Watford – 16/17 Premier League season preview

Last season’s heroics to finish mid-table and make an FA Cup semi final were met by the board not with gleeful pats on the back, but with dismissal of their manager.

If you think that’s harsh, you’re not the only one. But if Walter Mazzarri keeps Watford progressing then it’ll have been a good call.

Last season

Watford 1516 season

Only four league wins since Christmas, however, isn’t really good enough, despite an appearance at Wembley in a semi final.

Watford will have to make sure their terrible form doesn’t bleed into next season, because lifting their form after a poor start will be tough.

What does success look like?

Crystal Palace v Watford - FA Cup Semi Final

After last season’s start and a cup semi final, Watford should be optimistic. But the form at the end of last season, coupled with a manager untested in the Premier League is a recipe for disaster.

It’s true, however, that Quique Sanchez Flores was untested in the Premier League. But going from manager with a point to prove to a manager with a point to prove is risky business. Staying up is surely the aim.

How has the summer gone?

Woking v Watford - Pre Season Friendly

The most impressive part of the summer’s business from Watford is probably the fact they turned down a combined £60m for their strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.

In many ways, though, it makes good sense: if you get rid of your tried and tested strike pairing then you have to replace them. And as Crystal Palace and West Ham are finding out, just having the cash doesn’t mean players necessarily want to join.

Key man

Odion Ighalo

Last season’s top scorer Odion Ighalo is rated so highly by Watford that they’ve even taken to rejecting £37.5m bids for him.

With 14 league goals last term, they’ll need a similar return from one of the league’s revelations if they’re to find safe shores come next May.

Make or break season

West Bromwich Albion v Watford - Barclays Premier League

A thunderbastard of a strike against Arsenal in an FA Cup quarter final isn’t really enough to cement your place in the squad for the future. Or so Adlene Guedioura will discover.

Only three league starts last time around – yet 15 appearances from the bench – show that he needs to do more to force his way into the starting lineup. You can’t play the supersub role forever.