Tactically speaking - Watford

Whufc.com takes an in-depth look at how Watford might approach Saturday’s visit of the in-form Hammers
Watford have been exactly what any newly-promoted Barclays Premier League side would aspire to be – solid, hard-working and difficult to beat.

In ten Premier League matches since securing promotion as Championship runners-up – new manager Quique Sanchez Flores’ first league matches in charge of the Hornets, to boot – Watford have conceded just ten goals and lost just three times.

With 13 points in the bank already, the club which boasts Elton John as honorary life president is already a third of the way down the yellow brick road to safety.

Watford’s new rocket man is undoubtedly manager Flores, who has arrived in Hertfordshire with an outstanding pedigree, having won the UEFA Europa League with Atletico Madrid and the Portuguese title with Benfica.

The 50-year-old former Spain international and godson of Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano has instilled a calm confidence that should have been difficult to establish in a club which has a large and cosmopolitan squad of players, many of whom have been with the club for only a short period.

Tactically, Sanchez Flores has set his Watford side up to be compact and resolute, playing with a conservative 4-4-1-1 formation anchored by two deep-lying midfielders.

Up front, Troy Deeney has reverted from Championship goal machine to a more defensively-minded deep striker, who drops into midfield when Watford do not have possession. Deeney and strike partner Odion Ighalo work hard to stop their opponents playing out from the back and into midfield, either pressing their defenders or screening their own central midfielders to close down passing lanes.

Watford’s secret weapon this term has been Nigeria striker Ighalo, who has scored five times in ten appearances in the league, using his pace and elusiveness to get in behind and finish.

In midfield, Watford possess pace in the wide areas in Swiss left winger Almen Abdi and Scotland flyer Ikechi Anya, who belts up and down the right flank with great speed and directness. When they are not running at their full-backs, both may also look to lift balls over the top for Ighalo to latch onto.

Ighalo’s partnership with Deeney will often see him and his wingers racing onto flick-ons from the big centre forward, or being brought into play if Deeney could hold the ball up himself.

At the back, Watford do not knock the ball around quite as much as some of their more-established Premier League rivals, instead getting it forward quickly towards Deeney.

If they do clear long, it will most likely come from the left foot of Uruguayan Miguel Britos, who will most likely be partnered by former Blackpool man Craig Cathcart – part of the Tangerines squad for the 2012 Championship Play-Off final defeat by the Hammers.

In goal, Brazilian Heurelho Gomes loves to come for high balls and launch his team on the attack as quickly as possible. Gomes’ long throws out from his own penalty area will be a regular sight at Vicarage Road, that’s for sure.

Possible team: Gomes, Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake, Capoue, Watson, Abdi, Anya, Deeney, Ighalo