EPL Season Preview: Watford

Vicarage Road 2015Coach: Walter Mazzarri

2015/16 Finish: 13

2016/17 Projected Finish: 14

Sportify Rating: 1494

2015/16 Wagebill: £29M (2nd lowest in 2016 EPL)

Stadium capacity: 23,370 at Vicarage Road (3rd smallest in 2016 EPL)

Departures: Almen Abdi (Sheffield Wednesday); Gabriele Angella (Udinese); Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord); George Byers (Swansea); Josh Doherty (Leyton Orient); Joel Ekstrand (released); Uche Ikpeazu (released); Jorell Johnson (released); Jose Manuel Jurado (Espanyol); Miguel Layun (Porto); Bernard Mensah (Aldershot); Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday); Luke Simpson (released)

Arrivals: Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille); Christian Kabasele (Genk); Jerome Sinclair (Liverpool); Isaac Success (Granada); Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli)

The good: Two headed monster up top


Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney carried the hornets into the EPL by combining for 41 league goals in Watford’s promotional campaign and answered the bell in the EPL, too. The duo combined for 28 league goals last season. Ighalo finished T-7th with 15 goals and 7th in terms of xG involved, while Deeney was 11th in the same metric and finished T-9th with 13 goals. The only other pair that works so well in tandem (look for the large green circles) are Ozil and Giroud at Arsenal:


The bad: Two headed monster up top


Ighalo and Deeney performed well for the Hornets, but there wasn’t much outside those two in attack for Watford. Ighalo either took or assisted 50% of Watford’s xG all season (highest for any single player in the EPL) and Deeney wasn’t far behind at 41% (4th highest). The pair combined to score 75% of Watford’s league goals last year – more than any other pair of players in the league. But, when the duo was off its game, so were Watford. In early 2016, the pair hit a bit of a dry spell combining for six goals and three assists in 14 games. During that stretch, Watford fell from 7th to 15th taking a dreadful 9 points from 14 games. Ighalo hit another dry spell late in the season (see the orange lines in the charts below), but Deeney had some success keeping Watford from sliding further down.


Bottom line

This is the first time Watford are playing a second consecutive season in the Premier League. This is their best chance to use an influx of revenues to build a solid foundation and move away from the bottom of the table. Turning down £25M for Deeney clearly shows their intentions. Now they must execute.