It’s a testament both to how well Watford started last season and how much of a fantastic job Javi Gracia has done that a year in which Watford achieved their highest-ever Premier League points tally and reached an FA cup final has a slightly disappointing aftertaste.
Two wins, one draw and six losses from their final nine games saw them fade away from a battle for seventh place that they had no right to take part in, considering the comparably vast resources of the likes of Everton and Wolves.
What’s more, a 5-0 humbling to Manchester City in the FA Cup final hardly helped, although there are few teams in England capable of avoiding embarrassment when facing Pep Guardiola’s super-side at full throttle.
Still, last season’s broader successes ensure that Watford fans can look forward to the season ahead with much more optimism than has previously been afforded during their Premier League stint.
RealSport takes a look at their squad’s potential FIFA 20 ratings.
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Ben Foster (OVR 77 – 79)
When Watford signed Ben Foster from relegated West Brom, it felt like somewhat of a stopgap, not due to doubts regarding Foster’s quality, but for his advancing years. Yet, his signing turned out to be a huge steal for the Hornets – Foster added some serious steel to an ageing, cheaply assembled defence and was one of the stars of the season. As a result, he should see his rating rise two points to 79.
Kiko Femenia (OVR 76 – 77)
Position: RB, RM
Craig Cathcart (OVR 73 – 76)
Country: Northern Ireland
Craig Cathcart is a bit of an unsung hero at the heart of Watford’s defence. Last season, he had more appearances than any other outfield Hornet, starting all but three of Watford’s Premier League fixtures. He is also a key component of a gritty Northern Ireland side that often punch above their weight. The 30-year-old should get a healthy three-point boost after a solid campaign.
Christian Kabasele – (OVR 78 – 76)
Who will start at centre-back next season is probably the most uncertain position in Watford’s line-up. After some erroneous performances last campaign, Kabasele lost his starting spot to Adrian Mariappa. However, if Kabasele can recreate his 2017-2018 form, he will surely reclaim it, although new signing Craig Dawson is sure to challenge him. A disappointing season sees his rating decreased to 76.
Jose Holebas (OVR 77 – 79)
Jose Holebas’s excellent season arguably came as more of a surprise than the aforementioned Ben Foster. Whereas English fans have seen Foster excel earlier in his career, Holebas has raised his game out of nowhere. The Greek defender was excellent throughout, but especially at the start of the season, registering six assists. One caveat to his game, however, is his poor disciplinary record; he picked up 12 yellow cards last season, the joint second-highest in the league. He should be increased to 80 or possibly 79.
Roberto Pereyra (OVR 79 – 79)
Position: LM, CAM
Roberto Pereyra is a rare entity at Watford; a player that can produce something out of nothing in an otherwise industrious squad. He had a strong start to the season but needs to deliver on a more frequent basis to be considered a top player. His rating should stay at 79, although his involvement in the Argentina setup could force an improvement.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (OVR 81 – 81)
Position: CDM, CM
Of Watford’s squad, Abdoulaye Doucoure seems to be the most likely to one day get a move to a top Premier League side. Last term, he enjoyed another strong campaign, contributing five goals and six assists. He’s also a useful player to play with on Fifa, coupling strength and technical ability. Watford’s highest-rated player will either stay at 81 or possibly boosted to 82.
Etienne Capoue (OVR 77 – 80)
Position: CM, CDM
Etienne Capoue was Watford’s star turn last season and deservedly won their Player of the Season award. Capoue made the most interceptions in the Premier League and was in the top 10 for successful tackles. His and Doucoure’s midfield partnership is Watford’s best weapon and may well be the best outside the “big six.” As a result, Capoue should see his rating well boosted to 80.
Will Hughes (OVR 76 – 78)
Position: CM, RM, CAM
For a 24-year-old, it feels like Will Hughes has been around for a long time. This is because he has; he made his senior debut for Derby at the age of 16. Since moving to Watford, he has gone some way to fulfilling his undoubted potential and operates well as a tucked in winger. He should receive a two-point boost in Fifa 20.
Gerard Deulofeu (OVR 81 – 82)
Position: ST, RW, LW
Gerard Deulofeu is a player who seems to alternate between the memorable and forgettable. Fortunately, last season he produced more of the former, with a brace in the FA Cup semi-final and hat-trick against Cardiff amongst his highlights. Deulofeu should be increased to 82; if he can be slightly more consistent next season, it is certainly possible that he will be rated higher.
Troy Deeney (OVR 77 – 77)
At the age of 31, Troy Deeney is still the man for Watford. In many ways, he epitomises Watford’s no-nonsense style of play, and still comes up big when it matters, such as the winning penalty in the FA Cup semi-final. Still, after a slightly mediocre tally of nine goals last season, his rating should stay the same.
On the bench
Heurelho Gomes (OVR 77 – 75) will still be on the bench after bizarrely reversing his retirement in the wake of what was supposed to be an FA Cup final swansong.
At centre-back, Watford will have the experience of new signing Craig Dawson (OVR 75 – 75) to call upon, as well as Adrian Mariappa (OVR 74 – 76). They also have strong back-up options at wing-back with Daryl Janmaat (OVR 77 – 77) and Adam Masina (OVR 74 – 74).
Whether Tom Cleverley (OVR 76 – 76) can regain some of his early career form in the centre of midfield is something to keep an eye on. Nathaniel Chalobah (OVR 76 – 74) is another man on Watford’s bench to have once shown promise but has been unlucky with injuries. Ismaila Sarr (OVR 77 – 77) Watford’s record signing is a hot prospect for the Hornets.
In attack, Andre Gray (OVR 75 – 77) is a useful option that has been consistently reliable when called upon. They also have Isaac Success (OVR 73 – 73) who will be hoping to improve upon his meagre return of one Premier League goal last season. Danny Welbeck (78 – 76) ‘Dat Guy Welbz’ will now be rocking the yellow and black this season. he is likely to be a cup and rotation player for Watford.
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