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Match Previews

Reds v Watford: Preview

15 March 2013

David Flitcroft's side go head-to-head with Gianfranco Zola's high-flying Watford tomorrow, Tom Bestwick previews the action...

Saturday 16 March – Kick off 15:00
Reds v Watford


Watford's last five league fixtures: W, W, D, W, L

Tell me more…


After several seasons of going about their business quietly, and in a low-key manner, things became somewhat high profile last summer for the Hornets.

After being taken over in July by the Pozzo family, who also own Italian Serie A side Udinese and Spanish side Granada, things have drastically changed for the club as a number of foreign players associated with both clubs were brought in. There was also a change at the helm as manager Sean Dyche was relieved of his duties and was replaced with Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola.

Watford’s early statement was to break back into the Premier League, and with nine games left of the season, Zola brings his side to Oakwell well placed in third position, whilst also boasting a goal-scoring record that gives them the title of England’s top scorers out of the 92 league clubs, and have scored in 33 of their 37 games this season.

Quite recently the Hornets have come under fire for the loan policy the club has been using since the Pozzo family completed their takeover. They currently have 10 players on loan, with the majority coming from their sister clubs Udinese and Granada. The criticism came after seven of their loan players started in the 2-0 victory over Ipswich Town back in February.

Team news...

Chalobah (pictured above with Stephen Dawson) is expected to return

Watford will be without midfielder Almen Abdi after he suffered a minor groin injury in the 2-1 home defeat to Blackpool. The Hornets will also still be without Manuel Almunia, Tommie Hoban, John Eustace, and Connor Smith, but defender Fitz Hall and on-loan England Under 21 midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah are expected to be passed fit for this fixture.

Who’s their star man?

The amount of loan signings Watford have made this season has been key to their revival, but 20-year-old Matej Vydra has been the standout player at Vicarage Road this term. With 20 goals to his name already, the Czech Republic international forward has put himself firmly in the shop window and even if his current club do not make it to the Premier League, he may very well be anyway with a number of admirers currently monitoring his progress in the Championship.

Their season so far...

After a slow start to the season, Watford’s inconsistent form picked up in November as they went from a mid-table side to a team chasing promotion. A run of one defeat in 11 games at the end of 2012 saw the Hornets leap from 15th to 6th and since the turn of the year they have only lost three games, with one of them being their most recent home clash against Blackpool.


Biggest win...

Leeds United finished with nine men as Gianfranco Zola’s side scored six goals at Elland Road back in November. Matej Vydra scored a brace, and Almen Abdi , Mark Yeates, Sean Murray and Troy Deeney all bagged goals in the second half. Leeds centre-back Jason Pearce was shown a red card and Rudolph Austin was stretchered off with a broken leg on a miserable afternoon for Neil Warnock’s side.

Heaviest defeat...

Watford’s heaviest defeat of the season came back in September when they were comprehensively beaten 5-1 by Derby County at Pride Park. There were five separate goal scorers for the Rams with Republic of Ireland trio Richard Keogh, Conor Sammon and Jeff Hendrick scoring the first half goals, before teenager Will Hughes and Jamie Ward added gloss to the score line. Vydra got the consolation for the Hornets on a day to forget in the East Midlands.

A blast from the past…

The Tykes have not beaten Watford since the 1-0 win back in 2010. Icelandic left-winger Emil Hallfredsson scored the decisive goal in the second half after he had raced onto Filipe Teixeira’s pass on 55 minutes. Barnsley finished the clash with 10 men after Ryan Shotton was sent off with 15 minutes remaining to keep Barnsley’s play-off hopes alive.

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