As a Watford support it was a feeling of exhilaration to see Vicarage Road filled with cheers and excitement on the back of a 2-0 defeat of Brighton & Hove Albion to kick off the 2018/19 Premier League. The Hornets were dominating for 90 minutes, as Roberto Pereyra volley in the 35’ off a Jose Holebas cross found the top left corner of the goal. Watford controlled the ball and dictated the pace as the second half started. Again, it was Holebas and Pereyra hooking up down the left flank, as Pereyra cut into the box, with a bending shot that found far post, Watford had doubled their advantage.
From a supporter’s perspective, it’s great to secure a win, at home the first game of the season. Looking ahead, Watford travel to Turf Moor to meet a stingy Burnley defense, which now has Joe Hart in goal, but a formidable that is unchanged from last season.
Breaking down the 2017/18 schedule, Watford ended the season with 11 loses and one draw over the last 12 game weeks, their last away win, gameweek 13 at St. James’ Park, a 3-2 victory. The numbers get worse for the Hornets as they scored just two away goals during that stretch! They away goals were much better through the first 13 weeks of the season, scoring 15, but all dried up after victory against Newcastle.
While Pereyra and Holebas had outstanding games to start the season, that form could be jeopardy as they travel north in gameweek 2. Burnley is a defensive squad that prides itself on clean sheets, which is potentially what we could see this week. Based on numbers from the FPL site, over 109k have brought Holebas in, while another 121k have seen Pereyra join their squads.
Knee jerk? Introducing them for GW2 would be a mistake. No indication from Gracia on the formation he will run out, last week is was a rarely used, 4-4-2, which provide to be very attack minded with Troy Deeney and Andre Gray up front. This fact aside, Pereyra and Holebas will be in the starting XI.
Pereyra (£6.0) lead all midfielders at his price in penalty touches (9) and goals (2). He topped the chart (along with Lemina) with 4 shots, all on goal. He had just 57 touches in the game, but 46 were in the opponent’s half and 33 of them were inside the final third, receiving 18 passes. Based on the numbers, the Argintine had an excellent game, but will these sorts of stats be telling at the end of the Burnley game?
After the trip to Turf Moor, Watford return to the Vic, where four out of the next six will be played; Crystal Palace, Spurs and Manchester United and Bournemouth. Not sure I would be pursuing Pereyra away of the away trip. The most telling stats in the time Pereyra has been at Watford, 46 games, he’s scored just one away goal, last year at Chelsea in GW9 and one assist, two years ago in GW4 at West Ham.
I posted a statistic on Twitter the other day; “Why NOT Jose Holebas? Since joining Watford, he’s totaled 24 yellow cards and 10 assists.” It’s games like last week against Brighton that make you look his direction, an attack-minded wing back, priced at £4.5 who loves to get forward. He’s on set pieces, corners and all throw in. The two assists were more of an anomaly than the nor for the Greek. Since joining Watford, he’s posted just 4 assists, each of the last two seasons, recoding a total of just three goals since joining the Hornets. While good as a fifth defender, affordably price, I don’t recommend the defender on a free transfer, as he’s more prone to pick up a yellow than his third assist.
After the Hornets get through this tough stretch, I would place them on the watch list starting GW8, as they return home to the Vic, hosting Bournemouth. Be very leery of Watford assets, we saw this same early season success last season, before they wheels fell off and any fantasy value dwindled.