Watford got their 2022-23 EFL Championship campaign off to a winning start at the Vicarage Road on 1st August as they beat Sheffield United 1-0. The Brazilian attacker, Joao Pedro, scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute to give the Hornets all three points for the victory.
Watford opted for the 3-4-2-1 formation, with Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis supporting Joao Pedro up top. The back three consisted of Christian Kabasele, Francisco Sierralta and Craig Cathcart. Sheffield United, on the other hand, opted for the 4-4-2 formation with a midfield quartet of Sander Berge, Oliver Norwood, John Fleck and Enda Stevens.
Watford had the higher ball possession at 55%. Their xG was also thrice that of Sheffield United by the end of the game (0.82 to 0.27). The Hornets’ pass accuracy was 80.7% compared to 75.22% for the Blades.
Watford maintained the 3-4-2-1 formation in the entire match. In the last 10 minutes, Rey Manaj and Dan Gosling replaced Ismaila Sarr and goalscorer Joao Pedro, respectively.
Sheffield United also stuck to the 4-4-2 formation they elected to start with. Reda Khadra and Rhian Brewster came on as substitutes for Iliman Ndiaye and Daniel Jebbison, respectively, in the last 20 minutes of the match.
Watford’s only goal of the game came through a counterattack when Joao Pedro slotted the ball through the middle. This generated an xG of 0.37. The Hornets attempted nine shots and hit four of them on target, giving them a 44.44% shot accuracy.
Sheffield United tried six shots and had a 50% accuracy. But the Blades could not find a way past the Watford keeper. The shot with the highest xG was only 0.07, which came through Jebbison in the 45th minute.
Watford attacked from the wings, but they were more threatening through the left flank as shown by the 0.34 xG, compared to just 0.03 on the right.
By contrast, Sheffield United’s most threatening attacks came through the middle. Yet, it was not even remotely close to the xG generated by the hosts.
Watford attempted 230 duels and won 121 of them. Most of these victorious duels came in midfield with roughly equal proportions in the defensive and attacking thirds.
Sheffield United won 100 out of the 230 duels they contested in this match. Roughly 80% of these came on the flanks. Enda Stevens had the highest duel success rate of any Blades man, with 14 out of 20 duels being successful for the Irishman.
Nearly half of the 82 recoveries made by Watford came in the defensive third with another 40% coming in the midfield. Kabasele recovered 17 balls, followed by Cathcart, who had 12 to his name.
Sheffield United made 75 recoveries in this match. 94% of these came in the defensive third and in the midfield, split equally. Egan and Baldock completed 24 recoveries between them for the Blades.
Watford will hope to build on the victory achieved against Sheffield United when they visit West Brom on 8th August. Meanwhile, Sheffield United will look to bounce back from the defeat when they welcome Millwall to Bramall Lane on 6th August.
Visuals by Wyscout