Watford remain bottom and without a win in the Premier League this season after a turgid 0-0 draw with Sheffield United at Vicarage Road.
Despite having just 39 per cent of the ball and registering just two shots on target, Watford created the big opportunities in the match but Andre Gray, Danny Welbeck and Craig Dawson were denied as Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson redeemed himself after last weekend's error against Liverpool.
The one positive Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores will take will be his team keep a clean sheet for the first time in 19 games but, with a little more care in the final third, Sheffield United could have left with all three points from a game they bossed for large parts. For Chris Wilder's Blades, it leaves them unbeaten on the road this season.
Watford: Foster (6), Janmaat (6), Prodl (6), Cathcart (6), Holebas (6), Pereyra (6), Doucoure (6), Cleverley (6), Kabasele (6), Gray (4), Welbeck (6)
Subs: Dawson (6), Deulofeu (6), Sarr (N/A)
Sheffield United: Henderson (8), Basham (7), Egan (7), O’Connell (7), Baldock (7), Lundstram (6), Norwood (7), Fleck (7), Stevens (7), McBurnie (5), Robinson (5)
Subs: Sharp (6), Mousset (6)
Man of the match: Dean Henderson
How Watford's slump continued…
Fresh from an impressive performance against Liverpool, Sheffield United began with a confidence that was severely lacking in the home team, who set up to soak up pressure and hit on the counter.
Quique Sanchez Flores made four changes with Sebastian Prodl, Roberto Pereyra, Christian Kabasele and Andre Gray handed starts in a 5-3-2 system. Chris Wilder kept the same XI that lost 1-0 to Liverpool.
It was a tactic that should have seen the hosts open the scoring on 10 minutes. Roberto Pereyra took advantage of a lackadaisical moment from Chris Basham down the right before putting a chance on a plate for Gray, but the striker somehow spooned over the bar from six yards out.
Watford 'keeper Ben Foster had to be on his toes minutes later to divert a Craig Cathcart effort that was heading into his own goal as the Blades dominated the territory but lacked the required creative tools to force a clear-cut opening.
There was little in the way of action for both goalkeepers to deal with for large parts, but Henderson showed great concentration levels to keep his team level just after the break. Welbeck scampered through one-on-one but never looked confident up against the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper, who came out on top with a brave, blocked save.
The Hornets continued to defend deep with an eye on hitting on the counter-attack with Sanchez Flores even taking off Welbeck to further shore up their defence which was not seriously tested by Wilder's side once they approached the final third.
With the game petering out, Watford almost nicked it at the death. United's defensive line was breached by a deep deflected free-kick from Gerard Deulofeu but Dawson could not find a way past Henderson who palmed his headed effort away from danger.
It was a day not for the purists but one where defences ruled.
Man of the match: Dean Henderson
Handing the outstanding award to the opposition goalkeeper usually suggests the home team were unlucky not to get maximum points - this was not the case. However, Henderson produced two big saves at crucial periods.
Firstly, staying big when Welbeck breezed through on goal and then palming away Dawson's header late on to make sure his team left with a point. After last week's error against Liverpool and a public bashing from his manager, this was the perfect response from the talented stopper. "He's come roaring back today," said Wilder.
- Watford are winless in their eight Premier League games this season (D3 L5), their longest run without a victory from the start of a campaign in any division since 2006-07 (10 in the Premier League).
- Sheffield United have kept 24 clean sheets in the league since the start of last season; no side have recorded more shutouts in this time in the top four tiers (excluding play-offs).
- Watford missed all three of their big chances against Sheffield United; in fact, no Premier League side have a worse big chance conversion rate than the Hornets this season (21% - 3/14).
What the managers said
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores said: "We tried to play in a normal way. The first half we had problems as we defended deep but defended well from crosses. We weren't happy with the first half. I don't calculate possession - against Arsenal we took the ball a lot but we didn't have much today. It's something to build on. It's a good base. By not conceding goals we can build confidence. To have security is the way to build confidence."
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder said: "I'm pleased with the performance, disappointed with the result. They played on the counter-attack but we controlled the game. We're just looking for that last little bit in the final third to turn draws into wins. It was tough to break them down with them playing five at the back - they'll be pleased with their clean sheet. Our ambition was great - I loved how we played, it was just the final third that frustrated us all. Our record on the road is very good - it shows how far the players have come as they're disappointed they've not won."
Watford are next in action after the international break with a visit to Tottenham while Sheffield United are in front of the Monday Night Football cameras in two weeks' time for their next fixture when they host Arsenal at Bramall Lane.