Published by Alex Blair, 4 September on foxsports.com.au
PREMIER League underdog Watford is seriously punching above its weight this year and if you’ll believe these footballing super-sleuths, it might be a good time to plonk some money on the club for a championship.
After kicking off the season with an undefeated four-game streak, Watford has placed itself above defending champions Manchester City on the table in third. Naturally, it didn’t long for fans to unearth a spooky coincidence between the Hertfordshire side and iconic sporting underdogs Leicester City.
In 2015/16, Leicester became one of the greatest underdog stories in history after overcoming 5000-1 odds to steal the season’s crown from EPL heavyweights Arsenal.
In the season before, Leicester finished the season at 14th on the table with 41 points and a record of 11 wins, eight draws and 19 defeats.
Guess what Watford’s record was last year? That’s right, exactly the same: 11 wins, eight draws and 19 defeats.
Still not convinced?
Four games into the 2018/19 season, Watford sits well above where Leicester City was at the same time three years ago. The 2015 underdogs, while still placed second, drew their third and fourth games to sit at eight points,
Watford, of course, remains undefeated with 12.
While it may be a little early to make bold predictions on a season wrapping up in over eight months, spookier things have happened in sport in recent years.
Even after Watford’s sensational star to the year, online bookmakers Ladbrokes don’t have much faith in their chances at lifting the cup this year, placing them at $201 odds behind Manchester United and Arsenal ($41).
Manchester City sits firmly as the season’s favourite at $1.62 odds.
Watford came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Tottenham at Vicarage Road over the weekend.
The Hornets join Liverpool and Chelsea with a maximum total of 12 points at the top of the table.
Arsenal, meanwhile, joined United on six points as they secured a first away victory under Unai Emery with an entertaining 3-2 win at promoted Cardiff. The only dramas for United as they kept a clean sheet for the first time this campaign concerned Pogba’s penalty miss and Rashford’s red card but Mourinho wasn’t critical of either.
After Rashford was fouled in the box, Pogba — who has already scored two penalties this season — had his spot kick saved.
“I never blame a player for missing penalties,” Mourinho told BBC Sport. “I blame the ones who refuse to go up there. Paul’s scored some good ones for us.” Rashford saw red when he reacted to an incident involving Burnley defender Phil Bardsley by pushing his forehead into the former United players’ face.
“I would say it was naive,” Mourinho said. “It was a kid and a very experienced man. Bardsley’s been in the game for 20 years and Marcus is a naive boy.” The home win for Javi Gracia’s Watford was made all the more impressive due to Spurs taking the lead shortly after halftime, as Abdoulaye Doucoure found his own net as he attempted to clear Lucas Moura’s cross.
The usually reliable Spurs defence was undone in the simplest fashion with Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart both heading in set pieces in the space of seven minutes to turn the match around.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette both started for Arsenal and Emery was rewarded with both scoring at Cardiff City Stadium. Shkodran Mustafi gave the Gunners an early lead before Victor Camarasa levelled with Cardiff’s first goal of the season in first-half stoppage time. Aubameyang restored Arsenal’s lead, courtesy of a Lacazette assist, however, the hosts responded through Danny Ward to equalise with 20 minutes remaining. Not to be denied, the inspired Lacazette hit an unstoppable effort in at the near post with nine minutes remaining to finally see off Cardiff.