24/09/2021

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Ighalo and Deeney: A partnership that brought Watford back to life

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We’ve had some memorable examples down the years in the Premier League such as Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke at Manchester United, the duo scoring a combined 129 goals and winning multiple titles that included the treble of 1998-99 season.

Then there was also the partnership of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, the duo that scored 96 combined competitive goals in two seasons for Blackburn Rovers, part of which saw the Lancashire club lift the 1994-95 Premier League title. There was also Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal and the Senegalese duo of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba at Newcastle United.

One of the most recent and enjoyable duo were Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney at Watford.

Deeney had been on the books of the Hornets since 2010 and was constantly producing the goods. Attention to him became greater when Ighalo joined the Hertfordshire outfit from Udinese in 2014.

Ighalo was an instant hit and he combined well with Deeney with both men scoring 41 total goals to earn Watford promotion to the Premier League for the first time in eight years. Between them, they assisted each others goals five times

The love affair between Ighalo and Deeney continued in the English top-flight for the 2015-16 season, with both men netting a combined 28 goals as the Hornets finished in 13th place to secure their survival status. Both men laid the ball for each other to score a total of nine times, some of the most memorable moments came in an emphatic 3-0 home win where Ighalo scored a brace. Ighalo and Deeney combined in 2-1 wins home and away against Newcastle United and in a 2-2 draw at Everton.

Both men also combined in Watford’s huge 2-1 away win at Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup during the same season.

There was no assisting of goals between Ighalo and Deeney for the 2016-17 season with the Nigerian heading to Chinese League side Changchun Yatai in a big money deal.

Ighalo’s departure did not affect Deeney much as he was able to carry on the mantle of goalscoring for six more seasons with 37 strikes in all competitions to his name.

Overall, Ighalo and Deeney were involved in a total of 120 goals(84 goals, 36 assists) when they played together.

Watford got relegated in 2019-20 but got back up instantly for the ongoing 2021-22 season. Deeney remained a focal point in the team as captain, something he had been since 2014 when Ighalo arrived at Vicarage Road.

The curtain however came down on his career at Vicarage Road after he left this summer as a free agent to join Birmingham City in the Championship.

The 33-year-old man leaves Herefordshire as a legend with a total of 140 goals and 62 assists in 419 appearances, making him Watford’s all-time top scorer. However, he will be fondly remembered for his partnership with Ighalo.

Due to the change in tactical dynamics in the modern game, playing two centre-forwards is somewhat a thing of the past. It’s safe to say, the Ighalo-Deeney partnership was one of a kind, hence the need to cherish it, not just now that both men are no longer part of the Watford setup, but equally in the years to come.

Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.