Albeit a successful return to the top-flight, Watford’s first season back in the Premier League was a tale of two halves. Eight wins and five draws in their first 19 games saw the Hornets sitting pretty in eighth heading into second half of the season. However four wins and four draws from the following 19 games saw Watford finish the season in 13th. Impressive nonetheless.
Watford had previously experienced two full seasons in the Premier League in 1999/00 and 2006/07, finishing bottom on both occasions. Despite guiding his side to their highest league finish in the Premier League era, Quique Sanchez Flores faced the boot and has been replaced by former Napoli and Inter manager Walter Mazzarri. It’ll be interesting to see whether this gamble pays off. Due to the board’s high expectations and cut-throat attitude, Mazzarri could find himself under pressure if they start poorly and best-price 13/2 for the Italian to be the first manager to leave looks a sensible bet (assuming the Tony Pulis situation is resolved).
Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney contributed 15 and 13 league goals respectively last campaign and are likely to play a crucial role in their bid for survival this season. With no one else managing more than two league goals, adding attacking options was a priority this summer. In came Isaac Success for an estimated £12.5m as well as Liverpool youth product Jerome Sinclair. Mazzarri has also bolstered the Watford defence, bringing in Marseille right-back Brice Dja Djédjé and Belgian centre-back Christian Kabasele.
The bookies make Watford the fourth-favourites to get relegated at 23/10 and there’s no doubt avoiding the drop will be the focus for Mazzarri this season. You can get 9/1 on them to finish bottom, although Hull are making an early bid to make 20th place their own. If you think Mazzarri is the man to take Watford to the next step, Watford are as long as 9/1 to finish in the top half (as short as 9/2 in places).