Watford’s Gerard Deulofeu deepened Cardiff’s relegation worries last Friday night with a sumptuous hat–trick to aid his team in sweeping aside the Bluebirds 5-1. The Spaniard’s winning contributions earn him the spotlight in Maryam Naz’s Premier League Player of the Week.
1) The Magician at his best
Deulofeu weaved his way through the Cardiff defence as if he was playing in front of the Camp Nou faithful once again. Indeed, Sol Bamba and Co were so mesmerised by his fluid dribbling they were unable to prevent the former Barcelona prodigy from scoring twice in the space of three minutes in the second half.
Yet while Deulofeu was able to make the most of a poor free-kick from Joe Bennett for his second goal, the one that sealed his hat-trick was a thing of beauty – an exquisite dink that left keeper Neil Etheridge stunned.
2) Selfless passing
Not only did Deulofeu strike three past Etheridge but he also bagged a stunning assist for captain Troy Deeney. The Spaniard was repeatedly able to get in behind the Cardiff defence throughout the game, yet it was in the 73rd minute that he turned into the provider.
Running through on goal, the 24-year-old had the opportunity to add to his personal tally, yet instead set up Deeney, who hammered home the Hornets’ fourth goal. Watford boss Javi Gracia himself mentioned Deulofeu’s selflessness in the final third stating that he was “very generous” to allow his captain in on the goalscoring riot.
Above all, Deulofeu’s spatial awareness to pick out players in better positions exposes an analytical style of processing the great game – a mindset needed if his team are to secure Europa League qualification.
3) Versatility is key
Mainly a forward, Deulofeu has showcased his ability to seamlessly play on both flanks. Against Neil Warnock’s men, he was able to be a fluid part of Watford’s attack alongside Deeney and Roberto Pereyra.
While Pereyra provided the darting runs, and Deeney a physical presence in the box, the 24-year-old was able to pull the strings from all over the park. Given that we are already aware of his ability to play as a striker, by proving his services on both flanks, Gracia’s men might have found the winning combination that could lead them to claim the last of the Europa League places.
4) Honorary mentions
While Deulofeu may have stolen all the plaudits last weekend, another player whose performance warrants a mention is Wilfried Zaha. The 26-year-old’s brace against Leicester was the final nail in the coffin for boss Claude Puel, who was axed after the Crystal Palace forward helped to defeat the Foxes 4-1.
Follow Maryam on Twitter at @mnaz98