EPL Preview: Watford – Can the Hornets sting the big boys?


Vicarage Road will host Premier League football for the first time in eight years following the clubs relegation at the end of the 2006/07 season under the management of Aidy Boothroyd. The club is massively different upon their return to the top flight and even from last year when they were promoted automatically from the Championship as manager Slaviša Jokanović departed to be replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores, the former manager of Valencia, Benfica and Atlético Madrid.


Although they finished with the second most of goals scored in the second tier of English football last season, mainly thanks to striker Troy Deeney whose 21 goals saw him finish second in the scoring charts, Watford looked like they were about to take their first league title since the third tier title in 1998 as, following a fine season, they went into the final home match of the season needing to beat Sheffield Wednesday for the title to be theirs. A 25th minute goal from Matej Vydra saw the title heading to Watford as they were expected to continue their display of excellent attacking football to see off a rampant Bournemouth side who looked to claim the title for themselves. However, disaster struck late on the game as Sheffield Wednesday snatched an equaliser from a corner and this handed the title to Bournemouth.

The fact that Watford jumped from 13th in the 2013/14 season to second and promoted to the top flight eased the pain of missing out on the title but despite a season of many goals and dominant match performances will the brittle edge shown as they aimed for title glory cost them in the top flight this coming season?

EPL Season Preview:

The bookmakers believe that the upcoming 2015/16 Premier League campaign will be a tough one for Watford as Bet365.com make them the 1.73 favourites to be relegated and the longest odds to win the title at odds of 7501.00.

Their current squad has very little Premier League experience, with former Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, ex-Blackpool defender Craig Cathcart and FA Cup winning midfielder Ben Watson the most experienced at this level. This, coupled with a new manager who has never plied his trade in England before, means that this season is likely to be a struggle for a side with one of the more limited budgets in the English top flight.

Ins and Outs:

Quique Sanchez Flores – The new manager has more than a decade of management experience under his belt in Spain, Portugal and UAE. He arrives at Watford having managed Getafe in the Spanish La Primera Liga for just seven weeks in January and February this year where he resigned for personal reasons. He was without a club for nine months after leaving the United Arab Emirates before Getafe and now becomes the fifth Watford manager in a year.

27 year old Lithuanian international goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis arrives at Watford to challenge established ‘keeper Heurelho Gomes between the sticks. He arrives on a free transfer after winning the treble in Romania with Steaua Bucharest.

Sebastian Prödl is a 28 year old who arrives at the club this season and he brings massive amounts of experience at club and international levels to the defensive areas of the field for Watford. He joins from Werder Bremen where he scored ten times in seven years at the club and he has played 49 times for Austria, scoring four times. His arrival will bring a large jump in quality as Watford look to stay in the Premier League this season.

While Diego Perotti is yet to join the club from Genoa the Argentine winger looks set to join in a club record signing of £7m. He spent five years at Sevilla winning the Copa del Rey and Europa League before moving to Genoa in Italy last season. He scored four times in 27 appearances and he too will bring bags of experience as well as his pace and guile, all of which are sorely needed.

Marco Motta, Luke O’Nien and Vujadin Savic have all been released by the club having made a total of ten appearances between them over the last season. They have very little Premier League experience amongst their side so they will need to keep adding to the limited squad they have available to them at this time.

Watford EPL Preview Bets:

Bet365.com have very little faith in the newcomers to the Premier League, and you can see why they do with the lack of experience within the team at this time, and with them offering odds of 1.73 for the Hornets to be relegated we feel that this is good value at this time.

However, if you’re feeling a little bit optimistic about the club formerly owned by Sir Elton John and now in the hands of the Pozzo family who also own Udinese and Granada in Italy and Spain you can back Watford to stay up at odds of 2.10. You can find a price of 3.25 in the Bet365 Sportsbook for Watford to outperform Bournemouth and Norwich to become the best newcomer to the Premier League this season too.

As much we’d like to see the Hertfordshire based club remain in the Premier League we cannot see this happening and we feel that they, along with Championship winners Bournemouth, will be battling for bottom spot in the EPL table and, as such, offer plenty of value on this market. Backing Watford to finish bottom of the Premier League in 2015/16 at odds of 3.50 with Bet365.com is our pick of the season for the newcomers.