How Marco Silva's Watford are influencing the Premier League title race

by Andy Dillon / 08 December 2017, 14:44

MARCO SILVA has not achieved much in English football yet although having a pop at Sam Allardyce is a good start.

Silva is a rare thing in modern day football - a humble man who relies on deeds not words.

So he should be of course because his CV in England so far reads one relegation with Hull City and a few decent results with Watford this season. He still has far to go.

There is a saying that self congratulation is no recommendation but managers like Allardyce feel a constant need to remind everyone of their considerable accomplishments.

Understandably so given the fashion for foreign managers these days and Allardyce’s criticism of Silva evidently stems from resentment that Everton first approached Watford’s 40-year-old Portuguese boss before he got the job.

And ever so quietly Silva has been having the biggest say on the title race this season than perhaps any other single manager in the Premier League, although nobody has really noticed.

This weekend is a round of derby games. Those matches with the neighbours where form and often discipline goes out of the window or tense standoffs between bitter rivals ends in stalemate.

Manchester United play Manchester City, Liverpool face Everton and Chelsea travel to a struggling West Ham team which will undoubtedly raise its game for the visit of their elevated cousins from West London.

Teams in the capital often point out that the relatively large number of clubs in close proximity within the M25 seriously hampers their chances of winning the league.

If you include Watford as a London team, then Antonio Conte, boss of Chelsea, the favourites of any of the ‘Big Smoke’ clubs to win the title, must play ten derbies.

Man City manager Pep Guardiola has just two, same as Man Utd and Jose Mourinho.

Yep, they face tough games every week but then so does Conte. Every team wants to take a point off the big boys but when it comes to local derbies it really can be a lottery.

Assume we have six¬†‘London’ teams in the top flight; Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford.

Chelsea have played four derbies and taken seven points out of a possible 12; Arsenal have played three and have four, Spurs have seven from five games, The Hammers just one and Crystal Palace four.

Watford have played four games against local rivals and taken seven points - a win ratio of 50 per cent and as good as Conte.

Silva can look the Italian squarely in the eye this season having matched him pound for pound and point for point in the neighbourhood squabbles.

All this should make Watford fans very proud of course.

But in terms of keeping the Premier League title in London it makes the situation rather difficult.

Chelsea won it rather by surprise last season. Conte transformed a rabble into ruthless achievers and it caught everyone else unawares.

Now in his second season, it is looking more difficult, with Chelsea 11 points off the top approaching the turn for home with 15 games played already.

Chelsea beat Watford and are the most consistent of all the London teams this season. But then come The Hornets who stunned Arsenal, smashed West Ham and were held by an erratic Spurs.

Spurs have played a game more and losses to Arsenal and Chelsea are going to cost them dearly.

West Ham are at home to Chelsea this weekend and a point would be considered remarkable given their current form - anything but a win for the champions is a disaster in title terms.

Conte can only hope that the Manchester derby is as difficult as any one of the dozens played in London each season. And Marco Silva needs some recognition for that even if Sam Allardyce doesn’t think so.

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