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What we love about Watford

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Watford.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to take a closer look at the Hornets.


Troy Deeney: Troy Deeney is – and has been – the face of Watford since his move from Walsall in 2010. A move that came about after Deeney, a Birmingham native and Birmingham City supporter growing up, submitted a written transfer request to exit a then-League One side to make his way to the Championship. His first year at Vicarage, however, was rough. The striker managed to score only two goals in 36 league appearances, raising questions about whether or not Deeney was built survive outside England’s third division.

Since that trying first year with the Hornets, Deeney hasn’t looked back, making his way into the “Watford’s best players ever” conversation with a remarkable 129 goals in 388 appearances. Only club legends Luther Blissett – considered by many as the best Hornet ever – and John Barnes have more top-flight gals than Deeney himself. 

Historical, last-gasp win against Leicester City: May 2013, Vicarage Road. Leicester City’s Anthony Knockaert goes down in the box after minimal contact with a Watford defender. A penalty is called in the visitor’s favor. The aggregate stands at 2-2 as the clocks ticks the final seconds of a two-legged Championship play-off semifinal between the Hornets and the Foxes. Knockaert’s shot from the spot – directed right down the middle, with pace – is blocked. His second chance as well. Watford recover and immediately go back the other way.

 

Only seconds remain before the head official sends the match to penalty kicks, but Watford is looking for the final blow. Fernando Forestieri desperately sends a textbook cross inside the box. Jonathan Hogg meets the ball midair and heads it into an incoming Deeney, who seals a goal – and celebration – for the ages.

The Watford-Elton John connection: While Manchester City may have Oasis brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher rooting them on, Watford count on the support of multi-generational musician Elton John. A lifelong Hornet supporter, the English rock legend has done more than just “support” the club from the stands, though. 

In 1976, Elton John became Watford’s chairman and director. He eventually sold the club in 1987 before re-purchasing it a decade later from Jack Petchey. John no longer owns his childhood team, but he remains a part of the club as the honorary life-president.

Latest PL update following meeting with EFL, PFA

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The Premier League, English Football League and Professional Footballers’s Association released a joint-statement following a meeting between the three sides held on Friday.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

Notably, it was revealed that the four leagues in question — the PL and three Football League competitions — will not resume until April 30 at the earliest. The goal of the meeting was to “mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England” and set in place a plan for how the leagues, which feed clubs to one another through promotion and relegation, can remain in lockstep as they transition from one season to the next.

The full statement can be read below:

The Premier League, EFL and PFA met today and discussed the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organizations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.

The leagues will not recommence until April 30 at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow.

Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their clubs, players, staff and fans.

Southgate’s passionate plea to England: ‘We must work together’

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Gareth Southgate has once again struck the perfect chord in his attempt to rally the people of England and fans of his Three Lions during these uncertain times of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: Report: Donnarumma learning English ahead of PL move ]

Southgate wrote an open letter, released by the English FA, calling on everyone to work together to conquer “what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.” He also spoke of his excitement and pride to once again again represent England at the rescheduled European Championship — excerpts from Southgate’s letter which can be read in full here:

“For everyone in our country, the primary focus of the present — and the coming months — is undoubtedly to look after our families, support our communities and work together to come through what is clearly the most extreme test we’ve faced collectively in decades.

“In the way you’ve all come together to support our team, we must now work together to combat a virus that is causing physical and emotional issues to so many. So, please continue to follow the guidelines for hygiene and also the sensible precautions put in place to control the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to its impact. That responsibility lies with us all.

“We are also conscious of the economic uncertainty affecting so many businesses and, consequently, virtually every family. Coupled with the unique challenges of self-isolation, the loss of routine to normal working and social life, we face real challenges to our mental wellbeing. Our children may feel anxious with uncertainty. It’s not normal for any of us and it’s going to challenge us all.

“We were due to play next week and to represent you all this summer but now is clearly not the moment for us to take centre stage. The heroes will be the men and women who continue working tirelessly in our hospitals and medical centers to look after our friends and families. They won’t receive the individual acclaim but we all know their importance is beyond anything we do on the pitch.”

“When we play again as an England team, it will be at a time when not only our country but the rest of the world as well is on the road to recovery. Hopefully we will be closer to each other than ever and ready for the beautiful distraction that football can bring.

“To play in a European Championship next summer will still be possible for all of our squad and so we shouldn’t spend another moment thinking about the postponement of the competition. I feel sure when that moment comes I will never have been prouder to be the leader.”

Italian sports leaders hopeful for early May return for Serie A

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Italy continues its battle with the coronavirus, but authorities are already planning for the rest of the Serie A season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora and federation president Gabriele Gravina have both spoken openly of a return during the first weekend in May.

It’s a bit audacious given the uncertainty of the disease’s run through the world, but it’s promising for us as people and sports fans to see someone putting a date on any semblance of normalcy.

Here’s Spadafora, from The Chronicle:

“I believe that Serie A can return on May 3. We will evaluate whether it’s played behind closed doors, or open to the public. This formula will then be added to international competitions, like the Champions League and Europa League.”

The conclusion to Serie A’s scudetto race will be interesting for once, as Lazio is a point back of Juventus with a dozen matches left each.

The sides were initially scheduled to meet on April 26.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Some Spanish clubs decide to leave virus tests for others

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MADRID — Some soccer clubs in Spain have decided not to use the coronavirus testing kits offered to them by the Spanish league, saying there are others who need them more.

The league last week offered some 500 tests to its teams, prioritizing those that recently traveled to high-risk areas or already had players infected.

Celta Vigo said Thursday it wouldn’t use the tests because it “there are other groups in greater need” for them in Spain.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ] 

Valladolid said it would not test its players at the moment, since none of them have shown symptoms. Team spokesman David Espinar said the tests should be prioritized for other people in the country, which is struggling to battle the pandemic.

Spain has more than 17,000 people infected with the virus. Nearly 770 people have died and more than 930 were in intensive care.

First-division club Alavés on Wednesday said it had 15 people infected – three players, seven members of its coaching staff and five other employees.

Valencia and Espanyol also were hit by the virus. Valencia said 35% of its squad and coaching staff were infected, while Espanyol said six members of its team and staff had the virus.