closing weekend Watford picked up their third prefer in three, earning their manager a considerable honour as F365’s Early Winner. observe the link and you’ll see justified praise for the side’s stability, resilience and tactical set-up. Now it’s time to move just a little deeper, and see exactly how the Hornets have stung their strategy to a place above Manchester metropolis, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton, and a bunch of different sides anticipated to finish ahead of them.

in case you’ve heard lots about Watford these past few weeks, it’s been Roberto Pereyra running wild, Will Hughes scoring from distance, and Troy Deeney taking part in like a a whole lot more youthful man. And certainly the attackers have been a huge a part of the Hornets’ early success. Seven desires in three video games; handiest Manchester metropolis, Spurs, and Chelsea have scored extra.

but the larger sage with Watford is the defence. They’ve conceded just twice thus far, a checklist bettered best by Liverpool. And whereas Ben Foster has been taking part in like a more youthful man as neatly, this isn’t a leaky defence saved by using a scorching keeper; Watford have allowed the 2nd fewest photographs within the league. They’ve handiest allowed six pictures on course, complete. I’ve checked two distinct expected dreams against measurements: in each they inferior 2nd, at the back of only the men at Anfield. That’s excessive-stage protecting performance.

So what’s happening? if you seem at the returned line, you see basically journeymen. At left-lower back is José Holebas, who’s 34, and has at all times been superior primary for attacking and set-pieces. At appropriate-returned is Daryl Janmaat, 29, who under no circumstances reached his expertise and whom Geordies will indicate isn’t reasonably the best defender. It receives a bit stronger with centre-half Craig Cathcart, additionally 29, a lower-league veteran whose one pre-Watford stint in the Premier League resulted in relegation with Blackpool. He’s grown into the video game at this stage, and however no longer an elite defender, is strong and dependable.

first rate aspect too, since the fourth man is centre-half Christian Kabasele. He’s a major-age 27, signed three years in the past from Genk in Belgium, with whom he qualified for the Europa League. I’ve written some about his style within the crew of the Week function, most recently this Tuesday. He will also be in fact excellent one minute and not-so-dazzling the next, and besides the fact that children he’s now a fixture within the side he has yet to shine invariably. if in case you have the video of Sunday’s suit with Crystal Palace, you’ll see him in the main at his finest, protecting huge areas of floor to position in dramatic tackles.

but one skills star doesn’t a desirable defence make. Nor, if you study imperative midfield, do you see any person corresponding to N’Golo Kanté, or even Nemanja Matic. Etienne Capoue makes his share of tackles, but isn’t a expert holding midfielder like Valon Behrami. and then there’s Abdoulaye Doucouré, who likes nothing improved than charging forward to be a part of the attack, or once in a while simply charging ahead.

So what’s the key? One notice: urgent. The Hornets now and again press excessive, once in a while of their own half, and barely sit again. They’re second in interceptions and tied for third in tackles, and everything begins from the entrance. Hughes leads the entire league in tacklesninety, remarkable for an attacking player. Troy Deeney is third in tacklesninety amongst normal starting strikers. Farther back, Capoue’s tackles90 are at a career high. Pereyra’s interceptionsninety are more than twice his old excessive.

as a result, the again line – journeymen or wild men or anything – is well included. And on the rare occasions that it’s breached, Foster has been correct where he mandatory to be. He’s made a couple of excellent stops, and has seemed assured coming for crosses. Watford’s shielding numbers may additionally now not dwell marvelous all season, however they have a helpful appropriate-flight keeper backing them up.

What about the attack, then? Javi Gracia’s formation has been variously described as a typical 4-4-2 and a slender four-2-2-2. basically, it’s a bit bit of each, since the gadget is designed to maximise the different attacking potential of the wingers. Hughes, playing from the appropriate, stays slim. He’s a inventive brief passer, and his positioning keeps him nearer to the rest of the attackers. Pereyra, on the left, begins broad. He’s a Richarlison class, each a dribbler and passer, who generally comes inside with the ball however can go to the line as neatly.