Troost-Ekong needs to step up for Watford

The Nigerian centre-back is experiencing life in the English top-flight for the first time in his career.

William Troost-Ekong (Instagram/William Troost-Ekong)

Watford are back in the Premier League just a year after suffering the agony of relegation.

Solid they were in the Championship, finishing a strong second and sealed automatic promotion. One of the men that contributed to such fine form was William Troost-Ekong.

The Nigeria international was signed from affiliated side Udinese and though there were concerns in some quarters why he’d leave a top league to a second tier side, it proved to be the right choice.

Premier League football is the ultimate experience for most footballers and compared to the strong Championship start where Watford kept four clean sheets in Troost-Ekong’s first 10 games, including his debut at Derby County, its a different reality in the top tier.

And opening 3–2 victory at home to Aston Villa was followed by a 2–0 defeat at Brighton and Hove last weekend.

It might just be two games in, but this doesn’t put Watford in a good position with their solidity at the back expected to be better. Troost-Ekong has played alongside Christian Kabasele in these games, but both men should be doing much better.

In the Brighton game, Troost-Ekong made a wayward back pass which was intercepted by Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma and finished off by Neal Maupay for a 2–0 lead four minutes to the halftime break.

This irked former Nigeria player Efan Ekoku who was not impressed with Troost-Ekong.

“Just can’t do this against players of the quality of Yves Bissouma. Talked about the timing of the challenges,” Ekoku said.

“Look at the speed at which he recovered the ball away from Tom Cleverley. Horrible pass from Troost-Ekong and that is a smart finish from Neal Maupay, gives the goalkeeper the eyes.

“It is not an easy finish, most of the credit has got to go to Bissouma.”

Watford made amends by seeing off Crystal Palace 1–0 in the second round of the EFL Cup, Troost-Ekong playing the entire 90 minutes. However, the earlier error by Troost-Ekong should not be happening. The Premier League isn’t the most forgiving of places as the slightest error could be detrimental to season objectives.

Watford in this case need to beat drop, hence their defence must do much better to realise it.

The Hornets take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. It will be a reunion for Troost-Ekong who played for the North London club during his youth. He will also be playing against Harry Kane whom he played alongside at the Spurs academy.

The Englishman has grown to be one of the most prolific forwards in the world so Troost-Ekong has a lot on his sleeves in trying to deal with Kane’s threat and Spurs as a whole.

Tottenham aren’t the preferred opponents Watford would want to face after the Brighton loss, but they have to brace up for it.

Troost-Ekong must put in a good display especially as he travels next on international duty with Nigeria for the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Liberia in Lagos.

Should the 27-year-old struggle again, it will only raise further questions on whether he is fit for the Premier League and such could have an impact on his market value and where his next career destination might be.

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Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

Follow him on Twitter: @kfayiga

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