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Capoue volley puts Watford into FA Cup quarterfinals

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The 2018/19 FA Cup has its first quarterfinal team in the form of Watford after Etienne Capoue scored a bouncing volley on the stroke of halftime to top Queens Park Rangers 1-0.

Both sides proved wasteful as the 18 total combined shots produced just two on target, but that was all Watford needed to move on in London.

QPR led the corner count with five to Watford’s three, but the Hornets used the set-pieces to earn its goal in first-half stoppage time. Taking a short corner to work the ball onto the left foot of Tom Cleverley, the looping ball into the box found Massimo Luongo, and while his shot struck a teammate, it rebounded right to Capoue standing laterally from the original shot, and he leg-whipped the ball to produce a bouncer that wrong-footed Joe Lumley and found the far corner.

The hosts probably should have been level as regulation wound down, but Toni Leistner’s sliding effort to meet a cross by Darnell Furlong somehow went wide.

Watford’s spot in the quarterfinals is just their fourth appearance this deep in the FA Cup since a three-year stretch from 1985 to 1988 where they made it all three times. However, since 1988, all three appearances in the quarterfinals have seen the Hornets progress to the semis, including in 2016 when they topped Arsenal.

Watford, Burnley scrap to scoreless draw

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  • Burnley has late goal called offside
  • Clarets three clear of 18th
  • Watford 7th with 33 points

Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote that “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

Watford and Burnley flipped that on its ear with plenty of pain and an absence of beauty in a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but this first anecdote does make a fine claim in Vonnegut’s favor.

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Watford’s Jose Holebas threw the ball to Tom Cleverley, who passed it back to Holebas. The Greek international than thumped a volley into Cleverley’s stomach.

The hosts were lively from the opening kick, with Troy Deeney and Ken Sema nearly working a ball over the line in the first quarter hour.

Dwight McNeil hit a second half chance to make it 1-0 over the frame, and hit a shot that Chris Wood put home late but was judged to be offside.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Watford comes back to win at Crystal Palace (video)

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  • Cathcart own goal puts Palace ahead
  • Redemption for Cathcart makes it 1-1
  • Substitute Cleverley with rare goal to win it

Craig Cathcart scored for both sides, including an equalizer for his Hornets, as Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s other goal as Javi Gracia‘s men used the comeback to climb into seventh with 32 points.

Palace stays in 14th place with 22 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford hit consecutive posts in consecutive seconds through Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, and will be wishing they did the same in their own end.

Palace went ahead of a wild goal mouth scramble that finished with Abdoulaye Doucoure smashing the ball off Craig Cathcart and into his own goal.

The Eagles could’ve gone ahead 2-0 when Luka Milivojevic‘s shot through traffic was blocked by the hand of a Watford man and was caught by Ben Foster, but no call arrived at Selhurst Park.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Cathcart will have been pleased to reverse his o.g., even if he knew little about the first. This one had plenty of intent, a header over Wayne Hennessey with a little more than 20 minutes to play.

If you had Cleverley as your match-winner, well, that was an odd wager. He scored his second goal in the last two and a half seasons, the substitute potting a loose ball.

Palace fought hard for an equalizer, but Watford kept its spacing and managed a number of interventions in its own box.

Deeney on wild draw: ‘Sunday League’ defending, poor officiating

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Troy Deeney spoke frankly after Watford’s intense 3-3 draw with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 3-3 Watford ]

“The defending from both teams was Sunday League at best to be honest,” Deeney said after scoring twice in the first half, which included all six goals.

Five of those came in 13 minutes.

“I didn’t feel we were fully in control,” he said. “It was an end-to-end game. It could have been 6-6.”

And Deeney had some more stiff words about the officials in a match where he admitted one of his teammates could’ve been sent off.

“Abdoulaye Doucoure probably did get lucky [to not be sent-off]. But you can’t tell me that their boy did not try to do Tom Cleverley. They know it. We know but the referee bottled it on a few occasions today.”

The fine is a-comin’ for that, but it underscores one of the storylines in a thriller; What a match by the Hornets and Cherries!

PL Preview: Fulham vs. Watford

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  • Fulham has conceded at least 2 goals in its last 9 PL games
  • Watford has lost 8 straight PL matches in London
  • Fulham will become the 15th English team to reach 500 PL games

One team still sorting out the kinks, one team is off to a blistering start.

Fulham hopes to shore things up as the Whites host fourth-placed Watford at Craven Cottage Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. The hosts have been porous defensively, with 12 goals allowed through the first five matches of the season, the most in the Premier League.

[ WATCH LIVE: Fulham vs. Watford live on NBCSports.com ]

Still, manager Slavisa Jokanovic has rebuffed calls to set the tactics up more defensively, instead calling on his team to be “more brave” as the season rolls on, pushing forward with the “offense is the best defense” mindset. Jokanovic, who coached Watford to promotion in 2015 but left before Premier League play after failing to agree to a new deal, has been praised for his steadfastness in his tactical style but also criticized for the early results.

Watford took time to find true stability in the Premier League without Jokanovic, finishing one place above relegation last season, but under Javi Gracia the Hornets have sprung to life over the past few weeks. Gracia is the one with stability now, having named the exact same starting lineup for every Premier League game so far, and Watford could become only the fifth English club ever to name the same starting lineup for the first six games of a Premier League season. Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley are both long-term absentees, while Nathaniel Chalobah is the only real question mark as he recovers from a serious knee injury, and he is likely to return to the squad, Gracia said.

The Fulham squad, on the other hand, is a mess. Captain Tom Cairney is out with an ankle injury, a massive miss for a team that focuses on possession and build-up. American defender Tim Ream is also out with a knee problem, back in training finally but still yet to debut this season after winning the club’s Player of the Season award last year. Without Ream, Jokanovic has struggled to find his best defensive partnership, with Denis Odoi plus new signings Calum Chambers, Maxim Le Marchand, and Alfie Mawson all showing weaknesses. The Whites are also without winger Neeskens Kebano who suffered an ankle injury in a Cup match against Exeter City in late August.

What they’re saying

Fulham manager Jokanovic on his team’s attacking mentality: “People are asking if we can be a little more pragmatic but, for me, being pragmatic is being brave. The brave choice for me is the best way to win the game. I think we are still not brave enough. Why would we be scared, why are we not braver and trusting in ourselves?”

Watford manager Gracia on bouncing back from first loss: “They do not need good results to know the performances have been good and, in this moment, the players are confident they will be able to keep their performance levels up. We will try to keep our style of play, maintain our mentality and be aggressive.”

Prediction

Watford started the season with a bang, but have not kept a clean sheet since the second match of the year. That could pose problems facing a team that loves to push forward, and there should be goals in this match. It will likely end in a 2-2 draw.