After a blow to their survival hopes with defeat in mid-week, Watford host Southampton in the Premier League.
Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford, England
Key Stat: Watford have won just one of their last ten matches in all competitions.
Expert Verdict: Southampton are the mark for where Watford want to be - the Saints having put together a good run of form to climb well clear of danger. Watford could have done likewise, but have faltered every time they have looked to build some real momentum. This is a must-win game for the hosts, but the Saints have enough about them to claim victory.
Several players have shaken off minor injuries sustained in the build-up to the new season, but Isaac Success, Gerard Deulofeu and Daryl Janmaat are all long-term injury absentees.
Troy Deeney – The Watford captain is going to be imperative to the Hornets’ hopes of survival and he needs to start firing up front.
Ismaila Sarr – Six goals and four assists, including the headlines in the win against Liverpool – if those fleeting moments become more consistent, he will be key.
Ben Foster – The experienced goalkeeper has a hugely important role to play in this relegation battle, starting with trying to keep Danny Ings out.
Their surprise victory against Liverpool remains Watford’s only win in their last ten matches in all competitions. Since their return to action, Craig Dawson scored a last-gasp equaliser to draw 1-1 with Leicester but they dropped points on the road next up – a 1-0 loss to Burnley.
Defenders:Kiko Femenia, Christian Kabasele, Craig Dawson, Adam Masina
Midfielders:Will Hughes, Etienne Capoue
Attacking Midfielders:Ismaila Sarr, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Roberto Pereyra
Shane Long and Kyle Walker-Peters played the second-half against Arsenal and could start this time out. Jack Stephens is suspended after his red card, so Jannik Vestergaard could replace him at centre-back.
Danny Ings – Netted his 16th goal of the season when Southampton started with a win on their return to Premier League action.
James Ward-Prowse – Back in his favoured central midfield spot, he has looked revitalised ever since Hasenhuttl took charge.
Stuart Armstrong – Scored in each of Southampton’s last two league wins and could have done enough to earn another start on the wing.
Southampton returned to action with a big 3-0 win at Norwich, with Danny Ings, Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond all netting second-half goals. They lost 2-0 to Arsenal and had Jack Stephens sent off late on in their most recent match, however.
Defenders:Kyle Walker-Peters, Jannick Vestergaard, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand
Midfielders:Nathan Redmond, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg, Stuart Armstrong
Forwards:Danny Ings, Shane Long
After a pair of 1-1 draws last season, Southampton won 2-1 when the sides met on the South Coast in November. Dann Ings and James Ward-Prowse scored the Saints’ goals, after Ismaila Sarr had previously put Watford in front. It means Watford have won just one of their last 13 matches against Southampton in all competitions, despite having won six in a row before that. Here are the results of the last five matches:
Nov 30, 2019: Southampton 2-1 Watford
Apr 23, 2019: Watford 1-1 Southampton
Nov 10, 2018: Southampton 1-1 Watford
Jan 27, 2018: Southampton 1-0 Watford
Jan 13, 2018: Watford 2-2 Southampton
Southampton have had a mixed start on their return to action – one dominant win and one disappointing defeat, including a red card.
It is still two points more than Watford have earned, albeit from a pair of tricky matches against Leicester and Burnley.
Nigel Pearson’s Hornets just can not seem to find any momentum. A big win against Liverpool remains their last victory, whereas it needed to be a big platform to build from.
Southampton got their momentum, however, and climbed the table so they are now well clear of the danger zone.
Danny Ings is firing up front – adding another in the win against Norwich – and the likes of Nathan Redmond, Stuart Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse have re-found their places in this team.Defeat to Arsenal was accelerated by a very uncharacteristic error from Alex McCarthy and if they can cut out individual blunders in this game, then they can unpick Watford at the other end.
Watford need the points desperately and have showed why they should never be written off. But the overall form book – and their record in this fixture – means Southampton are tempting to back to win.
Watford have been listed as favourites with the bookmakers, which means a tempting price of 21/10 on Southampton to win with Betway and Betfair.
Both teams to score has been set at 20/23 with Betfair, with neither consistently good enough at the back.
For the same reason, over 2.5 goals at a best price of 6/5 with Betfair looks tempting.
The man most likely to make the difference up front, Southampton top scorer Danny Ings, is 7/5 to score at any time with 888sport, Betfair and Paddy Power.
Southampton’s attacking firepower could be the difference in this game – a Saints win will leave the Hornets in trouble.