Following the release of the Premier League fixtures last month, every team were provided with a sample of what is to come for their club. Watford were impressive in their first season in the top tier since their promotion in 2014, finishing in 13th place and well away from the risk of relegation.
The Hornets' recent change in manager saw the man behind last season’s magic, Quique Sanchez Flores, depart the club, as former Inter Milan manager Walter Mazzarri was appointed as the man to take Watford forward. Can the Italian take Watford to new heights in the Premier League?
A fast start is essential
Watford start the season in a less favourable manor; their first game of the season being an away trip to Southampton, followed by two challenging home games. The Hornets’ first home game of the season comes against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, followed by Arsene Wengers’ Arsenal in a double smack of London supremacy.
Unfortunately for Watford, September won’t get any easier, as they face a trip to East London to face West Ham, followed by hosting Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United at Vicarage Road. The end of the month marks a slight ease of pressure in opponents, as the Hornets face away trips to Burnley, Middlesbrough and Swansea City. They welcome Bournemouth and Hull City to Watford throughout the month of October.
The pressure returns in November, as Walter Mazzarri marches his team to Merseyside as Watford take on Liverpool in the hostile atmosphere of Anfield. A week later, the Hornet’s welcome the Champions of England, Leicester City to Vicarage Road to battle it out for three points. A home visit from Stoke City concludes a tough run of November fixtures.
A cold, cold winter
December is regularly the month that can make or break a season, as well as determining the success and direction of a team. December is a month packed full of fixtures, gruelling for players and smaller clubs as squad rotation becomes key to getting results.
Watford will play three games in eleven days at the beginning of the month; an away trip to West Brom, a new-look Everton at home, and then a nerve testing trip to the Etihad Stadium to battle with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Prior to the Hornets’ boxing day clash with Crystal Palace, Watford will travel to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland. Vicarage Road will play host to Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of December, however, the thick and fast fixtures don’t end there, as two days later comes a trip to Stoke to battle for ninety minutes with The Potters.
New year judgement
As games return to their natural placement of once a week, Watford will play Middlesbrough and Bournemouth before making the short journey across the capital to face Arsenal in North London.
The return fixture against newly promoted Burnley marks the month of February, and the start of another uphill run in of fixtures for Watford.
A trip to Old Trafford followed by a visit from West Ham dto raw a line under the month of February. However, a home visit from Southampton and away trips to the militant atmospheres of Stamford Bridge and Selhurst Park keep the pressure on Mazzarri’s team.
Like December, April presents Watford with six fixtures, including an away match at White Hart Lane, and a home visit from Liverpool; can the Hornet’s dominate the reds at home once again? April’s other opponents include: Sunderland, West Brom, Swansea and Hull City.
The season comes to a close
The curtain on the Premier League season is drawn in May, in which Watford will learn their fate. Away visits to the current Champions and Ronald Koeman’s Everton open the final month, Watford’s season will be concluded in front of their home fans, as they welcome Manchester City.
The Premier League is not an ‘easy’ league for anyone to deal with, excluding Arsenal’s 2004 invincibles of course. For Watford, it would seem on paper that the direction of their season could be decided within the first two months, as testing fixtures infused with the less pressurising could provide a small sample of what to expect from Mazzarri’s Hornet’s as they open their season at full pace.