Watford only accrued nine points from their last 12 Premier League matches of 2015/16, so the first task for new head coach, Walter Mazzarri, will be to improve on the poor form that affected their run-in.
A long time advocate of the 3-5-2 formation, I expect the Italian to get his players super-fit and extremely well drilled in that shape.
This may help the Hornets pinch more points against the division’s leading lights than under Mazzarri’s predecessor, Quique Sanchez Flores.
Had Watford not amassed an average of two points per match against the sides who finished below them, avoiding relegation would have been unlikely.
Watford’s PL record against top five in 2015/16
|Leicester||Lost 0-1||Lost 2-1|
|Arsenal||Lost 0-3||Lost 4-0|
|Spurs||Lost 1-2||Lost 1-0|
|Man City||Lost 1-2||Lost 2-0|
|Man Utd||Lost 1-2||Lost 1-0|
To make a back three function successfully it is best to have athletic defenders flanking the central player.
Christian Kabasele, the Belgium international who recently signed from Genk, fits the bill. Watford lacked speed at the back last term, so Mazzarri may recruit another.
In attack the arrivals of Jerome Sinclair and Isaac Success have confirmed the need for Watford to spread the goals around this term.
Only six players other than Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney scored last season, and, tellingly, none contributed more than twice.
Watford's wing-backs will have a pivotal role to play too. So it would be no surprise to see newcomers in those positions.
Chelsea, Sunderland and Stoke City were the only teams who produced fewer successful crosses in 2015/16, which given the penalty-box prowess of Ighalo and Deeney, is a real waste.
Under Flores, Watford didn't counter-attack as consistently well as they might have done. With a new head coach noted for playing in that style, expect Watford to look a little different in the months ahead.
It could be tricky for Mazzarri to get off to a blistering start. Vicarage Road hosts Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in Watford's first three home matches, while trips to Southampton and West Ham United do not look a great deal easier.
Watford's opening PL fixtures
|MW4||West Ham (a)|
|MW5||Man Utd (h)|
If they do not take a big scalp or two, a kinder-looking October schedule for Watford will take on huge significance.