385
The Promoted

Who are the best FPL players in Watford’s mean defence?

Our series on the newly-promoted Premier League sides continues with this look at Watford’s goalkeepers and defenders.

We have already assessed Norwich City’s defence and their options further forward, with focus now switching to the Hornets. 

In this article, we will assess their overall clean sheet potential and then have a look at some of the key Fantasy Premier League (FPL) players in their backline.

WHAT IS WATFORD’S CLEAN SHEET POTENTIAL?    

Watford return to the Premier League as the Championship runners-up thanks largely to a strong defence that formed the foundation of their success.

Their totals of 23 clean sheets and 30 goals conceded were both league-leading and show how good the Hornets were at the back.

In fact, their goals conceded total equalled a Championship record set by Preston North End back in the 2005/06 season.

Watford’s home record especially stood out in 2020/21:

PWDLFAGDPTSCS
Total46271096330+339123
Home2319224412+325914
Away238871918+1329

The appointment of Xisco Muñoz as head coach in December was the turning point, as the Hornets went on to concede only three goals in 13 home matches under the Spaniard, claiming 11 clean sheets.

Having started in a 4-4-2 formation, from February onwards they settled on a 4-3-3 which relied on the full-backs overlapping and getting the wingers on the ball as much as possible.

“Sometimes you need to change because of different situations, like injuries. We started in 4-4-2 because we were improving our physical condition and this is a formation where you have more normal situations on the pitch. After this we changed to 4-3-3 and this is a formation the team feels more comfortable in. We had better condition, better power, better speed and higher intensity, and it was a big success – Xisco Muñoz

Watford start 2021/22 with an appealing run and sit top of our Season Ticker for ease of fixture in Gameweeks 1-7:

To get back into the Premier League at the first attempt following relegation in 2019/20 was no mean feat. 

And while the Championship and Premier League has a huge gulf in quality, the numbers above do suggest that there could be value in Watford’s backline next season.

GOALKEEPERS

In goal, Daniel Bachmann (£4.5m) appears to have moved ahead of Ben Foster (£4.0m) as Watford’s no. 1.

The Austrian international, who featured at EURO 2020, started the season as backup to Foster but was awarded a first league start in January and went on to keep the jersey thanks to some impressive showings. 

He made 23 starts and kept 13 clean sheets under Muñoz, which does suggest Foster will have to bide his time and wait for opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that Bachmann saved three penalties in a man-of-the-match Carabao Cup performance against Oxford United back in September, and kept out another against Rotherham earlier this year.

Third-choice will be former Newcastle United custodian Rob Elliot, who has earned himself a new contract but is yet to be added to the game.

DEFNDERS: CENTRE-BACKS

Francisco Sierralta (£4.5m) and William Troost-Ekong (£4.5m) played the majority of matches under Muñoz, and will presumably start the new campaign as first choices.

The duo largely performed well in 2020/21, keeping 12 clean sheets in the 19 games that they were paired together. 

Troost-Ekong is a regular in the Nigeria squad, but Sierralta, who is 6ft 4in, perhaps looks like the stronger option in FPL.

Like Bachmann, he’s had to be patient, but made his debut on Boxing Day and hasn’t looked back since. He finished third in Watford’s Player of the Season vote, which is especially impressive considering he only featured in half of the promotion-winning campaign, and ranked top amongst the Hornets’ backline for goal attempts (18). 

However, nine yellow cards in 26 appearances suggests he might need to reign it in a little in the top-flight.

Christian Kabasele (£4.5m) and Craig Cathcart (£4.5m) will aim to push them for starting places, while new signing Matthew Pollock (£4.0m) will also offer cover having signed from Grimsby Town on a five-year deal in May.

DEFENDERS: FULL-BACKS

Right-back Kiko Femenía (£4.5m) was his club’s standout defender in terms of attacking returns in 2020/21, with four assists in 37 outings. He also supplied 30 key passes, more than the rest of the Watford full-backs combined.

One of the Hornets’ strongest areas is their right wing, with Femenía and Ismaila Sarr (£6.0m) striking up a real understanding together. 

On the other flank, it’s hard to envisage Adam Masina (£4.5m) being dropped after his excellent performances last term. The Morocco-born left-back made 26 appearances and scored two goals, and was also named in the EFL Championship Team of the Season.

Above: Kiko Femenía (top) and Adam Masina’s (bottom) 2020/21 touch heatmaps, via Sofa Score

That suggests new signing Danny Rose (£4.5m) will have a tough time displacing him in the starting XI, and given that his last Premier League game was for Newcastle United in 2019/20, you suspect plenty of work needs to be done to get him first-team ready.

Jeremy Ngakia (£4.5m) made 26 appearances last season and provides an alternative to Femenía, while Spanish defender Marc Navarro (£4.0m), who can also play at centre-back, offers further depth.

Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles

Full-year memberships and monthly subscriptions are now available.

Join now to get the following:

  • Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
  • Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
  • Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
  • Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
  • Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
  • Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
  • Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
  • View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
  • Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.

ALREADY A USER? CLICK HERE TO UPGRADE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT

NEW TO SCOUT? CLICK HERE TO START A MEMBERSHIP ACCOUNT

avfc82 https://fantasy.premierleague.com/entry/818/history”

385 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Stupendous
    • 9 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    50m!!!

    I'm very close to being done with footy entirely

    1. KAPTAIN KANE
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I know I was saying this last night, it’s a joke

    2. Nomar
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Eh?

      1. Ginkapo FPL
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 10 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Ben White to Arsenal for £50M

        1. Nomar
          • 11 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Ah.

          It is what it is.

    3. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      It's Monopoly money. Means nothing.

  2. The Fantasy Doctor
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Thoughts on this draft. Value your opinions.

    Sanchez Foster
    TAA Digne Shaw Forfana Manquillo
    Salah Fernandes Raphinha Sarr Gilmour
    Watkins DCL Antonio

    1. 4Rsenal_1886
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Very strong!

    2. KAPTAIN KANE
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Template but good

    3. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Hard to fault!

    4. The Fantasy Doctor
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 2 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Thank you everyone!

  3. 4Rsenal_1886
    • 5 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Liking the look of this for GW1:

    Sanchez
    TAA Shaw Digne
    Salah Mahrez Jota Sarr
    Cavani DCL Watkins

    (Foster, Coufal, Brownhill, Ayling)

    1. Moxon
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 7 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Looking tasty mate.

      1. 4Rsenal_1886
        • 5 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Cheers buddy!

  4. KAPTAIN KANE
    • 4 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Not seen much love for Chris Wood, looks a bargain at 7.0 if I’m honest

    1. Ricky - it doesn't tak…
      • 10 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      He's does just a shame there's so many 8.0 and 7.5 forwards who look good options this season

    2. Nomar
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      If you like him then go for him. Forget what people on here say, it’s your team, so have the players you want and think will do well.

    3. Thomas Magnum
      • 6 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I like him as an option but think I would rather squeeze in a 7.5 forward because he's a traditionally hot and cold player and I don't want to be caught in a cold spell

      1. Nomar
        • 11 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Pretty much all strikers get that at some stage, though.

        1. Thomas Magnum
          • 6 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Olympics to consider as well. But you are right, it happens to everyone. I remember it happened with Watkins last season as well but for Wood I specifically remember it being true more than other players for some reason

    4. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Not a bad option but bargain seems a stretch, correctly priced for me.

  5. Ricky - it doesn't tak…
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Thoughts please

    Foster // bachman

    Taa // digne // fofana // white // 4.0

    Salah // de brunye // Maddison // raphina // bisouma

    Cavani // Watkins // toney

    0.0m itb

    1. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I want to go with KDB (subject to injury news) but with likely huge Bruno EO, just feels too risky. With tougher City fixtures at start also, I think I will chicken out and default to Bruno.

  6. Moxon
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 7 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Sanchez
    TAA Shaw Lamptey
    Salah Bruno Mahrez Raph Buendia
    Nacho Toney

    4 Fofana Ayling 4.5

    Some sexy picks in there might even stretch to Jota if I can manage it.

    1. Ricky - it doesn't tak…
      • 10 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Want jots myself but he will be rotated

    2. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Not bad!

  7. Ricky - it doesn't tak…
    • 10 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Anyone else looking at doing Watkins > Jimenez after gw3 ?

    1. shapply
      • 8 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I'm not thinking about it now as he was out for a long time, but maybe I'll take a second look after gw3

    2. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I'd want to take a close look at how Jimi fares after such a long lay-off.

    3. Nomar
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Not got him, but if Wolves click then he’s a good option.

      I like Ait Nourri, if he starts, which he should since Jonny is out till November, as he can do well in Lage’s system.

      1. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        I'm very interested in wingbacks at Wolves, Watford and Spurs. All either new to PL or under new management, so I'm not having them GW1.

        1. Nomar
          • 11 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          Yes, correct, but we’ll know enough about them from GW4 on to decide which ones are worth a gamble on.

      2. Ricky - it doesn't tak…
        • 10 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Yer was looking at him as well. Marcal shouldn't really threaten him should he? Even semedo if Lage is really offensive with their style of play

    4. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Too many unknowns with his injury and new manager, players left etc. If he comes flying out the ranks maybe, but suspect we'll need a longer period to know if the old Jimi value is still there.

  8. shapply
    • 8 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Am I the only one tempted by Harrison? He is 0.5 cheaper than Raphinha.

    1. Andy_Social
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 9 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I'd be slightly concerned that Firpo at left wingback steals some of Harrison's thunder. Would want to monitor first.

    2. Nomar
      • 11 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I was, but Raphina has the potential to make an absolute mockery of his £6.5m price tag.

      In that Leeds team and with a full season in front of him now that he’s integrated into the prem he could get 175+ points easily.

      Can’t see Harrison getting there, or any other 6.5 to be honest with you.

    3. Krapgame
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      I have them both to start the season, couldn't say no to Harrisons price v last seasons points. May trade one for Harvey Barnes if he hits pre injury form this season...

    4. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      In isolation Harrision is a great pick at the price, but Raphina ceiling seems huge. Everytime I watched him last season he felt like he could haul, poor Bamford finishing was normally at fault.

  9. Admiral Benson
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 1 Year
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Really struggling with the last midfield spot. So much rotation likely. Who would you go for with £8m ITB? Thanks gents.

    Sanchez (Foster)
    TAA, Shaw, Tierney (Ayling, Manquillo)
    Salah, Bruno, _______, Raph, Sarr
    Watkins, Antonio (Obafemi)

    1. Admiral Benson
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 1 Year
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Correction - £8.5m ITB

    2. mentaculus
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Barnes or foden/torres given that you dont have any Lei / Mci..? Barnes prob safer given your lack of bench options. Or mount if you dont mind chelsea's tough early fixtures?

    3. St Pauli Walnuts
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 3 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Greal if at Villa still. Also why not switch to 3 up front? It would allow you an extra sub given you possibly only have one at the moment plus you have two injury prone players in Tierney and Antonio.

  10. shapply
    • 8 Years
    2 months, 9 days ago

    so Kelly (4.0) starts today for Palace

    1. Skonto Rigga
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • Has Moderation Rights
      • 4 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Steve Parish can't be far from an appearance with their player shortage

      1. St Pauli Walnuts
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Simon Jordan on loan

      2. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Maybe get Roy in for a Stanley Matthews cameo

    2. FPL Virgin
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      Feel like I'm missing out on so much preseason information. FFS have just chucked a massive clunky spreadsheet at us and are not keeping us properly updated on the matches that are going on.

      1. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Can't see any info being of any relevance at this stage myself.

      2. Skonto Rigga
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • Has Moderation Rights
        • 4 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        Eh? We're writing Scout Notes on literally every pre-season game.

        1. Maximus Bonimus Pointimus
          • 11 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          😆

          You know the way you mentioned “silly people” earlier…

        2. FPL Virgin
          • Fantasy Football Scout Member
          • 5 Years
          2 months, 9 days ago

          I had no idea Palace were playing today. I keep seeing random premier league teamsheets popping up on Ben Dinnerys twitter feed. I feel out of the loop and not properly briefed about what's going on in preseason even though I read every ffs article. That's just how I feel sorry.

  11. Ooh Ah Cantona
    2 months, 9 days ago

    Ngakia is 4.5 not 4.0

    1. FPL Virgin
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 5 Years
      2 months, 9 days ago

      That's a bad mistake. Having both Kiko Fermenia and Jeremy Ngakia at £4.0m would have guaranteed you a starting defender for just £8.5m.

      1. Andy_Social
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 9 Years
        2 months, 9 days ago

        I would have gone for that from the outset. As it is, I'll start by monitoring the Watford wingback situation.

  12. prichardson311
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 4 Years
    1 month, 13 days ago

    Who has better upside Kiko or Mesina?