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Season preview: Steady Watford ready to kick on?

Watford v Everton - Premier League

WATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Troy Deeney of Watford celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on February 24, 2018 in Watford, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

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Watford at a glance

Premier League titles: 0 (best finish, runners up in 1982/83)
FA Cup: Runners up (1983/84)

[ MORE: 2018-19 PL season preview hub ]

They will finish in the top 10 and go on a cup run... Because that is exactly what this squad is capable of and it would constitute a wonderful campaign. The Hornets are well run, have a slightly different approach to transfer dealings given their ownership by the Pozzo family who also have clubs in Italy and Spain. Watford have been in the PL for four seasons on the spin and their strength in depth is getting better each campaign. Going forward they are exciting and they’ve added plenty of extra cover in defense for this season, which was much needed after they conceded the second most goals in the PL in 2017/18.

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It is highly likely they’ll be sucked into a 10-team relegation scrap... Ah, yes. Despite keeping hold of Abdoulaye Doucoure this summer, selling Richarlison could see the very real proposition of a relegation battle arrive. Just like Southampton’s selling finally catching up with them last season, Watford offloading one of their top talents, albeit for a hugely inflated fee, kind of sends out the message that they will not be challenging for Europe but instead keen to remain in the PL and then a top 10 finish is a bonus. That is a slippery slope to navigate.

Transfers in: Ben Foster ($3.2 million, West Brom), Gerard Deulofeu ($14.9 million, Barcelona), Ken Sema ($1.6 million, Ostersunds), Marc Navarro ($2.3 million, Espanyol), Ben Wilmot ($1.9 million, Stevenage), Adam Masina ($5.8 million, Bologna)

Transfers out: Richarlison ($51 million, Everton), Nordin Amrabat ($5.1 million, Al-Nassr), Costel Pantillimon (Nottingham Forest), Mauro Zarate (Boca Juniors)

Best possible XI
----- Foster -----

---- Janmaat ---- Kabasele ---- Britos ---- Holebas ----

----- Doucoure ---- Capoue ----

---- Pereyra ---- Cleverley ----Deulofeu ----

----- Gray -----

Ranking their offseason: 5/10 - Steady enough but losing Richarlison relatively late on in the window means they will be hard-pressed to find a suitable replacement. In Pereyra and Deulofeu they have top wide players already and although they added a new starting goalkeeper (Foster) and several defensive additions, does it really make a leaky defense stronger? There’s no doubt that midfield is their strongest area and Doucoure signing a new long-term deal was a huge boost as some of the PL’s big boys circled.


during the Premier League match between Watford and Leicester City at Vicarage Road on December 26, 2017 in Watford, England.

Michael Regan

Star player: Abdoulaye Doucoure - The powerful French midfielder was an offensive threat last season and his all-round player make him a perfect central midfielder for the Premier League. His long drives forward from the middle of the pitch open up plenty of space for his teammates and he is getting better each season he plays in England. The big boys will come calling again, but at least Doucoure is signed down to a long deal so Watford will get that #RicharlisonMoney if they do decide to sell.

Coaches’ Corner: Javi Gracia steadied the ship successfully after arriving in January as he pulled the Hornets away from the drop zone and they secured big wins against Chelsea and Everton at home. Yet the defensive deficiencies of this team are still there and he will have to improve them drastically as a defensive unit if his time at Vicarage Road will be deemed as a success. The Spaniard is likeable enough but with Watford’s revolving door policy when it comes to managers, it would be quite a shock if he was still in charge next summer.

PST predicts: A season in the lower midtable for Watford who may be more solid but they’ll lose a little of their attacking flair. They have a solid PL squad but not much more than that.

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