The talking points from Preston's 4-1 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road

The return of Ben Davies was a positive for PNEThe return of Ben Davies was a positive for PNE
The return of Ben Davies was a positive for PNE
Preston North End were beaten for the second time in a week on Saturday, losing 4-1 to Watford.

Tom Barkhuizen scored the goal for North End but goals from Domingos Quina, Troy Deeney, Nathaniel Chalobah and Joao Pedro eclipsed the deflected effort.

TOM SANDELLS looks at four talking points from the defeat.

1. Watford are a top side.

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out the quality that the Hornets possess.

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In their starting lineup they boasted millions of pounds worth of talent, with Andre Gray helping fire Burnley into the Premier League before securing an £18m move to the Hornets.

Ismaila Sarr was heavily linked with a £40m move to English champions Liverpool in the summer.

Most of their supporting contingent are also experience in the top flight.

That isn’t to say their invincible but you have to acknowledge when you come up against quality opposition.

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Giving the opportunities they were by some clack defending, it’s easy for them to take control of the contest.

Couple that with the best home league start to a campaign in 12 years and it’s a tough task.

2. Two Bens back in town.

One of few positives from the game was the return of both Ben Davies and Ben Pearson.

Undoubtedly the two star players in this PNE squad, they showed their quality on their return.

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It is no consolation to a thumping defeat but looking ahead, it gives Preston more chance of winning future games.

Both settled into the game well and had good games, signs that Alex Neil can build from as he looks to arrest the slide.

3. Fine margins.

The game involved two penalty shouts,one given, one not.

The first game for Watford as Sarr tumbled under a challenge from Jordan Storey.

There looked to be minimal if any contact on the Senegalese forward.

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Had that not been given, the game at that point remains at 1-0 and Tom Barkhuizen’s strike is an equaliser.

Couple it with Emil Riis’ powerful run forward seemingly ended by a trip between two defenders in the box and it’s a much different story.

That came after Chalobah’s goal, but again, it would have had the game level without the other penalty given.

It’s easy to dismiss what-ifs but there was plenty of frustration at both decisions and there’s no denying they massively effected the game.

4. ‘Stale’.

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The word most used to describe the current state of affairs in PR1 amongst fans in the wake of the defeat is ‘stale’.

That is, that there have been few signings to rejuvenate a squad that has been pushing hard for so long as well as a number of key players winding down their deals.

It is an understandable stance to take.

There are also further calls for the end of Alex Neil’s reign but the first point doesn’t really support the second.

If things are stale due to a lack of backing to inject life and show support to the footballing staff, does that not go some way to explaining a lack of results?

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Each loss increases the cries for the Scot’s head, equally too the cries for a systematic change at a higher level.

Key players having little time left on their contracts raises further questions, with some fans questioning their commitment - a harsh thing to do for any player in my opinion.

Should Messrs. Davies, Pearson, Johnson and Browne all sign new deals in quick succession, does that provide the life needed?

Or does it require new faces, which are much harder to come by in a Covid effected world, and even harder when you sign four new deals to your star players?

Either way, off the back of another lacklustre performance the disquiet is growing and only better displays can help fix that.