Fan View: 'Watford's start has made a mockery of the relegation odds'

6th Sep 2018

If someone had predicted Watford would be joint top - after winning their first four games and making their best start to a Premier League season - they would have been laughed out of the building.

But this is the unprecedented situation which has left Hornets fans rightfully buzzing with the team setting the early pace alongside Liverpool and Chelsea.

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It is one thing to defeat Burnley, Brighton and Crystal Palace but a win over Tottenham, the club's first in the league for 31 years, has made everyone stand up and take notice.

Javi Gracia's side were among the favourites for relegation again this season and the big-money departure of Richarlison to Everton left many fans concerned at the lack of depth up front.

But the Spaniard has masterminded an outstanding start to the season which has made a mockery of the relegation odds and even sparked talk of a challenge for a Europa League spot.

What has caused this sensational start?

Troy Deeney has disappointed during the last few seasons and his Watford career appeared to be limping to an anticlimactic finish.

But the Watford captain has rededicated himself to the game and looks a totally different proposition this season.

Looking significantly leaner than in previous years, a focused Deeney is determined to push on and make the most of his career and he has been very sharp in the opening month.

Deeney has scored twice and formed a dangerous partnership with Andre Gray. The former Luton striker had a terrible first season for Watford but also looks reinvigorated and the faith Gracia has placed in him has undoubtedly paid off.

Deeney and Gray have been given the confidence and backing to form a regular partnership and the early signs are promising.

Watford have also been strong defensively with Christian Kabasele and Craig Cathcart forming a dependable partnership at the back. The return of Ben Foster has also been a significant move with the goalkeeper making crucial saves in the win over Crystal Palace.

Keeping a consistent team, rather than making changes, has also paid off with this continuity benefiting collective performances while individual quality from Roberto Pereyra, who has three goals, has made the difference in tight games.

Gracia at home at Vicarage Road

Since his arrival at the start of 2018, Gracia has built a superb home record. For the first time since 1986, Watford have won four successive top-flight games.

No side has won more than Gracia's seven home league games since January, which is an outstanding return considering the calibre of opponents in the Premier League.

With Manchester United up next following the international break, the Hornets have another opportunity to steal the headlines and upset the odds against Jose Mourinho's side.

A trip to newly-promoted Fulham, which will be tricky, comes after that but the Cottagers are very open at the back and Watford look in the mood to punish them.

The Hornets head to Arsenal at the end of this month but have won on two of their last four visits to Emirates Stadium so it would be foolish to write off their chances.

Can Watford avoid their annual slump?

Watford's history since winning promotion back to the Premier League has seen them start strongly before fading badly in the second half of the season.

The Hornets' form after Christmas has been very disappointing - but could this year be different? No-one should expect Watford to stay perched at the top of the league but if they can maintain their strong home form then remaining inside the top 10 is a realistic target. 

Burnley managed this last season and Watford's squad is arguably more talented than the group at Sean Dyche's disposal so there is no reason why the club cannot stay in the top half and avoid a mid-season slump.

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