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Watford’s Odion Ighalo deserves as much respect as Jamie Vardy

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t has certainly been an unpredictable Premier League campaign so far this season, with the latest surprise seeing Chelsea and José Mourinho part company for the second time.

The Portuguese trainer’s fate was sealed after a 2-1 defeat to shock division leaders Leicester, who have been propelled to the table’s summit due to Jamie Vardy’s goals.

The England international’s rags-to-riches story has been well publicised in the press and rightly so given that the former non-league star has scored 14 Premier League goals this season.

However, there are plenty of other feats that should be applauded.

Newly promoted Bournemouth gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a boost with an unlikely brace of wins over Chelsea and Manchester United recently, but are still expected to be at the wrong end of the table come May.

One side that has made the jump from The Championship but certainly do not look out of their depth is Watford, who have been going about their business without ruffling too many feathers or getting huge amounts of attention.

Perhaps it is Leicester’s dramatic rise to the top of the table that has seen the Hornets’ progress downplayed, but the Vicarage Road outfit deserve real credit.

Currently sitting seventh in the table and a mere 15 points away from the magic tally of 40 that will have been their objective at the start of the season, Watford have been mightily impressive both at home and away.

A new manager and a swathe of summer playing recruits bred questions over the potential for a slow start due to the wholesale nature of the changes, but there have been no such concerns.

Although Watford have had star performers all over the pitch in their progressive start to the new campaign, it is hard to look past one of those that played a crucial role in getting the club to the Premier League in the first place.

Odion Ighalo’s partnership with Troy Deeney was too hot for second-tier defences to handle last season and the versatile duo has continued where they left off in the Premier League.

The 26-year-old has ended up at Vicarage Road thanks to the English club’s owners and a working partnership with sister clubs Udinese and Granada.

Odion IghaloUpon signing for the Serie A side in 2008, Ighalo spent a total of four seasons on loan at the Spaniards, playing in both the top and second tiers.

Over three campaigns at Granada the Nigerian got plenty of opportunities to play in La Liga, but a tally of 12 goals in the space of three years didn’t have many hearts racing.

His subsequent loan move to Watford ahead of last season was the spark that saw the African click into gear however, with his 20 Championships goals essential in the Hornets’ promotion.

Between Ighalo and Deeney the pair scored 41 times last season in the league, but with the step up in calibre to the Premier League the duo were not expected to have as much of an impact this term.

While the Watford skipper initially struggled for goals in the top flight, Ighalo wasted little time showing that he had what it takes to terrorise Premier League defences and hit the back of the net.

With ten goals in 16 games, only Vardy, Romelu Lukaku and Riyad Mahrez have more, with the Nigerian deserving credit for a blister campaign to date.

Ighalo’s link-up play with Deeney has been essential to Watford’s fortunes, while his individual skill, trickery, pace and cool finishing have all stood out.

The Hornets’ dependence on their strike partnership is highlighted by the fact that the duo has scored 15 of the club’s 18 goals this season so far.

Ighalo’s rise to prominence in Watford’s excellent campaign has been nothing short of incredible and as such the Nigerian deserves just as much credit as Vardy when looking at the season to date.

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