Meet the opposition | Watford

4th October 2022
First team
Watford

As Swansea City prepare to visit Vicarage Road to take on Watford, we look at the history, form and the key figures for the Hornets. 

What's their story? 

Established in 1881 as Watford Rovers, the club changed name to its current moniker in 1898. 

Affectionately known as the Hornets, Watford gained Football League status in 1920, and after spending 60 years in the lower divisions, the Hornets gained promotion to the top-flight for the first time in 1982.  

Under the ownership of Elton John and management of Graham Taylor the club finished as runners-up to Liverpool in that maiden First Division campaign. 

In a golden era for the club they spent six seasons in the top-flight, and reached the FA Cup final in 1984. 

Recent times have seen Watford compete in the Premier League in six out of the last seven seasons, but it has been a period of regular managerial upheaval with the Hornets going through 17 managers in the last 10 years. 

The latest change happened during the international break, with Slaven Bilic the man tasked with leading them back to the Premier League following relegation last term. 

 How's their form? 

Hamza Choudhury

A mixed bag. Watford’s results mirror a team in transition given there have been 14 new arrivals at Vicarage Road. 

Impressive home victories over Championship favorites Sheffield United and Burnley started the season with optimism, but five draws in the opening 10 games and a winless September have slightly derailed their early momentum. 

However, they started October with an emphatic 4-0 win at Stoke on Sunday.

Who’s the gaffer? 

West Brom Slaven Bilic

Slaven Bilic. The former Croatia, West Ham United, Everton and West Bromwich Albion defender is the latest man to take the hotseat at Vicarage Road following the dismissal of Rob Edwards after just 10 league games in charge. 

Bilic returns to the English football pyramid after a stint as head coach of Chinese Super League side Bejing Guoan, who he parted company with in January. 

Boasting a CV with experience in five different countries over 20 years, the Hornets board will be hoping the 54-year-old former can emulate his successful Championship promotion campaign with West Brom in 2020. 

Who's the captain? 

Tom Cleverley

Experienced ex Manchester United and England midfielder Tom Cleverly was named the new captain for the current season by Rob Edwards in the summer. A player with a wealth of Premier League experience at the likes of Wigan, Aston Villa and Everton, Cleverley has been at Vicarage Road since an £8 million move from the Toffees in 2017, appearing in 136 games, scoring eight times in the process. 

Alongside his 13 international caps for the three lions, Cleverley was also part of Great Britain's Olympic squad in 2012. 

Who are the key men? 

 

Joao Pedro

One of the best pieces of business the Hornets managed in the transfer window was keeping hold of Senegalese international Ismaila Sarr from the admiring eyes of Premier League Aston Villa and West Ham.  

A creative force on the right-hand side of Watford's attack, Sarr offers both a goal threat and a regular supply to his striking partners, demonstrated in his early season form of three goals and the same number of assists in his seven appearances so far this campaign. A £30 million signing from Rennes in 2019, the fans' favourite has 26 goals in 96 appearances for the Hornets. 

Much like Sarr, Brazilian youngster João Pedro was also well courted prior to the end of the transfer window, with both Everton and Newcastle seeing multi-million-pound bids rejected for the ex-Fluminense man. The striker's directness and ability to cause opposition defenses problems with his pace and movement has seen him contribute to two goals and two assists in the opening period of the season. 

High octane left-sided Ivory Coast international defender Hassane Kamara is an important part of the Hornets backline with his lung-busting displays earning him the Hornets player of the season award for the 2021-22 campaign, despite only joining in January. He interestingly joined Serie A side Udinese in the summer, only to be immediately loaned back to Watford for the 2022-23 season. 

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