Why Watford could become draw specialists this season

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Walter Mazzarri collected his first point as Watford manager in a 1-1 draw with Southampton on the Premier League’s opening day.

The Italian set his new club up in his favoured three-at-the-back formation and was content with what he saw after the match, despite the stats leaning alarmingly in the Saints’ favour.

The home side, also playing their first competitive game for new manager Claude Puel, enjoyed 66 per cent of the possession, had 24 shots at goal, fired six of those on target and also took six corners.

Watford’s numbers in the same categories were 34 per cent, five shots, one on target and two corners.

However, data from WhoScored paints a slightly different picture, with a whopping 13 of the St Mary’s side’s attempts coming from outside the box, the most of any top-flight side in action on the division’s first day of games.

While breaking through a stubborn Hornets backline was clearly a tough task for the home side, Watford weren’t exactly free-flowing when they had opportunities to attack.

Their only shot inside the penalty area all day came when Etienne Capoue fired Troy Deeney’s knockdown into the roof of the net. All four of their other shots came from long range and were off target.

A well-organised defence and limited attack makes Watford candidates for plenty of draws this season, a tag Mazzarri has carried with him for much of managerial career.

In his final full season in charge of Inter Milan in 2013/14, the San Vincenzo native ended level in 15 of the side’s 38 games.

Six of the 54-year-old’s 10 Serie A campaigns saw his side collect 13 or more draws in the season and the early signs suggest Watford could be heading down a similar path.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.