Match ends, Watford 1, Stoke City 2.
Watford 1-2 Stoke City
Stoke secured a comfortable win at Watford thanks to goals from Jon Walters and Joselu.
After a bright start from the hosts, Mark Hughes' side dominated possession and Walters turned home Phil Bardsley's right-wing cross.
After Marko Arnautovic's goal was ruled out for offside, Joselu lobbed Heurelho Gomes after his poor clearance.
The Hornets struggled to create chances throughout but Troy Deeney scored a close-range header late on.
The victory moves Stoke up up seventh above Liverpool and Southampton, while Watford remain 14th on 37 points.
Much has been made of the change of style in Stoke's play since Mark Hughes took charge and nowhere was that more evident than with the opening goal.
Walters rounded off a superb 13-pass move at the back post in which eight different players touched the ball, which was worked from the edge of their own area.
Walters was a constant threat along with overlapping right-back Bardsley, with Ibrahim Afellay also tending to drift over to the right side in his free role as the Potters focused their attacks down that flank.
Without both Xherdan Shaqiri and Bojan Krkic, Hughes' men continued to impress and have now won four of their last six games to move within five points of the top four places.
"I spoke to Jonathan earlier in the week and told him he was playing," said Stoke boss Hughes.
"You could tell from the start that he was focused and ready to make an impact - he's not been playing for the last few weeks but he came in to good effect."
Despite securing a place in the FA Cup semi-finals last week by winning at Arsenal, Watford will be concerned at their league form so far in 2016.
The Hornets have lost their last three Premier League games and have only two wins from their last 13 matches.
Sitting on 37 points, 12 above the relegation places, their future looks pretty secure for next season, but they will not want their campaign to peter out with the prospect of a semi-final at Wembley on the horizon.
Problems stem from the reliance on the pairing of Deeney and strike partner Odion Ighalo for goals.
Captain Deeney's header was his ninth in the league this season, while Nigerian top scorer Ighalo has 14 - after that, Watford have five players who have scored one league goal. So if the Hornets' main men do not score, they tend not to.
Man of the match - Jon Walters (Stoke)
What the managers said
Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "It got a little bit frenetic at the end and not the control we had for the most part, but in the end we got the job done. It was a great finish from Joselu as he hasn't had too many opportunities.
"We're just going to see how far we can go. We've got to take games to the opposition like we did today and be confident in our own ability - I sometimes think we don't know how good we are in full flow.
"We're not comfortable with the status quo and we want to keep on driving."
Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores: "I think they had more intensity energy, velocity and focus on the match than our team did. We didn't play like a team in the first half, so we have problems.
"We didn't create a lot of chances, but maybe in the last 20 minutes when we played a bit better. We're not happy with the match, we started slow and didn't play how our team usually plays.
"We are not worried about the future of the team in the Premier League but we want to achieve 40 points as soon as possible."
The stats you need to know
- Phil Bardsley's assist was his first in the Premier League since March 2015 and only his fourth ever.
- Watford have kept only two clean sheets in their last 13 Premier League games.
- Jonathan Walters scored and provided an assist in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2014 and for the fifth time overall.
- After failing to score in each of their last six league matches against Watford, the Potters netted two on Saturday.
- Troy Deeney scored in a Premier League game for only the second time in his last 12 top-flight appearances.
Both teams have a two-week break because of the international games. Watford will return to Emirates Stadium three weeks after knocking out Arsenal out of the FA Cup, while Stoke will look to continue their push for Europe when they host Swansea.
- 2NyomBooked at 45mins
- 16AkéSubstituted forAnyaat 76'minutes
- 7JuradoSubstituted forN Amrabatat 55'minutes
- 8BehramiSubstituted forGuédiouraat 55'minutesBooked at 83mins
- 29CapoueBooked at 41mins
- 11N Amrabat
- 19WaltersBooked at 76mins
- 14AfellaySubstituted forDioufat 84'minutes
- 10ArnautovicSubstituted forIrelandat 84'minutes
- Craig Pawson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Watford 1, Stoke City 2.
Offside, Watford. Craig Cathcart tries a through ball, but Odion Ighalo is caught offside.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Geoff Cameron.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Ikechi Anya.
Goal! Watford 1, Stoke City 2. Troy Deeney (Watford) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ikechi Anya.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Stoke City. Stephen Ireland replaces Marko Arnautovic.
Substitution, Stoke City. Mame Biram Diouf replaces Ibrahim Afellay.
Delay in match Joselu (Stoke City) because of an injury.
Adlène Guédioura (Watford) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Adlène Guédioura (Watford).
Joselu (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Troy Deeney (Watford) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top right corner.
Nordin Amrabat (Watford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jonathan Walters (Stoke City).
Attempt missed. Mario Suárez (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Nordin Amrabat.
Offside, Stoke City. Marc Muniesa tries a through ball, but Marko Arnautovic is caught offside.
Foul by Nordin Amrabat (Watford).
Giannelli Imbula (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Joselu.
Attempt saved. Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Watford. Ikechi Anya replaces Nathan Aké.
Jonathan Walters (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Miguel Britos (Watford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jonathan Walters (Stoke City).
Foul by Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City).
Etienne Capoue (Watford) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Nordin Amrabat (Watford) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Odion Ighalo.
Foul by Marc Muniesa (Stoke City).
Adlène Guédioura (Watford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Philipp Wollscheid (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Odion Ighalo (Watford).
Attempt missed. Marc Muniesa (Stoke City) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Ibrahim Afellay.
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Heurelho Gomes.
Attempt saved. Ibrahim Afellay (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marko Arnautovic.
Substitution, Watford. Adlène Guédioura replaces Valon Behrami.
Substitution, Watford. Nordin Amrabat replaces Jurado.
Corner, Watford. Conceded by Ibrahim Afellay.
Attempt saved. Joselu (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marc Muniesa with a cross.