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watford

Looking for a top half finish

General preview 2019/20

Continuing steady year-on-year progress

Last season was certainly a campaign to remember for the Hornets.

An 11th place finish in the Premier League was a best-ever for Watford who certainly exceeded expectations during Javi Gracia’s first full campaign in charge.

That was also topped with a run to the FA Cup final which gave supporters a well-deserved day out at Wembley.

Since being promoted to the Premier League in 2015, the club have made steady year-on-year progress and the hope will certainly be that they can do the same.

Watford aren’t a club who will spend vast sums on new players, but if a couple of shrewd aquisitions can see them secure a top half finish next term then that will certainly be a deemed a successful campaign.

Pre-season news

THREE WINS FROM FOUR IN COMPETITIVE CLOSE-SEASON CONTESTS

Ajax 2-1 Watford

Gray.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Watford

Hughes, Gray.

QPR 0-1 Watford

Capoue.

Watford 2-1 Real Sociedad

Gray (x2).

transfer window

KEEPING STAR PLAYERS INTACT THE KEY

It’s been a quiet summer at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets have made only two signings of note, Craig Dawson from West Brom and Tom Dele-Bashiru on a free transfer from Manchester City.

While these could both be seen as shrewd additions, they’re not exactly deals to get the supporters fired up and ready for the new campaign.

However this could change if Watford manage to secure a deal for Renne star Ismailla Sarr.

The main success story of the summer has been the retention of star players such as Roberto Pereyra, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Gerard Deulofeu. If they are still around when the window shuts it will be wonderful news for the Hornets.

Although one player who could move on is Dodi Lukebakio, who has been linked with a move to Lille as a potential replacement for Nicolas Pepe.

Rating: 5/10

Rating: 5/10

Craig Dawson

The 29-year-old is a solid, yet unspectacular signing for the Hornets. His experience at Premier League level is undoubted, but whether he provides a better option than the centre-backs currently at the club, I’m not so sure. That said, Dawson is a model professional and his experience and leadership can only be a good thing for Javi Gracia’s side this term.

Rating: 6/10

Tom Dele-Bashiru

It’s not a signing to get Watford fans’ mouths watering, but it could prove to be a shrewd bit of business. Having developed at the Man City academy Dele-Bashiru has undoubted talent, but he’s unlikely to be ready to push for a spot in the first team for a while. However there’s little risk in signing a player on a free transfer, and if the midfielder can develop in the way that player such as Ben Wilmot and Domingos Quina did last term, the addition of the 20-year-old could prove to be very shrewd indeed.

Season predictions

Solid but unspectacular

It looks set to be a solid, yet unspectacular season for Watford.

The addition of Craig Dawson is a smart addition, but on his own my feeling is that it isn’t enough to fire the Hornets up to the next level.

Javi Gracia has done an excellent job since coming in and he has made Vicarage Road a thoroughly enjoyable place for his players to play attractive, attacking football and I expect us to see more of the same next term.

At present, the Watford squad isn’t good enough to break into the top eight of the Premier League, but they should be pushing to be ‘the best of the rest’.

With seasoned top flight professionals like Ben Foster, Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney combined with individual star quaity in the shape of Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu, Gracia’s side should have no worries about being dragged into a relegation scrap and should instead be looking towards a top half finish and another good cup run.

While their star players will win some games single-handedly, I believe that the business done by Premier League rivals will see them maintain a safe finish in the upper echelons of the bottom half.