Watford v Stoke City

18 Mar

Watford captain Troy Deeney and head coach Quique Sanchez Flores


Troy Deeney (left) opened the scoring in Watford’s 2-0 win at Stoke in October

TEAM NEWS

Watford will assess striker Odion Ighalo, who has been troubled by a muscular problem in training this week.

Boss Quique Sanchez Flores says Ighalo is one of “three of four” players set for late fitness tests, while Miguel Britos and Joel Ekstrand are ruled out.

Stoke pair Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri are out after suffering respective back and thigh problems.

Eric Pieters’ calf injury will be assessed but Phil Bardsley should be able to return from a similar problem.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

Martin Fisher: “With a trip to Wembley just five weeks away and a first FA Cup final appearance since 1984 a distinct possibility, I wonder if Watford’s focus might be slightly awry for this one.

“Brilliant in the cup quarter-final at Arsenal last Sunday, their league form has actually been on the slide since Christmas.

“Even so, the Hornets have already produced their best ever Premier League season.

“Stoke’s bid for a top-six spot and European football hit the buffers with defeat at home to Southampton a week ago but win this and they are right back on track.

“To do that they will have to score their first goal at Vicarage Road in 12 years.”

Twitter: @martfisher1

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY

Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores: “Stoke City are the perfect example for any club looking to succeed in establishing themselves in the top flight.

“Now we have the opportunity to grow because this is a really ambitious club.

“In Watford’s history they have had a lot of good seasons for many different reasons. But this season is one of the most important in the club’s history.”

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes: “We like to set targets and raise expectations, and we’re always looking to challenge ourselves.

“There is a challenge – can we go from now until the end of the season unbeaten?

“It will be difficult, because we have some really difficult games coming up, not least at the weekend. But I think it’s a realistic goal.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

It is easy to forget this is the Hornets’ first year in the Premier League because they have never really looked like being in danger of the drop.

Stoke were typically impossible to predict last weekend, and saw their good run ended with a home defeat by Southampton, so I am not sure what to expect from them this time.

Prediction: 2-1

Lawro’s full predictions v BBC athletics commentator Steve Cram

  • Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor game.
Peter Crouch<!–

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Watford have won six of the previous seven top-flight meetings, with their only defeat coming at the Victoria Ground in March 1983.
  • The last Potters player to score against the Hornets was Gifton Noel-Williams, who hit the only goal against his former club in a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road in December 2004.
  • The last four matches between these teams have produced a total of three goals.

Watford

  • The Hornets have won two of their last 12 league games (D3, L7).
  • They have failed to score in seven of their last nine Premier League matches.
  • Watford have kept eight Premier League clean sheets at home this season – a tally bettered only by Manchester United, with nine.
  • There have been just 25 top-flight goals at Vicarage Road this season, fewer than at any other Premier League stadium.

Stoke City

  • Stoke have failed to score a first-half goal in 10 of their 11 league games in 2016.
  • The Potters have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight league matches.
  • All but 10 of Stoke’s 32 Premier League goals this season have been scored or set up by Marko Arnautovic, Bojan or Xherdan Shaqiri.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

No comments yet

Leave a Reply