The Hornets are off to a perfect 4 and 0 start to the season, with victories over teams like Tottenham, Crystal Palace, and Brighton. How are they doing it?
The top of the EPL standings looks pretty similar to past seasons, with teams like Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man City in the top four. But then you see a side like Watford right there amongst these EPL giants. They are currently tied for first place with Chelsea and Liverpool with a perfect 12 points.
A crazy statistic that came out last week was the similarities between Leicester City, who won the league in 2015/16, and Watford this year. The year before Leicester won it all, they finished in 14th place with an 11-8-19 record with 41 points. Watford finished with the exact same record and amount of points last season. Could Watford top Leicester with even a bigger underdog story this season and win the league? The chances are slim, but anything is possible.
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Unlike teams like Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea or Mo Salah and Liverpool, Watford doesn’t really have any star talent on their squad. Despite this, they have shown to have very good comradery between one another and look very comfortable playing together so far this season.
The components to their success
Roberto Pereyra is one of the first names that come to mind when it comes to Watford’s early success this year. In Javier Gracia’s 4-2-2-2 formation, The Argentinian serves as one of the Hornets attacking midfielders on the left. He’s already netted three times in four games after scoring just eight goals for Watford prior to this season. Pereyra is a very skilled and quick player in Watford’s midfield, showing the ability to score and also thread balls into the pockets up to his strikers Andre Gray and Troy Deeney.
Deeney is the next vital part of their offense. The big striker has scored twice this season and also tallied an assist. The Englishman has been playing for Watford since 2010, scoring 107 times in 313 appearances. He looks very fit and high-energy up front, creating lots of opportunities around the net and serving as one of their main men on the attack.
Andre Gray, who plays alongside Deeney up front, has only scored once this season but has looked very sharp. He is a very quick and skilled player who gels very well with Deeney as Watford’s two strikers.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue, who play as defensive midfielders in the 4-2-2-2 formation, have been outstanding for the Hornets this year. Both players have played the full 90 minutes in all four matches so far. They aren’t huge offensive threats, but they really hold down the midfield and both play a very strong defensive game.
In the defense, there all several players who have been in impressive form. But the main man who stands out on the back line is Jose Holebas. The left-back leads all EPL defenders with an astounding four assists and one goal this year, including the assist to the game-winner against Tottenham last weekend.
Holebas has been absolutely outstanding for Javier Gracia’s side, not only playing great defense but also contributing offensively. He’s done a good job of getting balls up the left flank to his wingers and surging forward with the ball out of his own end when the chances present themselves. He has a good feel for the offensive side of the game, evident by his stat line through just four matches thus far.
Gray and Deeney
Andre Gray and Troy Deeney have formed a great relationship playing together so far this season up front. Last year, they played together at times but the formation Watford played was slightly different. This year, with Gracia’s formation which features two strikers up top, the two have played together every match so far and combined for three goals. They play very selfless and are constantly looking for one another in open space if they don’t have a good opportunity to score themselves.
Watford will be back in action after the international break against Manchester United and will look to continue their Cinderella story and build off the recent success they’ve had.