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Why the Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo partnership isn’t bearing fruit for Watford this season

Monday 2nd January 2017
Watford suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day, in a game that, once again, saw strikers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo fail to make a telling impact together.

Last season, the two centre-forwards were on fire in the Premier League under their previous manager Quique Sanchez Flores, but they've been below-par in Walter Mazzarri's maiden campaign in charge and here's why….
Summer transfer speculation

Both Deeney and Ighalo were the subjects of interest from clubs in the summer which wouldn't have helped their focus going into the new season. Deeney was frequently asked about his future at Vicarage Road after Leicester City made a £20M for his signature, and some reports suggested he was considering the switch as City were defending Premier League champions and in the Champions League in 2016/17.

As for Ighalo, the Hornets striker was linked with a move to China after Shanghai SIPG made a £38m bid for his services. He's also been linked with Hebei China Fortune and Manchester United in the last 12 months. Ighalo was keen to stay but there was a sense around the club that the money would have been useful if they'd cashed in while his value was high.

Nevertheless, it's clear the two strikers just haven't been able to get their full focus back on the pitch after enduring such a busy and distracting summer.

Change of manager and playing style

And part of the distractions came from the club sacking manager Quique Sanchez Flores and replacing him with Walter Mazzarri ahead of the new season. The former boss was a keen admirer of both Deeney and Ighalo, and his exit was felt by Deeney who described the decision to sack him as “crazy”.

Used to playing as a central striker partnership in a 4-4-2, Deeney and Ighalo were forced to play in a three-man attack which meant one would be in a wider role and forced to do more tracking back than being effective in the final third.

The Hornets aren't creating many chances in the Premier League this season – just 10.7 per game - which means Deeney and Ighalo aren't getting the ball enough in areas they can be a threat in. It also doesn't help that the chemistry between the two players isn't anything like it was last season.

Ighalo's poor work rate making Deeney's efforts futile

Odion Ighalo has been in poor form this season, registering just one goal every 125 minutes, and has been guilty of overplaying when in possession. The 27-year-old has made more unsuccessful dribbles than successful, averaging an unsuccessful touch or dispossession every 19 minutes, and his decision-making is costing Watford potential goals.

Troy Deeney is the target man to flick the ball on from dead-ball situations and create chances from wide areas, but he isn't getting a striker partner who is doing his bit in attack. Ighalo's movement has been poor at times this season and he's looking for the shot rather than supplying Deeney who is often in a good scoring position in the area.

The two strikers had an almost telepathic partnership in the Premier League last season, but they lack chemistry this time round and it's lead to a lack of goals – just five league goals between them in 2857 collective minutes.
Crippy Cooke

Crippy is a long-suffering Aston Villa supporter and weekly football accumulator enthusiast.

Stealing a living, the balding 27-year-old boasts a wealth of writing experience - Telegraph, Independent, Huffington Post, Zoo Magazine, Daily Mail, ITV Football, MSN Sport, Yahoo Sport, London 24 and Bleacher Report.


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