Premier League 2018/19: What changes has Javi Gracia made to his Watford side?
One of the biggest revelations this season is the rise of a much underestimated Watford side. With the likes of Jose Holebas, Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra leaving their mark on the footballing world, the Hornets have delivered the most spectacular element of the sport, - something that not even the top teams had expected. Of course, none of this came out from nothing; regular planning, pre-season friendlies, tactical reshuffling and many other important considerations have contributed to their success.
By defeating Tottenham Hotspur, Watford has now made themselves a team that one needs to be careful of. But what has Javi Garcia truly done to his team? What has he changed and what has he kept? What is the reason behind their most successful Premier League result?
Also Read: 5 picks for the manager of the month award.
Javi Garcia is a very experienced manager, having played more than 300 games in the Spanish league. Laying down some of the most unorthodox forms of tactical necessities, the Spaniard has revolutionised the new form of football in the Premier League.
Playing an unusual 4-2-2-2 formations in a league like the EPL was considered by many as a 'gamble', however, the bid worked well for Garcia, as Watford currently stand third in the league.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue are the two holding midfielders, who are the natural deep-lying playmakers for their teams, adding width and filling out the gaps for both Roberto Pereyra and Will Hughes, as the two further circulate the ball to their strikers Deeny and Gray.
This duo-triplet style of playing isn't something you'd use against the big teams, as the spaces are way too much for the opposition to cover. This is where Jose Holebas and Daryl Janmaat come into the picture. By being the regular full-backs, their responsibility is to take care of the gaps formed in the outfield, as they look to be ahead of the lines.
Another important inclusion is the use of the 'aerial abilities'; what that truly means is that the players make use of everything, from set-pieces to crosses, delivering and capitalising on each and every attack that they put forward. With Holebas and Hughes delivering top-quality crosses, Watford has always been able to score from above, as it was evident against the Spurs.
We already spoke about how good of a tactician Javi Garcia can be, and given the fact that his players have stepped out of their comfort zones and played a free-flow, flexible style of counter-attacking football, Watford is a team you need to watch out for.
His choice of players has led to a lot of questions. The fact that he plays two strikers at the same time has actually given him a reason to believe in this particular theory. With Troy Deeney being the ultimate powerhouse, Gray to has been a useful asset in terms of being a target man for his squad.
Will Hughes on the other hand, deploys himself as a central midfielder in the form of a 'Regista', who makes the plays for the forwards and his fellow box-to-box midfielder Roberto Pereyra, who again is a maestro in leading the counter attacks for his team. With the inclusion of Jose Holebas and Craig Cathcart in the team, the Spaniard has made sure that his defence is on point and subtle.
Also Read: Top 5 midfield trios of the current season
Given the fact the Hornets are in inexplicable form, Watford now hold the platform as being the underdogs who can do something 'wonderful'. Like we saw with Leicester City almost two years ago, they too hold the chance to be the contenders for the title race. With a manager who believes in himself and his own team, this Watford side can prove to be one of the most feared and successful legions of the modern era.
Of course, it won't be easy for Javi Garcia to put all the pieces of the puzzle, but he is certainly the kind of manager who has a plan for his team. In terms of who's next? The Hornets go up against a thriving Manchester United side, who again have a point to prove.