Nigel Pearson’s arrival at Watford has triggered a much-needed resurgence at Vicarage Road – but can Fantasy Premier League managers trust their assets just yet?
The former Leicester City manager has been in charge of the Hornets for a month now, which is more than enough time for us to assess the impact he has had.
We will go over recent matches to find out, as a result, whether or not there are any viable options to invest in for Fantasy managers.
As this article uses data from the Fantasy Football Scout Members Area, only those who are signed up either on a season-long or monthly Membership can access it in full.
What has Pearson changed?
After experiments with a three-man back-line under Quique Sanchez Flores, Pearson has lined up Watford in a 4-2-3-1 formation in every match so far.
Following his return from injury, Troy Deeney (£6.2m) is leading the line again while Gerard Deulofeu (£6.1m) and Ismaïla Sarr (£6.2m) have most often chosen to flank the attacking midfield either side of Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.6m).
At the back, Kiko Femenía (£4.2m) has started every match at left-back with Craig Cathcart (£4.3m) and Christian Kabasele (£4.3m) the preferred options in central defence, although the latter is now suspended for Gameweek 22 following a Gameweek 21 sending off, his second of the season.
The right-back spot has been less settled, especially with Daryl Janmaat (£4.1m) out injured. In his absence, Adrian Mariappa (£4.2m) has largely deputised although his Gameweek 20 sending off saw Craig Dawson (£4.8m) feature there last time.
Crucially, these team selection decisions have helped Watford drastically improve their fortunes from Gameweek 17 onwards, when Pearson took charge of his first game.
During the last five Gameweeks, they have won all three home games, against Manchester United, Aston Villa and Wolves, proving that they can arguably record a positive result against a range of different teams.
The Hornets only scored nine goals in the first 16 matches of the 2019/20 campaign, a period which saw them managed by three different men, Javi Gracia, Flores and Hayden Mullins.
By contrast, in the last five matches, Pearson’s men have found the net eight times, a drastic improvement.
Assists between the two periods have also risen, from four to five – and from 0.2 per game to 1.0.
The defence has improved too. Goals conceded per game has halved from 1.9 to 0.8 while clean sheets per game have doubled from 0.2 to 0.4.
While the results have been impressive, the question is whether or not they are sustainable – which is where the underlying statistics come in.
In order to do this, we have run comparisons between the first 16 Gameweeks of the season against Gameweeks 17 to 21.