Watford well equipped to tackle survival bid from the front


Only a fool would conclude that knitting successive Premier League wins together in September is proof that a promoted side will be swimming with the sharks still next season.

Then again, Watford are a club showing genuine signs that they are equipped for the Herculean task at hand early in their campaign.

If Championship teams were issued a top-flight survival kit, it would have to contain many of the elements that Quique Flores is currently cultivating at Vicarage Road, not least a thriving strike partnership.

Troy Deeney’s 21 strikes last term played an integral role in Watford gaining promotion automatically behind Bournemouth, while 20 league goals from Nigerian ace Odion Ighalo showed what a prolific double act had been unearthed.

Although the former is yet to ripple a Premier League net, the way Deeney has played in tamed with Ighalo is a lesson for forward duos across the land, highlighted by three assists to his name already.

The fashion in which the pair dovetailed at Newcastle was a case in point, with Deeney’s groundwork given the finishing touches by Ighalo once again.

Often promoted sides have one recognised goal scorer they rely heavily upon, such as Charlie Austin for QPR last season, but as the R’s subsequently proved, that normally isn’t enough in England’s top tier.

Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn inked a handy blueprint when firing Sunderland to promotion in 1998/1999 before their famed partnership not only led the Black Cats to survival, but also to the heady heights of a seventh-place finish in the Premier League the very next season.

The odds compilers at Ladbrokes make the Hornets 1/7 shots to avoid the drop half a dozen games in, though odds of 2/11 to finish in the bottom half convey a slight reality check.

If strikers alone don’t make a team, though, a work ethic does and this is something Flores is extracting by the skip load early in the campaign.

Only Manchester City have claimed maximum points from a showdown with Watford so far this season, while a very impressive Swansea unit have been beaten and an Everton side that tore Chelsea apart at home have been contained at Goodison Park.

Given the lack of collective Premier League experience at the back, defensively the Hornets have been surprisingly sound as well, with clean sheets returned in half of their six games.

These are early days at Vicarage Road, but highly promising ones, especially when Deeney shakes off the cobwebs in front of goal.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.