The Opposition: Watford

Stoke Watford

Watford surpassed expectations last season by comfortably staying in the Premier League and reaching an FA Cup semi-final.

That wasn’t enough to keep Quique Sanchez Flores in a job though, with Italian Walter Mazzarri taking his place in the hotseat.

Most talk at Vicarage Road this summer has surrounded the future of Watford’s star strikers.

Captain Troy Deeney has signed a new contract- having interested Champions Leicester- whilst Odion Ighalo was the subject of a £38 million bid from China.

There is no doubt that without the front two Watford would have struggled last season.

Granted, Deeney scored a high proportion of goals from the spot, but their link-up play was excellent and between them they banged in 28 of Watford’s 40 goals in the league.

Plenty of Watford’s success this coming campaign will be based around those two, although the club’s success defensively must not be overlooked.

They conceded just 50 goals over the course of the season, which is an excellent return following promotion.

It could be a tricky campaign for Watford second time around and I fully expect them to be in a relegation battle come the end of the season.

Memorable match: Watford 1-2 Stoke. 19 March 2016. Stoke’s first Premier League visit to Vicarage Road brought a comfortable three points. Phil Bardsley’s attacking prowess on the right wing was as exciting as it was surprising, and his cross allowed Jon Walters to open the scoring. Joselu doubled the score with a magnificent lob following Gomes’ poor clearance. Deeney’s late goal gave Stoke butterflies, but we held on.

2016-17 Fixtures: 26 November (A), 2 January (H).

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