In this blog, FPL draft Hub will walk you through Watford key players, signings and tactics throughout preseason, direct from the clubs match reports to guide your Fantasy Premierleague Draft picks on Draft Day.
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Ajax 2-1 Watford
At the foot of the Austrian mountains, the Hornets began their ascent towards peak fitness and match sharpness with a defeat by the odd goal at the hands of Ajax.
The decorated Dutch side fielded five players who came within a whisker of reaching the Champions League final and yet the Hornets largely went toe-to-toe with them in what must rank as the highest-profile opening friendly the club has ever played.
Andre Gray put the Golden Boys in front towards the end of the first half with a penalty only for Donny van de Beek to equalise not long after half-time. Jurriën Timber won it for the Eredivisie champions at the death, but results at this embryonic stage of the campaign are largely irrelevant.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Watford
Goalscorers: Gray, Gray
Andre Gray will be able to head into the season on the back of goals against the Champions League semi-finalists and a top four Bundesliga side after he made it two in two in the impressive win over Bayer Leverkusen this afternoon.
The club-record signing got one from the spot after starting against Ajax on Thursday and here got one off the bench, showing he is a versatile striker for all situations and a terrific weapon for Head Coach Javi Gracia.
Whereas he got the first a couple of days ago, only to see Ajax cancel that goal out with two in the second half, he got the killer second here on the banks of Lake Zell. If the Hornets had not played a higher profile first friendly than they did against Ajax the other night then they surely hadn’t fielded a side at a more picturesque venue than this.
QPR 0-1 Watford
Different season but it was the same old story for Étienne Capoue at Loftus Road today.
The Frenchman broke The Rs hearts with an FA Cup winner here in February and he was at it again this afternoon at the same end. Obviously, a goal in a friendly here is loose change compared to a strike that sends you into the quarter-final of the most famous cup competition in the world, but what it does show is the laconic midfielder is not picking and choosing.
He tried to caress the ball into the far corner after half-an-hour of this lively friendly, like he did in the cup tie, but it took a wicked deflection off Ryan Manning and gave Joe Lumley no chance in the QPR goal, completely wrong-footing the goalkeeper. Capoue didn’t celebrate, as he knew it was only a friendly and that it was more than a touch fortuitous, but he will be quietly pleased that he was in the position to have a strike at goal and that he is sort of off the mark this season.
Watford 2-1 Real Sociedad
3rd August 2019
Goalsorers: Gray, Gray
The Hornets were very much second best in the first half and really struggled to get a foothold in the game. It looked like being a tough afternoon had things continued in that vein. But whatever Gracia said at the break, and it’s likely to have been based around being more demanding and more compact, it did the trick as the home side looked a different proposition in the second period.
Like a Graham Taylor side, they fought their way back into things on a matchday to honour the club’s greatest ever manager with a bit of roll-your-sleeves up type football and levelled the match with a goal from Andre Gray at the start of the second period and one at the end to post a victory that shouldn’t be sniffed at. That’s now three wins out of four this summer and four goals for Gray. He can’t have done anymore to convince Gracia that he should partner Troy Deeney against the Seagulls on Saturday.