Ismaila Sarr

Burnley - Watford recap
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Rodriguez goal lifts Burnley over Watford

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Burnley is back within a win of eighth place, which could be a Europa League place, after beating desperate Watford 1-0 at Turf Moor on Thursday.

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Dwight McNeil set up Jay Rodriguez for a second-half goal as the undermanned Clarets took all three points from the visitors, who were lively early.

Watford’s 28 points are just above the drop zone. The Hornets sit 16th, one point ahead of three teams.


Three things we learned

1. Clarets can’t make early chances count: Jay Rodriguez and Matty Vydra were each granted early chances by sleepy or foolish Watford errors in what were considered by SofaScore the only two “big chances created” in the first hour-plus. Both teams took five shots inside the box in the opening 70 minutes, both keepers made two saves.

2. Bad Burnley half buoyed by J-Rod: Dwight McNeil has been the Clarets’ shiny academy jewel for some time, and his cross to the top of the six for Rodriguez to turn past Ben Foster was sensational. The Clarets were miserable for most of the second half to that point.

3. Will Watford rebound? The Hornets were the better team in terms of threat aside from the goal, despite what the even statistics said. Watford has a lot of points on their remaining fixture list, but this zero should’ve been three. Southampton, Chelsea, Newcastle, and Norwich City are next before West Ham, Man City, and Arsenal to close it out.

Man of the Match

McNeil was very good. He completed 37-of-46 passes and connected on three crosses and long balls, one being the assist.

Burnley – Watford recap

Watford had some moments early but Burnley had a goal ruled offside in the 14th minute when Jay Rodriguez headed home.

The Clarets kept pouring forward, and Matej Vydra hit the pitch with an audacious shot before Michael Dawson cleared Rodriguez’s side volley rebound off the line.

Ismaila Sarr was a problem for Burnley’s left side, and Dwight McNeil and Charlie Taylor had to push and tug to keep him from delivering the ball inside. They failed once but Danny Welbeck couldn’t react quick enough to capitalize.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The Hornets were all over Burnley in the second half.

Troy Deeney headed a corner that was blocked off the line before Will Hughes blazed the rebound over the bar from about 20 yards.

That’s when Burnley scored out of nothing, Rodriguez’s clever header fooling Ben Foster off McNeil’s terrific cross.

Ranking every Watford player

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Watford’s roller coaster season was suspended just above the drop zone, as there’s been plenty of fun for the Hornets after an 11-match winless run to start the Premier League campaign.

The Hornets — for now — look to have saved their season with an inexplicably strong navigation of the congested festive fixtures, and they’ll continue to relish ending Liverpool’s run at a perfect season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Individual grades, however? Those are a bit tougher.

Below we give each Hornets player a grade, ranking and group them together based on their season(s) so far.

If a Watford player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.


Etienne Capoue: The Hornets leader in tackles and interceptions doesn’t get the acclaim of Abdoulaye Doucoure, but this year he’s been better for the side. Come to think of it, last year, too.

Gerard Deulofeu: His torn ACL in the big upset of Liverpool. Snapped to life under Nigel Pearson to propel Watford out of the bottom three.

Troy Deeney: The club legend has taken a beating in producing six goals and two assists in 18 appearances. Deeney’s 7.6 aerials won per match is second only to Sebastien Haller.


Ismaila Sarr: There’s still work to do in adjusting to the Premier League, but just ask Liverpool how he can change a game (or season).

Christian Kabasele: The big center back remains with the Vicarage Road set, which is a serious boon to the Hornets. His 5.2 clearances per game join 1.6 tackles and 1.7 interceptions to make another fine line on the resume.

Abdoulaye Doucoure: At his best, he makes the Hornets a force in the middle of the park but this season was a step back in attacking production.

Daryl Janmaat
Ben Foster
Adam Masina

Ismaila Sarr celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s first goal against Manchester United (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)


Craig Cathcart: A steady if unspectacular season doing a little bit of everything at the back. Call it a C-plus.

Will Hughes: After two-straight seasons of improvement, Hughes slipped a little bit. The versatile midfielder also missed out on two of Watford’s five wins.

Nathaniel Chalobah
Tom Cleverley
Craig Dawson
Kiko Femenia


Andre Gray: Was having the least productive season of his career, with two goals in 716 minutes.

Roberto Pereyra: Still capable of the sublime, but he’s done it so rarely this season. Also saw his minutes sliced nearly in half.

Danny Welbeck
Adrian Mariappa
Jose Holebas

(Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)


Isaac Success, Domingos Quina, Ignacio Pussetto, Sebastian Prodl, Dimitru Foulquier

Watford’s Sarr’s ‘unbelievable talent’ dooms Liverpool’s historic run

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Who would have guessed that Liverpool’s emphatic unbeaten run of 423 days – the second longest ever top-division unbeaten run – would end on a cold, soggy night at Vicarage Road to the dominance of 22-year-old Ismaila Sarr?

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Liverpool remain indisputable favorites to lift the league title, but they will fall short to Arsenal’s Invincibles. Jurgen Klopp‘s men were vulnerable on Saturday. The potent performance put together by Watford will be talked about for years to come. And perhaps no other player on the field came as close to the protagonist role as Sarr.

The winger stood out from the rest, scoring twice before setting up captain Troy Deeney for the third and final goal of the bout. To the BBC:

“Ismaila Sarr is an unbelievable player, unbelievable talent,” Deeney said about his teammate. “He still has a lot to learn, and will continue to learn. But I think it’s a full team performance and a special mention has to go to Gerard Deulofeu as well, it looks like it’s going to be a bad one.”

Sarr, who turned down Barcelona during his career’s infant years, exhibited exactly why that was an option to begin with. The Senegalese was the cog of a well-oiled engined that took care of its chances. There’s no way around it.

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“First of all credit to Watford,” Liverpool’s captain Virgil Van Dijk said following the Reds’ first loss in 45 Premier League matches. “They deserved it. The chances they created they stuck to their plan and I don’t think we created too many big opportunities. We shouldn’t take the credit away from Watford.
“If you concede three goals, that’s something we didn’t have for quite a while. That’s something we have to improve as a team in total and we will. It’s very tough to take this one. The only positive thing is we have an FA Cup game in a couple of days.
“The last game, one set piece, one good goal. Today obviously it should be better. If you look at the whole season we’ve been pretty good defensively. We have the most clean sheets in the league.”
For Nigel Pearson, the win comes at a precious time. The Hornets were on the outside looking in, with a seven-match winless streak behind them heading into Saturday.
In theory, three points in such fashion at home against this Liverpool should taste like silverware to a club flirting with mediocrity like Watford has all season long. In practice, it’s just another vital win for Watford.
“It’s such an important win for us,” he said. “But it is one win. Our season has been tough so far, with losing last week and not playing well, we were keen to get a response.

“They are such an outstanding side, we had to get our performance right – as close to max as possible – and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win. We threatened with the ball and defended with discipline, energy and commitment. That’s been the message from day one.

“It’s in our own hands, and we have to deliver that performance week in, week out.”

And a stellar 90-minute performance from Sarr that will go down in the books for obvious reasons.

WATCH: Sarr scores twice to put Liverpool’s historic run in jeopardy

Ismaila Sarr
Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
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Who would’ve penciled Watford in to the spoiler’s seat?

The relegation-threatened Hornets built a 2-0 lead on the unbeaten Premier League leaders with two Ismaila Sarr goals inside of seven second-half minutes.

[ STREAM: Watford v. Liverpool ]

Both found all-world defender Virgil Van Dijk out to lunch, an uncharacteristic break from his outstanding nature.

Moments after Liverpool failed to capitalize on a mess in the Watford box, the Hornets took the lead.

Sarr darted in front of Andy Robertson after Abdoulaye Doucoure got the better of a sleepy Virgil van Dijk.

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It would only stay 1-0 for about a half-dozen more minutes.

Troy Deeney saved a ball from going out of bounds and it squirted past a sleepy Van Dijk.

Sarr was quick to recognize the opportunity and chipped the ball over an unrushing Alisson Becker for 2-0.

Watford soars past miserable Bournemouth

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Abdoulaye Doucoure had a goal and an assist as Watford leapt out of the drop zone with a 2-0 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.

Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra also scored and Ismaila Sarr was a constant threat for the Hornets.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford has four wins inside of a five-match unbeaten run under Nigel Pearson and moves 17th with 22 points.

That’s two points better than the Cherries, who sit 19th with 20 points.

Three things we learned

1. Sarr shows what got him to Watford: Senegalese youngster Sarr has experienced in an uneven start to life in the Premier League, but there have been plenty of positives. Last season saw Sarr become a double-digit goal and assist man at Stade Rennais, earning a splashy move to the Hornets.

Sarr’s steal and terrific assist put Watford up 1-0, and he did the lion’s share of the lifting on the second. He entered the day with four goals and two assists in around 1000 minutes for Watford. At his best, Sarr is making himself a huge threat on the other side of Gerard Deulofeu (even if he looks dejected to come off in the 83rd minute).

2. Ice cold Wilson, snake bit Fraser killing Cherries: Callum Wilson had another rough outing to stretch a brutal run into mid-January. He finished a run of five goals in four Premier League matches on Sept. 28. His only goal or assist since that run came against Luton Town in the FA Cup last week. He had 15 and 10 last season.

Ryan Fraser is also struggling, though the effort and craft remain on display sans end product. Fraser was one of the few Cherries to show up on Sunday but has a goal and just three assists this season and nothing since Nov. 23. Last season? Eight and 15.

3. Deputy Travers gets no help : A minor injury suffered by 21-year-old Aaron Ramsdale led to an even younger starting goalkeeper for Bournemouth. Irish backstop Mark Travers got the call, his first PL match of the season after starting in all three of the Cherries’ cup outings. He kept a clean sheet against Spurs in his PL debut last season but then conceded five times in the season finale. It was more of the latter than the former in his two-save Sunday, as Travers gave the ball away a few touches before Watford’s opener.

Man of the Match: Doucoure, Sarr, Deeney, and Etienne Capoue were the standouts for Watford, and Doucoure was ready to go from Moment No. 1 to get our nod.

Ismaila Sarr raced down the right wing off a Bournemouth giveaway, but his touch put him out wide and his ball toward the back post was wide and absent receiver.

At the other end, a long Harry Wilson drive took two turns before Ben Foster recovered it to stifle the threat.

In-form Gerard Deulofeu forced a fine save out of young goalkeeper Mark Travers, who saw the ensuing corner nodded wide of the frame.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Bournemouth had plenty of the play, but Watford went ahead through a Travers giveaway quickly turned into a goal by Sarr and Doucoure.

The game lifted a bit for the Cherries upon the introduction of Philip Billing and Lewis Cook, but Deeney shut it down with an arrow into the back of the net following incredible work from Sarr.

Deulofeu led a break that ended with a Travers save of a Deeney bounded shot.

The Hornets put it to bed when Andre Gray saw his shot cleared off the line and Pereyra settled the rebound and slotted home.