Pre-Season Preview – Watford


Watford come off the back of a season which saw them reach the FA Cup final and narrowly miss out on a top 10 finish in the Premier League.

Watford held their own in the top half of the table for much of last season as they threatened to gatecrash the top six. But a run to the FA Cup final soon saw their league form drift off and finish in 11th place.

Despite this, it was a positive season under Javi Gracia, who has developed many of Watford’s players during his tenure. Andre Gray growing to becoming a key figure in the forward line whilst Gerard Delefeou, Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure continued to show their quality.

Troy Deeney embodied the spirit of the club and the positivity around the growth they have undergone since promotion back to the Premier League, his performance in the semi-final win over Wolves was as emotional as it was impressive.


Watford have made just one senior signing in the window, acquiring West Brom defender Craig Dawson for £5 million. They also won the race for the signature of young Fluminense forward Joao Pedro, the Brazilian due to join the squad in January after a £2.5m move.

Dodi Lukebakio, who impressed on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf last season, made a permanent move to Germany as Hoffenheim paid £18 million to Watford for his services.


Watford open their Premier League season with the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion, followed by a trip to Merseyside to take on Marco Silva and his Everton side. West Ham (H) and Newcastle (A) precede a tough couple of fixtures against a revitalised Arsenal (H) and league champions Manchester City (A).


Javi Gracia feels his side is ready for the Premier League, citing their pre-season tours and fixtures have been the perfect warm up for the coming year.

“We started from July 1 and from that moment the period we trained at the training ground and the week we were in Austria, I’m really pleased with all the different moments,” the Hornets head coach responded when asked how he felt pre-season had gone.

“The games were good for us against very good teams, a high level – Ajax, Leverkusen, today Real Sociedad and even QPR – all of them were tough games and I prefer to play against these teams. It was good for us to have these experiences and now I think we are ready to compete.”


Watford fans will be hoping to replace their cup run of last season, but better the final result as they lost 6-0 to a rampant Manchester City. The Hornets find themselves in the group of clubs which will have their eyes on the European spots with it deemed that Manchester United and Chelsea may be susceptible to dropping out of those coveted European spots.

Expected starting XI

Foster; Femenia, Dawson, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Capoue, Doucoure, Sema; Gray, Deeney


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