Leicester City will be keen to retain their stranglehold at the top of the EFL Championship standings when they take on Watford on Saturday night
Fresh from hammering Stoke City 5-0, EFL Championship leaders Leicester City will hope for similar luck when they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Saturday night.
Enzo Maresca’s men have recovered from their blip in form and are now swiftly in the driver’s seat once again as a swift return to the Premier League draws near. The same cannot be said of Watford, who are in the 11th spot.
The Hornets might not have much of a clear shot when it comes to promotion, but a good series of results will aid them in making a late punt for a playoff spot. Whether that will be incentive enough for Watford to step up their game against the Foxes.
With several key players back, Maresca has options and the gargantuan performance away to Stoke certainly was a warning shot to the other clubs in the English second tier. Leicester’s points tally is dwarfed only by Reading’s 2005/06 campaign in the Championship era. So, it is fair to say that the Foxes will take some stopping.
Valerien Ismael’s side have looked uncomfortable at home of late and will be keen to end their four-game wait for a win at Vicarage Road. It is fair to say they could not have picked a harder opponent than Leicester in the league on the night.
The loss to Southampton midweek showed the difference in quality between Watford and the top teams in the league. There will be little let-up against Leicester and unless they bring their A-game to the field, another hammering could be on the cards. The Hard Tackle looks closer at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Watford are expected to bring back their best players this weekend and Ismael will hope to spring a surprise against Leicester City. While the task is easier said than done, stranger things have happened in football. Jeremy Ngakia is back in training but is not expected to feature this weekend.
Watford have a fully-fit squad at their disposal, and the first XI should be similar to the one that faced Cardiff City last time out in the Championship. The Hornets are expected to go for a 4-1-4-1 formation, where they will try to win the battle in the middle of the park.
Ben Hamer should start in goal behind the back four of Ryan Andrews, Mattie Pollock, Wesley Hoedt, and Jamal Lewis. Veteran Jake Livermore should hold the fort in the middle of the park, and he will be keen to get the better of Harry Winks.
Matheus Martins and Yaser Asprilla should provide the width with Ismael Kone and Giorgi Chakvetadze providing the haymaker in the middle. Emmanuel Dennis should lead the line and will hope to catch Leicester cold on the night.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Hamer; Andrews, Pollock, Hoedt, Lewis; Livermore; Martins, Kone, Chakvetadze, Asprilla; Dennis
The Foxes put an end to the moniker ‘Can you do it on a rainy night at Stoke’ last weekend and will now aim to conquer Vicarage Road. Given their upper hand in quality, one would assume that Enzo Maresca’s men go into the clash as favourites.
One name who will be absent for the visitors is Kelechi Ihenacho, who is still with the Nigerian national team ahead of the AFCON final. Jannik Vestergaard is a doubt for the game, but Maresca has an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from.
The Foxes boss is expected to retain his 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mads Hermansen in goal. He will be protected by the back four of Ricardo Pereira, Wout Faes, Ryan Nelson and Callum Doyle.
Harry Winks and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall will form the double pivot, with the trio of Abdul Fatawu, Kasey McAteer and Stephy Mavididi playing further forward. Patson Daka should get the nod over Jamie Vardy, given Leicester’s wealth of options.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hermansen; Pereira, Faes, Nelson, Doyle; Winks, Dewsbury-Hall; Fatawu, McAteer, Mavididi; Daka
- Watford have lost three league games against Leicester City in a row, heading into the match on Saturday.
- A win on Saturday will see Leicester City secure consecutive wins at Vicarage Road for the first time since 2016.
- Failure to win on the night will see Watford extend their winless streak at home to five matches.
- Leicester City have secured 72 points in the Championship this season, a record bettered only by Reading at this stage (73) in 2005/06.
Player to Watch
The Zambian striker is expected to lead Leicester City’s attack on Saturday and has the best minutes-per-goal rate of any player with more than five goals in the English second tier this season. Daka averages a goal every 100 minutes and will hope to bring that number down this Saturday.
The Foxes ace has scored six goals in eight starts this season and is in good nick going into the night. His movement and ability in the box should cause Watford problems and how well the Hornets deal with him remains to be seen.
Watford 0-3 Leicester City
Watford’s poor home form and inconsistency will do them little favours against a Leicester juggernaut who will be heavy favourites on the night. As things stand, anything less than a comfortable win for the Foxes appear difficult to fathom.