Premier League preview week: No. 18 Brighton & Hove Albion and No. 17 Watford

Glenn Murray helped lift Brighton & Hove Albion into the Premier League, but can they stay there? (Getty)

Welcome to FC Yahoo’s Premier League preview week. We’ll take a look at each team in our aggregated predicted table, counting down from No. 20 to No. 1, and also reflect on some issues surrounding the league as kickoff approaches on Friday. Follow along with everything here.

18. BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION

Last season – Along with Newcastle, Brighton & Hove Albion set the pace in the Championship to seal its first-ever promotion to the Premier League. Behind striker Glenn Murray’s 23 goals and manager Chris Hughton’s experienced hand, the club went over four months without losing between September and January and looked every bit the part of a Premier League-worthy side.

Key transfer notes – Signed from relegated Bundesliga outfit FC Ingolstadt 04, defender Markus Suttner was an unused sub during Austria’s Euro 2016 campaign last summer. The 30-year-old has four goals in 31 Bundesliga appearances and will provide a boost on the left side of defense. Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan joins from Valencia, although he spent much of last season on loan with KRC Genk. The Australian has been handed the No. 1 jersey.

FC Yahoo take

Joey Gulino: People are sleeping on the Seagulls. Although they didn’t technically clinch promotion until mid-April, they were so convincing there was almost zero doubt they’d be going up. The defense conceded just 40 goals, and while it’ll face more dangerous attackers this season, the 4-4-2 implemented by Hughton is tailor-made for the Premier League in its rigid effectiveness, especially with Murray now a permanent signee to lead the line. Get used to the top flight, Brighton.

Alex Baker: After kicking off with an 18-match unbeaten streak, Brighton & Hove Albion faltered in the run-in last season, eventually conceding the title to Newcastle. Although disappointing, the second place finish was enough to see Albion promoted to the Premier League for the first time in club history. In Chris Hughton, Brighton has a proven, experienced manager. But with a squad short on top flight experience, Albion need to make signings before deadline day, or the Seagulls flight in the Premier League will be a short one.

Betting odds (via SkyBet)

Win Premier League – 1500/1
Relegation – 5/4

Predicted finishes

Shahan Ahmed: 18 | Ryan Bailey: 18 | Alex Baker: 20 | Henry Bushnell: 17 | Joey Gulino: 14 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 16

Watford needs Troy Deeney to rediscover his goal-scoring form if it wants to avoid relegation. (Reuters)

17. WATFORD

Last season – Watford finished 17th and declined noticeably under manager Walter Mazzarri, who was sacked after his side lost its last six games and failed to score in five of them. Between striker Troy Deeney failing to fire on a consistent basis and a defense that kept just seven clean sheets, the Hornets ended up with the third-worst goal differential in the Premier League.

Key transfer notes – Defender Nathanial Chalobah joins Watford from Chelsea and is expected to slot into a starting midfield role. Right-back Kiko Femenia made 31 appearances for Alaves last season in a campaign that saw the Babazorros finish ninth and record wins over Barça, Villarreal and Bilbao. Goalkeeper Daniel Bachman joins after six years at Stoke. Watford also looks set to pip Man U for the signature of Brazilian wunderkind Richarlison.

FC Yahoo take

Alex Baker: Bookmakers have been gunning for Watford to drop back down to the Championship since the club was promoted in 2015. But the Hornets have proved resilient, ending last season six points clear of the drop. The core of the team remains intact and has been augmented with a few key signings. Ex-Hull boss Marco Silva replaces Mazzarri in the gaffer’s chair and with a loan move for Everton’s Aaron Lennon being touted, Sir Elton’s beloved Hornets look poised to defy the bookies again.

Leander Schaerlaeckens: Last season, Watford lost its last six games and was shut out in five of them. In that spell, the Hornets tumbled from 10th place to 17th. Silva has replaced the feckless Mazzarri, which is to say that a boss who was nearly relegated made way for one who was relegated with Hull City. Meanwhile, with no recruits bigger than Chalobah and Tom Cleverley, both useful if unspectacular midfielders, this is still a team whose best players are Deeney and Etienne Capoue. They’ll be lucky to stay up.

Betting odds (via SkyBet)

Win Premier League – 1000/1
Relegation – 15/8

Predicted finishes

Shahan Ahmed: 18 | Ryan Bailey: 18 | Alex Baker: 20 | Henry Bushnell: 16 | Joey Gulino: 18 | Leander Schaerlaeckens: 20

More previews

Arsenal | Bournemouth | Brighton & Hove Albion | Burnley | Chelsea | Crystal Palace | Everton | Huddersfield Town | Leicester City | Liverpool | Manchester City | Manchester United | Newcastle United | Southampton | Stoke City | Swansea City | Tottenham Hotspur | Watford | West Bromwich Albion | West Ham United