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Pundit’s Choice: Watford

Pundit’s Choice: Watford

Watford supporters have been reasonably downbeat in recent times after seeing their side suffer a second Premier League defeat of the season at the weekend.

Javi Gracia’s men went into their encounter with in-form Arsenal off the back of losing to Tottenham on penalties in the third round of the Carabao Cup a few days earlier, and thus seeking to bounce back at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday. And while they produced a spirited display, they were unable to do just that as a Mesut Ozil strike alongside a Craig Cathcart own goal sealed a 2-0 success for the Gunners, thus instigating Watford’s fall to sixth place in the Premier League table.

As such, there have been many disappointed Hornets fans up and down the country in recent times, although they are likely to be interested in recent comments from Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson, who has boldly claimed that Watford are ‘the most underrated team in the Premier League’.

And while some may disagree with the ex-Arsenal midfielder regarding his view, the Hornets’ early season form as well as their continued presence in the top-flight in recent years suggests that he is absolutely spot on.

Ultimately, the Hertfordshire-based outfit won promotion to the Premier League back in 2015 after finishing runners-up in the Championship, and as is often the case with newly-promoted sides, they were heavily tipped to go straight back down.

Yet they impressed to eventually finish 13th in the Premier League table in the 2015/16 season, and while they then slipped to 17th the following season under Walter Mazzarri, the finishing position looked a lot worse than how comfortable they actually were in terms of avoiding the drop.

And the appointment of Marco Silva little over 12 months ago was another step in the right direction, and although the Portuguese made a fine start and had Watford comfortably in the top half in the early stages of the campaign, a poor run saw him relieved of his duties, from which Gracia guided them to a 14th place finish.

Again though, they were one of those sides that some over the summer were tipping to go down, yet they appear to be a lot better than that and now an established Premier League team, winning each of their opening four league games, one of which against Tottenham, and playing well in defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal in recent weeks.

Thus, at this stage, there is no fear of the Hornets losing their Premier League status this term, and were they to do that it would be four straight seasons in the top tier, and arguably not one relegation battle in any of them – clearly, Merson has a point.

Yes, there are parallels this term with how they started last season under Silva before falling away, but Gracia has been in the job some time now and seems to have the team playing to the best of their abilities – ability which could see them finish best of the rest this term.

As such, given many have written Watford off over the years, with the constant changing of managers contributing to some people’s verdicts, their overall top-flight record in the last few years has been very impressive indeed – they are now comfortably a Premier League side.

And given how well they have played against some of the top teams in the country, both this season and even at times last term, Merson is absolutely right to suggest that they are ‘the most underrated team’ in England’s top tier.

Watford fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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