Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Watford


After a second place finish in the Championship last season, Watford is back in the Premier League for just the third time in club history. Unfortunately, in the Hornets’ previous two PL campaigns (1999-00, 2006-07), the club finished in dead last and was sent immediately back to the second tier.

[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]

This time around, the Hornets will look to avoid relegation and stay in the top flight, and they’ve been making moves this summer. Quique Flores was named manager in June, and the club has brought in plenty of talent in the transfer window, including the signing of Etienne Capoue from Tottenham Hotspur for a club record transfer fee.

Watford’s biggest fan is Sir Elton John, who had two stints as club chairman and is now an Honorary Life President at Vicarage Road. The Hornets have a long-standing rivalry with League Two’s Luton Town, but in the Premier League their closest rivals will be the London clubs.

Best possible XI:

— Gomes —

— Nyom — Prodl — Cathcart — Holebas —

— Capoue — Behrami —

— Abdi — Ighalo — Jurado —

— Deeney —

Transfers in: Allan Nyom (Free, Udinese), Sebastian Prodl (Free, Werder Bremen), Etienne Capoue ($10 million, Tottenham), Steven Berghuis ($7 million, AZ Alkmaar), Valon Behrami ($4 million, Hamburg), Jose Manuel Jurado ($9.5 million, Spartak Moscow), Jose Holebas ($2.75 million, Roma), Miguel Britos (Free, Napoli), Giedrius Arlauskis (Free, Steaua Bucuresti)

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club ]

Transfers out: Jonathan Bond (Undisclosed, Reading), Uche Ikpeazu (Loan, Port Vale), Lewis McGugan ($475,000, Sheffield Wednesday)

Troy Deeney will be to go-to guy for Watford once again this season.

Last season: Second in the Championship –Watford finished with the most wins in the Championship, but ended the season a point behind Bournemouth for the top spot. However, this is a much different team than last year, as the Hornets have brought in a handful of new summer signings as well as a new manager. Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo combined for 41 goals last season, which accounted for nearly half of the team’s total offense.

Star player: Troy Deeney — Deeney is the club’s captain and leading goalscorer, having tallied at least 20 goals in each of the past three seasons, the first player to do so in Watford history. The striker had a few Premier League teams looking to buy his services this summer, but he penned a new five-year deal to stay at Vicarage Road. The 27-year-old has worked his way up the ranks of English football, and he will have to continue his goalscoring ways if Watford is to have a shot at avoiding relegation.

Quique Flores is entering his first season in charge at Watford.

Coaches’ Corner: Quique Flores became Watford’s fifth manager in a year when he replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in June. Jokanovic had earned the Hornets Premier League promotion, but left the club after the two sides failed to work out a new contract. Flores comes in after a short stint at Spanish side Getafe, and has no experience managing in England. However, he led Atletico Madrid to a Europa League title in 2010, so he does know how to win on the big stage.

PST predicts: It’s going to be a tall order for Watford to survive in the Premier League, but the Hornets could be one of the surprise stories of the season. With a new manager and so many new players, it’s hard to get a read on how they’ll perform in the most competitive league in the world. The Hornets will likely be hovering around the relegation zone, but this could be the year they survive the drop.

On This Day: Bornstein becomes national hero – in Honduras

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You know what today is? It’s Jonathan Bornstein day in Honduras.

Ten years ago today at RFK Stadium in our nations capital, a young, hot-shot kid with plenty of hair named Michael Bradley and Bornstein helped the U.S. Men’s National Team come back to draw Costa Rica, 2-2, in World Cup qualifying. In fact, it’s eerie watching Bornstein’s celebration, running to the corner flag and diving headfirst as he’s mobbed moments after by his teammates. It’s a bit similar to what Lanson Donovan did about nine months later.

[READ: USMNT looks to build in match v. Canada]

To add some context, it was the final day of qualifications matches in the Hex. Three days earlier, the U.S. had already secured a place in the World Cup with a wild 3-2 win at Honduras, meaning Los Catrachos needed to win over El Salvador on the final night and hope that the U.S. would keep Costa Rica from winning in the final match.

Who else, but Carlos Pavon gave Honduras a 1-0 win over El Salvador that night. Then, it was Bornsteins goal later that night that put Los Catrachos into the World Cup for the first time since 1982, and left Costa Rica to battle for the shared spot between CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.

In honor of the big day, hundreds of Honduras fans had been mentioning Bornstein on social media, and the veteran defender – currently of the Chicago Fire – retweeted quite a few of the thankful messages to him. Below, here’s video of the call from Honduras TV, as well as from Ian Darke and the ESPN crew.

Unfortunately for Bornstein, this may be the highlight of his national team career. He did make the 2010 World Cup squad and started twice, including the matches against Algeria and Ghana, but he never truly took the next step in his career to become a star left back.

After a calamitous performance against Mexico in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, which also Bob Bradley his USMNT job, Bornstein was dropped and hasn’t been seen from again on the national team stage.

However, even though he’s only a club player these days, he’ll never have to buy a drink in Honduras, that’s for sure.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

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Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

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Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

Southgate, England players discuss racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.