Video of the Day: Watford vs Liverpool, January 1986
The Premier League returns this season and, whilst Arsenal and Leicester City got things under way last night with a match which seemed to confirm that peak Arsenal seems to turn up earlier each year, the first Saturday match of the season comes at lunchtime when Watford entertain Liverpool at Vicarage Road. Despite last year’s disappointing seventeenth placed finish last season, there remains the truth that this team is starting to come close to those made of Graham Taylor’s Watford team of the 1980s.
Taylor’s team spent six years in the top flight between 1982 and 1988, played European football and reached an FA Cup final in 1984, whereas the current team is starting its third Premier League season and reached an FA Cup semi-final two seasons ago. There’s room for improvement – and the stratification of the English game into seven and the rest means that 1982/83’s final runners-up spot will surely never be repeated – but the Watford team of this decade could, should it come to settle in the Premier League, be at least able to match that previous six year record.
The Watford team of 1985/86 would not be a bad template for the current to aspire towards. They finished the season in twelfth place – in, of course, a twenty-two team division – which was one down from the season before, although they picked up four points more from the 1985/86 season than they did at the end of the previous season, and they came into this match off the back of a comfortable win at Coventry City in the Third Round of the FA Cup the week before. Their opponents on this particular cold afternoon at Vicarage Road, however, were Liverpool, who were looking predictably and familiarly comfortable near the top of the First Division table.
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