- Name: Troy Deeney
- Position: Forward
- Fantasy Price: £8m (PlayON), £5.2m (FPL)
- Appearances: 16
- Goals: 5
- Assists: 4
A new Rocky movie – the seventh, and no not Adrian’s Revenge – isn’t scheduled for release in these parts until January, but that hasn’t stopped the Premier League indulging in some underdog stories of its own this season.
Jamie Vardy and Leicester’s meteoric rise has rightly dominated the headlines so far this campaign. The speed at which the Sheffield-born striker turned his career around – Fleetwood to the summit of the top tier in three years – has been Hollywood stuff.
For Watford forward Troy Deeney, the journey to Premier League prominence has had even more drastic highs and lows.
Expelled from school at 14. Readmitted at 15. Out again before receiving any qualifications. The wayward Deeney even once skipped an Aston Villa trial to chat up women in the local park.
In footballing terms, he eventually found his feet at Walsall – where he cut his teeth in the third and fourth tier of English football before securing a move to Championship side Watford in 2010.
Deeney rose to become a key member of the side, transitioning from winger to powerful striker under the eye of current Burnley manager, Sean Dyche. His progress was interrupted, however, in 2012 when he was incarcerated, serving two months of a ten-month prison sentence for a violent assault on a man outside a Birmingham nightclub.
The day prior to the attack, Deeney discovered his father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
His reply to these self-inflicted set-backs was to straighten out and play the best football of his career – scoring over 20 goals for three consecutive seasons and leading the side to Premier League promotion, he’s done exactly that. The underdog mentality seems to have stuck however, and provides the platform for his unrelenting attitude on the pitch.
“I’m not supposed to be here, but you know what? I am here now and I’m going to make it work,” Deeney told The Guardian.
Like Leicester, Watford are a bit of a throwback. They set up in a rigid 4-4-2, and the two out and out strikers hark back to classic Premier League partnerships of Shearer-Sutton, Quinn-Phillips and even Yorke-Cole. Scoring five and laying on four assists in 16 appearances, the Watford captain has combined with his strike partner Odion Ighalo to supply 15 of the Hornets’ 18 goals this season. After an initial dry spell – nine games without a goal – Deeney has shown himself to be an unflinching top level performer.
In fantasy terms, everybody and their mother has Ighalo in their line-ups – the Nigerian boasts a 30% selection rate in FPL – but Deeney is still largely undervalued at £5.2m and gets the nod in just 4% of fantasy squads. This makes him a differential option worth investing in. In his last five games, Deeney bagged four goals and matches Jamie Vardy for goal efficiency in that time frame, scoring from 28% of his efforts on goal.
The potential for assists is of course, another feather in his bow.
Deeney, Kone and Lukaku all rank top among strikers for assists with four apiece this season, but the Watford man had created more goalscoring chances – 25 – than any other forward in the top flight.
Quique Sanchez Flores has melded a resolute defence – seven clean sheets this season – with a counter-attacking ethos that makes no bones about getting the ball to his in-form strikers as quickly as possible:
“We have the possibility of playing different styles with Deeney and Ighalo. We can play long ball or we can play with the ball on the floor,” Flores told Sky Sports.
Deeney, in particular, is the conduit for nearly every attack and also serves as the team’s designated penalty taker – in short, for a small outlay you get a player who is odds on to be involved in a Hornets goal in some capacity.
Watford have conceded in just three home games this season and hosting Liverpool in Gameweek 17, they have every opportunity of coming away with all three points.
The visitors boast arguably the most calamitous defence in the division – making 17 defensive errors this season, with five of those errors leading to goals conceded. Given that Dejan Lovren is ruled out for the Reds and Mamadou Sakho is touch and go to return from injury, Watford’s dynamic duo could certainly capitalize.
The Christmas schedule may not be kind to Watford – a potentially rejuvenated and Mourinho-less Chelsea and Spurs are up in Gameweek 18 and 19 – but with a leader like Deeney on the frontline, do not write them off.