Watford traveled to Austria to begin their pre-season training ahead of the 2018/19 Premier League season, playing twice last week; 1-1 draw with 1. FC Köln and a 3-1 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf. The transfer window has introduced new players to the Hornets over the last few weeks, looking to make an impact and impress manager, Javi Gracia. The recent bid by Everton of £50 million, for the 21-year-old, Brazilian, Richarlison has sent shockwaves through the FPL community. On the back of just 5 goals in 41 games last season, he’s being courted by Marco Silva.
Where does that leave Watford, as we inside three weeks until teams kick off the new season. The potential departure of Richarlison, leaves the left wing vacant. In form to end last season, Roberto Pereyra (£6.0), 0.4 TSB% could be the beneficiary. Last season he featured in 32 games, scored 5 goals, 3 assists. Rumors have linked Pereyra reuniting with former Watford boss, Walter Mazzarri in Serie A for Torino. If Pererya stays, he should be strong option down the left flank, providing an opportunity for some good attacking returns at his price.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Gerard Deulofeu (£5.5) has caught the eye of 3.8% of fantasy managers after making his move to Watford permanent, signing a £10 million contract through 2020. He made just 17 appearances for Barcelona before finishing on loan last year at Vicarage Road. Before injuring his foot in gameweek 29, Deulofeu was a spark down the right flank, showing skill and explosiveness, delivering quality crosses into the box. This has been his forte since his Everton days, delivering 9 assists during the 2015/15 season. His price tag makes him an excellent buy as a fifth midfielder and a player who could delivered 5-7 goals and 10 assists for the upcoming season.
As strong as Watford’s flanks are, it’s Will Hughes (£5.0), who will play a key role for the Hornets. Signed from Derby Country in July, 2017 he made a mark in a 2-0 win over West Ham with a goal and assists. In just 15 games last season before missing 14 games, Hughes created 18 chances and notched 3 assists. Hughes has exceptional passing skills and good ball control, something required in the transition game for Watford. Poised to play a number 10 role, he’s intelligent and can create space for teammates. His play will dictate that of the Hornets, as he could benefit from bonus points.
Last season’s player of the year for Watford, Abdoulaye Doucouré (£6.0) had been linked to a transfer away from the Vic after 7 goals and 4 assists. It appears the rumors have subsided and Doucouré will be on the pitch come August 11 when the Hornets host Brighton. The Frenchman was a standout last season in the middle, leading the team in goals on just 47 attempts, 20 coming from inside the box. The return of Hughes to fitness and addition of Deulofeu could benefit Doucouré, improving on his numbers from last season. However, it was a lack of consistency last year that stopped many fantasy managers from bringing him in.
Up front, Watford is a bit short of quality forwards. Troy Deeney (£6.0) posted his first goal of pre-season last week against Fortuna Düsseldorf. At 30-years-old, he isn’t the same player we saw in the Championship or even the last few seasons, scoring just 5 goals in 29 games last season. Hopefully turmoil and controversy are behind him as Watford look to get the best out of their captain and leader on the pitch. Coming off injury last season with no pre-season played, he struggled. This year, there are many outlets for balls into the box for Deeney with Pereyra, Deulofeu and Hughes providing chances. Until more is seen from Deeney early on, I can’t recommend him as a viable selection.
Andre Gray (£6.0) was brought in last year on a transfer from Burnley, where he posted 9 goals, 3 assists for the Clarets in 2016/17. While not the size of Deeney, Gray has the speed, something Watford has missed up front. While he picked up a player of the year in the Championship, he’s play has been anything but. Last week, he picked up a goal against 1. FC Köln. Like Deeney, Gray has struggled in the one forward set for the Hornets. No decision from Gracia as to which player will get the nod to start. Much like Deeney, I can’t justify his inclusion into the starting XI.
Best value appears to be in the midfield, as players like Deulofeu and Hughes should be 90’ players for much of the season. Doucouré could get the nod early, as he’s was last season’s top goal scorer, but the return of Hughes to the starting XI could provide more consistency in attacking returns and bonus points. Pereyra is my Watford dark horse to finish the season as the top attacking asset. The problem still remains, where will the goals comes from?