Watford were one of the Premier League’s surprise packages last season as the Hornets laughed off their tag as relegation favourites and cruised to 13th place finish as well as making the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The biggest surprise, however, came at the end of the campaign when it was revealed the popular Quique Sánchez Flores would be leaving his role as manager after just one season.
The much-travelled Spaniard had enjoyed a fine debut year in England but the lure of a return to his homeland with Espanyol proved too great.
Walter Mazzarri represents something of a coup as a replacement, but the former Inter Milan boss will have his work cut out to improve on last season’s achievements.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Mazzarri has a wealth of experience and represents a sound choice of manager. The club have been active in the transfer market and youngsters Jerome Sinclair and Isaac Success should add pace to a front line that was over-reliant on Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo last term.
Christian Kabasele also has a solid reputation and should bulk up the defence.
Reasons to be fearful:
The much-feared second season syndrome could come into play as the fear that fired Watford’s belly could be slightly dimmed ahead of this campaign.
The club have invested heavily in young players but, while they have plenty of potential, it is unclear whether they will be Premier League ready.
Isaac Success (Granada, £12.5m), Christian Kabasele (Genk, £5.8m), Jerome Sinclair (Liverpool, free), Juan Camilo Zuniga (Napoli, loan), Brice Dja Djedje (Marseille, £3m).
Out the door:
Jose Manuel Jurado (Espanyol, £2.1m), Almen Abdi (Sheffield Wednesday, £4m), Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday, undisclosed), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord, loan), Joel Ekstrand (released), Josh Doherty (Leyton Orient, free), Gabriele Angella (Udinese, undisclosed), Miguel Layun (Porto, undisclosed), Bernard Mensah (Aldershot, free) Uche Ikpeazu (released), George Byers (Swansea, free), Jorell Johnson (released), Luke Simpson (released).
Troy Deeney – The striker isn’t prolific but most of Watford’s good work goes through him.
One to watch:
Jerome Sinclair – The young forward has a point to prove after leaving Liverpool and will be keen to make his name at Vicarage Road.
First five games:
Southampton (A), Chelsea (H), Arsenal (H), West Ham (A), Man United (H) – Live on BT Sport 1.
Click on your favourite club's name below for BT Sport's full preview:
Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hull City, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United.