Watford’s first season back in the Premier League since 2006 proved an immense success. They finished in 13th place, above already established Premier League teams such as West Brom and Newcastle. Perhaps the biggest shock was the sacking of head coach Quique Sanchez Flores before the season ended. From an outsider looking in, this decision seemed ludicrous and was criticised heavily by various pundits. However, as a Watford fan who missed only 2 games last season, this decision was justified. QSF was stubborn in his team selection and refused to adapt to the opposition. He refused to introduce new players and refused to drop those playing poorly, some traits of us fantasy football managers at times! It came to a point where owner, Gino Pozzo, decided enough was enough.
Walter Mazzari was quickly signed as new Watford head coach and seems to have already made an impact. It appears Watford will line up in a 3-5-2 formation next season, which Mazzari played at Napoli and Sampdoria. This formation is one which promises defensive stability and lots of goals. What could go wrong?
STAR MAN – Troy Deeney (7.0m)
With the sacking of Quique Sanchez Flores as Watford’s head coach and a 30m bid from Leicester, many, including us Watford fans, cast a shadow of doubt over the future of Troy Deeney. However on July 1st 2016, Deeney commited his future to Watford by signing a new and improved 5 year contract.
Deeney had a slow start to the season, having to wait until October 24th to score his first ever Premier League goal, in the 2-0 away victory at Stoke. This slow start was in sharp contrast to Watford’s explosive start to the season, which saw them sit in 7th position after 16 games. Deeney’s strike partner Odion Ighalo was the one taking all of the headlines, scoring in 7 consecutive games. However, Ighalo’s success was derived from Deeney’s assists and creative play. The two of them were a force to be reckoned with.
After Christmas, Watford fans got to see the Troy Deeney they all know and love. Deeney would finish the season strongly and ended up with a total of 13 goals and 7 assists in the league, as well as a further 2 goals in the FA Cup. All of Watford’s play goes through Deeney, as he is an incredibly good areal threat and a lethal finisher. Priced at just 7.0m, Deeney offers goals, assists and is also the club’s guaranteed penalty taker. This makes him a tasty option as a 3rd striker in your Fantasy Premier League team.
HIDDEN GEM – Craig Cathcart (4.5m)
Watford’s fine season was built on a strong defensive unit, allowing them to build from the back. Craig Cathcart, throughout the season, was at the heart of the Watford defence and was much to do with their 11 clean sheets they managed throughout the season. Cathcart picked up only 1 goal last season in the 35 games he played, however regularly towers above opposition centre backs and is always a threat from corners. In Cathcart you are guaranteed game time and clean sheets. He is a great option to have as a cheap defender who will undoubtedly have a low ownership percentage.
BARGAIN OPTOPN – Brice Dja DjeDje (4.5m)
Signed from Marseille for a fee of around £2m, Brice Djedje is a versatile right sided defender. Under Walter Mazzarri’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, Djedje seems set to start in the right wing back position. Being a pacey defender with an eye for an assist, Djedje is guaranteed freedom to bomb up and down the right wing, and with two strikers with an eye for goal upfront, this is a combination destined for returns. As well as attacking potential, Watford are bound to keep up their defensive stability which saw them keep 11 clean sheets last season. Djedje is priced generously at 4.5m, given he is almost guaranteed to play every week.
However, Watford’s first 5 games are particularly difficult, with the Hornets facing Southampton, Chelsea, Arsenal, West Ham and Man United. My recommendation would be to avoid Watford players (particularly defenders) during this period. This allows time for us FPL players to assess who is playing week in week out, and whether they are worth bringing in after the first 5 game weeks, when Watford’s fixtures improve drastically.
Written by Jack (@jeaton__)