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Matej Vydra is Championship Player of the Year, Almen Abdi is Watford’s Player of the Year

Last night Watford?s Matej Vydra won the Championship Player of the Year award at the Football League Awards. He beat Blackpool?s Tom Ince and Crystal Palace?s Glenn Murray to the coveted prize. It caps a season in which he and Watford have burst on to the scene in a big way. Vyrda has scored 20 [...]

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Last night Watford’s Matej Vydra won the Championship Player of the Year award at the Football League Awards. He beat Blackpool’s Tom Ince and Crystal Palace’s Glenn Murray to the coveted prize. It caps a season in which he and Watford have burst on to the scene in a big way. Vyrda has scored 20 goals so far this season and is the best pure finisher in the league. He is the main striker in the most potent attacking, particularly counter attacking, side in the league. The attacking returns have led the side up to 3rd and right in the mix of the promotion chase. He’s just 20 and this is his first year in England. So he’s fully deserving of the award right? Well, is he even Watford’s player of the year this season?

If you take a look at Watford’s ups and down this season, they all relate to the presence of another of the players brought in from big sister Udinese; Almen Abdi. Watford’s recent mini slump has coincided with Abdi’s absence from the first team due to injury. The same thing happened earlier in the season after Abdi dislocated his shoulder. When Watford were on their ‘golden’ run across Christmas and the New Year, it was with Abdi starting every game. Vydra has been in the team when the team has been in both good and bad form. The impact Abdi has on Watford is much more marked.

Abdi plays as the pivot point in Gianfranco Zola’s three man midfield which has been dominating possession and moving the ball around at great tempo. It’s Abdi who makes that happen. There has been a lot of positive press about his midfield partner Nathaniel Chalobah, and rightly so, but Chalobah has benefited immensely from playing alongside Abdi. Abdi is a man with Champions League experience with Udinese, and the effect he has had on Chalobah and his other young midfield accomplice Christian Battochio is immeasurable.

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The impact Abdi would have on Watford’s season was obvious in his first game for the club, an way win at Crystal Palace in which Vydra scored a last minute winner. Abdi was the best player on the pitch by quite some distance and was the man that sent Watford fans away purring at their new signing. After years of midfielders selected for their industry rather than quality, the way that Abdi imposes himself on every game he plays has been a joy for Watford fans to watch. He forces the team to stick to their passing principles and is the man his younger team mates look to for assurance if things aren’t going right. He just gets it down and starts the passing up again. No panic. No smashing it aimlessly forwards.

It’s not just his metronomic passing that has made him so vital. He works as hard as anyone and isn’t afraid to put his foot in and make tackles. He also has a great knack of intercepting the ball. He uses his positional intelligence to his great advantage and above all else this football awareness is his strongest suit. It defines the rest of his game. On top of that he’s also scored 10 league goals, an excellent return for a non-penalty taking central midfielder. These ten include some exquisite free kicks and critical winning goals. He’s only scored in only one defeat all season, his goals are crucial.

Abdi is a Premier League player operating in the Championship. If Watford go up this season signing Abdi must be their absolute priority. Vydra deserves his crown, but it’s Abdi that has made Watford tick this year.

Published with permission from maxclaytonrobb.

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