M'Baye Niang enjoys dream home debut as Watford edge past Burnley

Watford edged an incident-packed game 2-1 against Burnley on Saturday; the pivotal moment the early dismissal of visiting midfielder Jeff Hendrick.

The home side initially made light work of exploiting the man advantage and raced into a two goal lead, but a spirited second half showing from the visitors made for a nail-biting finale.


Watford's trio of January signings looked excellent and it can be no coincidence that a marked improvement in form has coincided with the arrival of Tom Cleverley, Mauro Zarate and M'Baye Niang.

After the momentous 2-1 victory at Arsenal in midweek, the visit of Burnley was always going to provide a tough challenge and regardless of the circumstances, three points represents an excellent result.


Walter Mazzarri was critical of his side for not going on to score more, and Watford's second half display lacked urgency. A Tom Heaton wonder save prevented a game-killing third with 20 minutes to go, but the Hornets should have put this one out of reach and avoided a difficult closing few minutes.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Stuck with the system that worked so well and continues to have to manage players returning to full fitness. Mazzarri has only named the same side in consecutive games once all season. Was concerned by the second half display and must shoulder some of the responsibility for an unnecessarily uncomfortable end to the game.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Heurelho Gomes, 7 -- This game showcased the best and worst of the Brazilian goalkeeper. On more than one occasion he came rushing out to balls that he would never reach, but also made a number of critical saves including a wonderful stop from a goal-bound Michael Keane header.

DF Craig Cathcart, 7 -- A poor touch gifted Burnley the chance to snatch a late equaliser, but for the most part Cathcart did a good job in an unfamiliar right-back role. Found himself getting forward and used the ball well, playing in Niang who subsequently delivered for Deeney's opener.

DF Younes Kaboul, 7 -- Continues to go from strength to strength. Was first to everything and was particularly dominant in the air. A momentary lapse almost allowed Andre Gray an opportunity early in the second half, but this was good stuff from the Frenchman.

DF Sebastian Prodl, 7 -- Gave away a penalty for handball during a frenetic period of play, but this was another assured performance from the centre-back. Composed and confident throughout.

DF Jose Holebas, 7 -- Was lucky not to sustain serious injury after Hendrick's early foul, but had to walk the disciplinary tightrope himself after being booked for a high foot. Produced a perfect cross for Niang to head home Watford's second.

MF Valon Behrami, 6 -- Question marks remain over his fitness but he is a vital part in what is an increasingly attack-minded side. Applied himself with his usual levels of vigour.

MF Etienne Capoue, 7 -- Was unable to hit the heights of his midweek showing against Arsenal, but showed glimpses of what he is capable of. Had a decent chance to score with 20 minutes to go after an excellent run and cross from Holebas.

MF Mauro Zarate, 7 -- An impressive display that could have been capped with a first half goal had he not fired straight at Heaton with one effort before curling a second narrowly wide. An industrious performance, the Argentinian worked hard and showed occasional flashes of skill and footwork that should make him a valuable asset.

MF Tom Cleverley, 8 -- Another dynamic performance. He maintained possession, pushed forward, tracked back and kept the ball moving. Fast establishing himself as one of Watford's most important players.

MF M'Baye Niang 8 -- A fine home debut from the AC Milan loanee. Made Watford's first goal with a perfect cross and scored the second with a magnificent guided header. Gave the Burnley defence nightmares throughout, consistently beating his man. Also switched play to great effect on a number of occasions.

FW Troy Deeney, 7 -- Headed home a difficult opportunity after 10 minutes and was unlucky not to score more. He was denied by an almost impossible save from Heaton after 70 minutes, before having a last minute strike unfortunately chalked off for handball. His header made it three goals in three league games. Back in dangerous form.


MF Abdoulaye Doucoure, 6 -- Replaced Behrami and struggled to make an impact.

FW Isaac Success, N/R -- Despite his late introduction nine minutes from time, he managed to make an impact -- a fine run and cross resulting in Deeney's late disallowed goal.

DF Daryl Janmaat, N/R -- Came on for Zarate with minutes to go and looked strangely ill at ease.