A summer spending spree and record number of transfer rumours have filled some of the void since May, but now focus finally shifts to the opening game of the 2015-16 Premier League season as Watford travel to Goodison Park to play Everton on August 8.
We got the Forza Watford! team together, as well as From the Rookery End‘s Jon Moonie, and asked them to predict what may or may not happen during the Hornets’ first season back in the Premier League.
Don’t forget to share your predictions with us in the comments below!
Who will win the Hornets’ Player of the Season award?
Jamie Leah: Troy Deeney will take home the award once again, although I’m not entirely sure that Quique Sanchez Flores’ 4-2-3-1 formation will get the best out of him – at least to begin with.
Adam Drury: The signs in pre-season are that Jose Manuel Jurado may be amongst the classiest players anyone will have ever seen in a Watford shirt. It’s genuinely terrifying to think that we might have our hands on a better version of Almen Abdi, in fact many may say impossible given Abdi’s blatant omnipotent powers, but Jurado may be just that. It feels as though if Jurado exerts his influence on enough games, we’ll earn enough points to survive.
Tom Kerridge: It’d be a brave man who bets on anyone other than Deeney being our player of the season, although I do think that this season he’ll come up against some serious defences that won’t allow him as much time or room as some did last season.
Jon Moonie: The fans will vote for Deeney again, which will see him become the first player to win three Player of the Season awards in a row.However, the true player of the season, who will go comparatively unnoticed is Sebastian Prodl. The only way he could win the trophy is for Alan Hansen to make a dramatic return to Match of The Day and him spend every Saturday night singing the praise of ‘P-Unit”s defensive mastery.
Chris Gilbert-Anderson: Troy Deeney. I think the season is going to be tough to start with and it will take time to find our feet but Deeney won’t give up the ghost or let his head drop. He will be vital for us when we find the going tough. As well as this, he’s now got the stage to perform and I don’t see him passing up that chance.
Which player will finish as Watford’s top goal scorer?
JL: I can’t see anyone other than Troy Deeney finishing as Watford’s top goal scorer, particularly as it looks like he’ll be spear-heading the attack in Quique Sanchez Flores’ favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
AD: It’ll take a brave man to bet on anyone bar Deeney given the system we’ll play and the form he takes into this season. Had Flores been inclined to go with two upfront I’d have been tempted to go with Matej Vydra but I fully expect Deeney to lead both the line and the goal-scoring charts at Vicarage Road this year.
TK: Again I’m going to go with Deeney. While I doubt that he’ll be able to make it to 20 goals again, I do think that he’ll bag a fair few.
JM: Odion Ighalo. Opposition fans are going to hate the sound of ‘Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’! He may be the man to put the balls in the back on the net, but it will be Jose Manuel Jurado’s crossing and creativity that will give Ighalo the opportunities. However, no one on Match of The Day will talk about him because they’re all strikers.
CGA: Again, I can’t see past Deeney. With Quique playing with a lone striker during preseason I see Ighalo and Vydra battling for the supporting role. Will he hit the magic 20? I doubt it, but 14-15 goals this season will be a good outcome.
Which of the club’s new signings will have the biggest impact?
JL: I’m excited by the arrivals of Steven Berghuis and Jose Manuel Jurado, but I think Sebastian Prodl will make a mark this season – and I’m not just saying that because of his 6 ft 4 in frame! His experience in both the Bundesliga and Champions League with former club Werder Bremen, as well as the 49 caps he’s won for Austria will stand him in good stead.
AD: Given that I think Jurado will win player of the season I’d obviously say him here too, but I’m also really excited by Etienne Capoue. He had a big reputation before joining Spurs and I’m hoping his development has only been affected by the dark cloud of doom which seems to hover over the graveyard of European talent at White Hart Lane. Hopefully he can boss games at this level the way Adlene Guedioura did last season.
TK: I think that Etienne Capoue will be crucial to our season. As one of the few players in our squad with the much lauded ‘premier league experience’ he should provide a calm head in the middle of the pitch which will influence a lot of our attacking play.
JM: Of the two above it will be Jurado. He’ll be a beacon of flare and jaw-dropping (I’m basing this on the fact a Wolves supporting mate of mine saw him a Dundee United and said “the fella at right-back was useful.”
CGA: I think it is going to be Berghuis. He’s exciting to watch and can find the net. However, Prodl is going to be a valued addition for us too I think. We’ve missed a solid, commanding centre back and he’ll live up to it.
Which player will be the ‘surprise package’?
JL: I thought Almen Abdi would surprise us all and have a injury-free campaign, but that’s already out of the question as it looks like the Swiss midfielder will miss the Hornets’ opening game of the season with a knee injury. Craig Cathcart should surprise a few when he keeps Gabriele Angella out of the starting line-up.
AD: We’ve now such a good squad, that I find it hard to see where a player coming from nowhere could really get a look in. It may not be a surprise to us, but I’m really hoping that Cathcart can continue where he left off last season and ensure that we rarely field an all-new back four! He could be someone in the ilk of Scott Dann or Ashley Williams and take to the higher level with ease.
TK: Cathcart. He’s already been a surprise package having arrived for his second stint at the club an entirely different player from the first, and I’d expect him to grab the opportunity to play in the Premier League again with both hands. I’m also expecting Flores to get the best out of Jurado who I think could really bother several of weaker defences further down the table (I’m looking at you Aston Villa).
JM: Miguel Layun. Haters are going to hate, but he will harness his twitter followers and always have a good game when we are on telly. I think his abilities will translate much better to the Premier League.
CGA: Ben Watson. One of the few in the squad with Premier League experience and I think he’ll have to fight for his place in the team but when he gets there he’ll take his chance with both hands and be a very hard player to shift out.
Where will Watford finish in the Premier League?
JL: I recently wrote about how I felt the Pozzo family have set Watford up for Premier League survival, so I’m naturally going to back the Hornets to finish higher that 18th. It’ll take new head coach Quique Sanchez Flores and a squad that features no less than 10 new signings time to get accustomed to Premier League football, but I think a strong second half of the 2015-16 campaign will see the Vicarage Road outfit finish in 15th place.
AD: I really would be delighted with safety – however it came. I think the season really depends on how successful the recruitment is. If the vast majority prove themselves to be ready for this level, and I think they will, then *hopefully* we can be looking at a safe bottom half finish. I’ll go for 16th.
TK: I’m yet to read a pundit’s predictions where they don’t predict us to crash and burn. Despite all of the managerial changes in the past 12 months, and the sudden influx of foreign signings, I’m convinced we’re good enough for a lower mid-table finish 15th.
JM: 15th, which will mean quite a disappointing end to the season as there won’t be a tense final day of the season – in fact that won’t be disappointing, it’ll be really enjoyable after the last few seasons.
CGA: 16th. After a rough start we’ll pick up points on the road and they’ll start to add up. Anything above 18th I’m certainly happy with.