burnley striker somehow pulled-off the impossible. Had he scored, it would have done wonders for the hosts' confidence. Instead, after a brief flurry, they quickly retreated back into the shells. Psychologically, Watford looked shot until improving after the interval.
There was a moment, just past the mid-point of the first-half, which perfectly summed-up why neither side were able to break the deadlock.Watford defender Jose Holebas was stripped of the ball by George Baldock, as he attempted to shepherd it out of play and behind for a goal kick. But the United defender was then robbed himself as he wondered whether or not to run into the penalty area or attempt a cross instead. Watford were terrible at the back and seemingly incapable of making a sensible decision. But United lacked the sharpness required to really take advantage.