Move over Deeney... Why Ighalo is the leading man at Watford

Watford FC Stadium Inside

Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo has every right to believe he's the best at Watford, and in the Championship right now.

Granada fans are kept reliably informed about how the player they refer simply to as 'The Legend' is performing this season with Watford via regular updates in the Granadino edition of Ideal.

In truth, Odion Ighalo was never a prolific scorer of goals for Granada, but whenever he did find the back of the net they were always usually at the most crucial of moments, in the most important of games. A true talisman that always popped up when you needed him the most, such as the play-off final against Elche which put his team into the Spanish top-flight, along with goals that kept them there over the following seasons.

A disappointing campaign for Ighalo during the 2013-14 season in La Liga was marred by an unfortunate knee injury, which required surgery and sidelined him for much of the season. When summer rolled by he was considered surplus to requirements and, as such, afforded the opportunity to join fellow Pozzo-owned club Watford in the Championship.

Though his numbers weren't particularly impressive to begin with this season, as any strikers in football will frequently suggest, goals can often come in streaks, which then boost the confidence of a player tremendously. That confidence is always the key.

On Friday night away at Derby County, the 25-year-old Nigerian showed that his confidence is sky high, combining well with his Watford colleagues before latching onto a through-ball and applying a lovely finish.

An important strike at a key time, reminiscent of his Granada days, having helped his current side earn a valuable point even though they were down to 10-men. Now on 18 goals, Ighalo is just one behind Troy Deeny, who has 19, while ahead of Matej Vydra.

Just over a week ago, my HITC colleague Tim Simon highlighted good reasons for Troy Deeny to be considered the best striker in the Championship. Sorry Tim, but I have to disagree, although I'm bound to be just a little biased when it comes to Ighalo.

While he was still at Granada, I'll never forget 'Odi' (his short name here at the time), telling me his dream was to play for Manchester United. Although that might be a long shot and never likely to happen, there was never any faulting his drive and ambition and, at the very least, he could get the opportunity to walk out into the Old Trafford pitch in the colours of Watford.

If playing for the Red Devils itself wasn't possible, at least sharing the pitch with his heroes as a player, as part of the opposing team, was the next best thing on his list of ambitions, hopes and desires. All his efforts based on firm religious beliefs and values, that he should make the most of a talent God had privileged him with. His typical goal celebration, always offering divine thanks, as Watford fans will have noted.

Since the late December victory at Cardiff City, Ighalo has been on fire for Watford. In his last 13 outings for The Hornets, he's struck a highly impressive 15 goals, including four in the 7-2 demolition of Blackpool.

Deeney on 19 and Daryl Murphy of Ipswich Town on 23 remain ahead of the Nigerian in the Championship scoring charts, but nobody is more in form in front of goal right now. Indeed, Ighalo has reached his tally with fewer games played.

Watford could have topped the Championship with three points on Friday, but if Ighalo can keep producing the form he's in, and keep hitting the back of the net, there's no reason why his team can't gain automatic promotion to the Premier League as title-winners, with him finishing top of the shop in the scoring stakes.

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