Watford’s remarkably strong start to the new Premier League campaign – which sees them currently in 7th place with 19 points on the board – has surprised many. After a full pre-season with his squad, Javi Gracia has constructed a hard working, dogged side who can also play with real incision and flair in the final third.
A big part of the Hornets’ attacking play has been inspired by the form of Roberto Pereyra. Following the big money sale of Richarlison in the summer, it was imperative that someone stood forward and took attacking responsibility at Vicarage Road and the 11-cap Argentina international has done just that. In fact, his club form has been so impressive this season that he has added to his national team appearances for the first time since 2015.
Compared to last season, Pereyra’s output on the pitch has improved across a range of key areas. His upturn in form is helping to drive his team forward and his end product is winning valuable points for his side with regularity.
In terms of end product, the attacking midfielder has already matched his Premier League goals total of last season in this campaign. Last time out, the 27-year-old notched five league strikes in 32 appearances – a rate of 0.15 goals per game. This time around he has already tallied up five goals in just ten outings – a strike rate of 0.5 finishes per match. That’s a tremendous upswing of 0.4 goals per game.
It’s no surprise to see the Argentine finding the back of the net with greater regularity this season as he is taking far more shots. Last season, he averaged one shot on goal per match. This season, that figure has increased by 0.9.
It’s not just in front of goal that Pereyra’s game has improved either. The confidence that his good form has given him is obvious as he is clearly fearless in possession and always eager to take on his opponents when he gets on the ball. This season he has been averaging 1.6 dribbles per game, an increase of 0.6 from last term’s average figure of 1 dribble per match.
On top of that, he is also creating more chances for his teammates too. Now he is producing 1.1 key passes each game – a rise of 0.3 up from last year.
Remarkably, the former Juventus man has even upped his game defensively. He has improved his contribution of interceptions from 0.3 per match to 0.9 and is making 0.5 tackles per game this season, compared to 0.3 last time out.
If Pereyra can keep these performance levels up then Watford will find that they have no reason to miss Richarlison at all.