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Quique Sanchez Flores warns Watford players to maintain their performance levels

Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores was warned his players they cannot afford to relax if they are to maintain their fine start to life back in the Barclays Premier League.

The Hornets climbed to seventh place in the table as a result of their seventh victory of the campaign, a 1-0 win at struggling Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.

However, Flores insists the initial target of securing the club's top-flight status remains their only focus, and that means adding to their current tally of 25 points as quickly as possible.

He said: "That's the most important thing. We don't want to hear about 'relax'. I like the players to enjoy their day off and everything, but for us the most important thing is after two days to focus again, work hard every week and prepare for the next opponent.

"We are really pleased with performance of the players. We are completely focussed on the target and the level of confidence is very high. They are always thinking about how we can improve.

"My expectation before every single match is very high, but always the players come and to improve always."

Victory was secured within four minutes of kick-off at the Stadium of Light as the visitors took advantage of a dreadful start by their hosts.

Striker Odion Ighalo and defender Sebastian Coates both appeared to get a touch to Allan Nyom's cross with Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce at least attributing the goal to his man.

The Black Cats launched a fightback after an early reshuffle with substitute Jermain Defoe seeing one effort ruled out for offside, another saved by keeper Heurelho Gomes and a third drop agonisingly wide, although Ighalo went through on goal three times in the final few minutes, but failed to find a finish on each occasion.

Flores said: "Our start in the first 25 minutes was really, really good, good possession and good attempts and after that, we lost different balls, we started playing in the middle passing just through the centre to the strikers.

"We opened the possibilities up to Sunderland and after that, it was difficult to get the result until the last moment."

Allardyce was left to bemoan an awful start by his relegation-threatened team, who face Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in their next three fixtures, and the lack of a killer touch in front of goal, which ultimately cost them dearly.

He said: "When I opened my big mouth two weeks ago and said, 'I think I have got enough goals', I think I should have kept it shut.

"We didn't play very well in the first half. We had to change the system after 20 minutes or so because it wasn't working because players weren't playing to their best anyway.

"I had to load the midfield up a little bit more in the hope that we'd get better in possession and press the opposition a bit more.

"The second half was a different story based on we got to where we wanted to be by creating the chances we created, but sadly didn't capitalise on those chances by equalising and then trying to go on to win it.

"Because of that, we are all now left extremely disappointed and more importantly for me, it's left us a big gap to start catching up on again, where we could have made that gap so much smaller today had we got three points."

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