Ismaila Sarr’s impact since Nigel Pearson’s arrival

Abhishek Kumar
By Abhishek Kumar
4 Min Read

Ismaila Sarr spent his young days at Senegalese club Generation Foot and joined Metz in 2016. He impressed several clubs during his tenure at Metz and Stade Rennais came calling next season. He signed a five-year contract with Rennes.

During Sarr’s tenure at Rennes, he impressed in the Ligue 1 and helped his side qualify for the Europa League knockout stages by scoring a brace against FC Astana. His exploits last season made him among the most talented forwards in the French League. Watford signed him in August last season for a club-record transfer fee.


Watford have seen four different managers this season – Javi Gracia (sacked), Quique Sanchez Flores (sacked), Hayden Mullins (caretaker) and Nigel Pearson (current manager). Sarr has played under all managers and wasn’t able to settle down with different managers. However, since Nigel Pearson’s arrival, Watford have come out of the relegation zone and Sarr has got his mojo back. The Hornets are still facing relegation threat but they are in a much better situation now.

Under Pearson, the Hornets are more dangerous in attack than Sanchez Flores and defensively better than they were under Javi Gracia. The most important component of Pearson’s tactics is Ismaila Sarr.

Ismaila Sarr made it to the headlines after scoring a brace in Watford’s win over title-winners Liverpool. Everyone was talking about Senegalese winger Sadio Mane to exploit Watford’s defence but his compatriot Sarr turned out as the better Senegalese from the game.


Ismaila Sarr is a sharp forward and possesses an electric pace that theatens opponents’ defenders down the right flank. He tends to keep his cool when closing down on goal and has eight goal contributions, most of them coming under Pearson. Let’s not ignore that fact that he has started just 13 Premier League games. If we look at his goals against Liverpolol, Southamptoin and Aston Villa, all have came through counters with Sarr running down the wing with blistering speed.

Sarr has ran riot against teams that play with defenders high up on the pitch. Sarr showcased his ability to manipulate the high lines deployed by Klopp, Hassenhuttl and Dyche. Sarr played high up on the pitch and utilised opponents’ pressingby exploiting their defence. This can be crucial for Watford’s run for survival this season.


Sarr’s goal contributions have contributed to six points after Pearson’s arrival. Additionally, the Hornets have gathered 18 points in the 11 games he has started under Pearson. He terrorised Matt Targett, Japhet Tanganga, Andy Robertson among others with his blistering pace.

Watford Stats With Sarr under Pearson Without Sarr under Pearson
Wins 50
Losses3 3
Goals Per Game1.41.0

Stats as on June 27, 2020

Pearson deploys several variations of 4-5-1 formation, with 4-2-3-1 being the most preferred one. This formation remains the same during the attack and on counters. Deeney leads the attacks with Ismaila Sarr on the right wing. While defending, this formation quickly turns into a 4-4-2 formation with Doucoure joining Deeney upfront and Sarr playing the wide-midfield role.

Flores used Sarr alongside Deulofeu in the two forward lineup and under Gracia he rarely played as he couldn’t fit into the Spaniard’s formation. Pearson used him on the wings and boom! Sarr has now settled in well. Everyone knew that Sarr is a raw talent and he needs to be polished. But now it looks like he has adapted to the Premier League and is the best attacking option for the Hornets.

WATCH: Ismaila Sarr destroying everyone!

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