Watford vs Leeds United: Preview and Prediction

EFL Championship leaders Leeds United will be keen to hold onto the top spot when they take on Watford on Friday.

Championship leaders Leeds United will be keen to retain their spot at the summit when they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Good Friday.

Daniel Farke’s men have done well to claw the gap on Leicester City, now sitting pretty at the top of the English second tier. However, the Foxes, who only trail on goal difference, have a game in hand, meaning Leeds cannot as yet rest on their laurels.

Watford, on the other hand, are floundering in mid-table, closer to the relegation zone than the playoff spots. Having won just one of their last five league games, they now face a Leeds outfit brimming with intent and confidence.

While home comforts usually are something to fall back on, Watford are winless in their own backyard in the league since November 2023, a run of nine games without a victory. While the win over Birmingham City last time out will give them confidence, Leeds represent an altogether different challenge.

Tom Cleverley got his managerial stint off to an imperious start at St. Andrews. But Farke is a master of the game, especially when it comes to taking Championship sides to the top flight. To claim that the Whites go into the clash as favourites would be an understatement.

Leeds also arrive having conceded just once in their last six away games in the Championship. Anything less than a convincing victory for the visitors on the night will come as a surprise. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up for the game and their tactics.

Team News & Tactics


The Hornets have seen their form fall away over the past few months, especially at home. Vicarage Road, once a fortress is yet to see the home side pick up three points since November 2023. Valerien Ismael became the latest casualty of the Hornets’ trigger-happy owners with Tom Cleverley now taking charge.

The former Manchester United man got off to a brilliant start with the win over Birmingham City but there are far tougher tests yet to come, few harder than Leeds. Watford will, however, have to do so without Wesley Hoedt, who is suspended and the injured duo of Kwadwo Baah and Jeremy Ngakia.

Ken Sema is a doubt for the game but Jamal Lewis and Ryan Adrews will be expected to make the cut after pulling out of international duty thanks to injuries. The Hornets are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 setup, with Daniel Bachmann in goal. He should be protected by the backline of Ryan Andrews, Ryan Porteous, Mattie Pollock, and James Morris.

Edo Kayembe and Tom Dele-Bashiru should form the double pivot with the trio of Yaser Asprilla, Ismael Kone and Giorgi Chakvetadze providing the attacking trust. Emmanuel Dennis was the hero against Birmingham and will lead the line once again on the night.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bachmann; Andrews, Porteous, Pollock, Morris; Kayembe, Dele-Bashiru; Asprilla, Kone, Chakvetadze; Dennis

Watford vs Leeds United: Preview and Prediction.

Leeds United

Daniel Farke’s men have been sensational this year and are in current form, the team to beat in the second tier of English football. Given that Leicester City have a game in hand, Leeds will be keen to put the points on the board and to give away any breathing space for the chasing pack.

Connor Roberts went down in pain during the international break, while Junior Firpo might not return in time to be relied upon from the start. However, Pascal Struijk and Stuart Dallas are yet to recover from their knocks and are definitely ruled out for the game.

Daniel James will be still smarting thanks to his penalty miss against Poland, something that saw Wales’s hopes of qualification for the Euros go up in smoke. Whether Farke is willing to put the winger right back into his starting XI remains to be seen.

The biggest miss is likely to be Georginio Rutter who is still recovering from a hernia surgery. As Leeds’s most potent creator this season, the Frenchman will be missed.

Leeds are expected to retain their 4-2-3-1 formation, with Illan Meslier in goal. He should be protected by the back four of Archie Gray, Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, and Sam Byram. The quartet should be protected by the double pivot of Ilia Gruev and Glen Kamara.

The in-form Wilfried Gnonto should start on the right wing with Crysencio Summerville occupying the other flank. Joel Piroe should return to the number 10 role, with Patrick Bamford leading the line.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Gray, Ampadu, Rodon, Byram; Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto, Piroe, Summerville; Bamford

Watford vs Leeds United: Preview and Prediction.

Key Stats

  • Watford are currently on a three-game losing streak to Leeds United in the League, failing to score in any of the three fixtures.
  • Leeds have defeated Watford five times at Vicarage Road, each time both clubs had different managers.
  • A loss on the night will see Leeds suffer Good Friday losses in consecutive years for the first time since 1989.
  • This is Leeds United’s first game on Good Friday since 2019.
  • A win on the night will see Watford win consecutive Championship games for the first time in 2024.
  • Watford have not won a league game at home since November 2023.

Player to Watch

Wilfried Gnonto

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The first half of the season saw the Italian in the news for all the wrong reasons, and his future at the club is still far from certain. But Gnonto has since the new year shown what the fuss is all about and proven on the pitch that he is the real deal.

With six goals and one assist in the last nine league games, Gnonto is in good form. This is all the more key given that Leeds should be without Georginio Rutter, while Daniel James is also not in the best of mindsets following his penalty miss for Wales. Should the Italian turn up on the night, Watford could be in for a difficult night.


Watford 1-3 Leeds United

While Watford will be buoyed by their win over Birmingham, Leeds United have the edge when it comes to tactics, squad quality and also depth. Daniel Farke and Co. will be keen to keep their good run going and hold the edge over Leicester City in the final run this season. The Hard Tackle predicts a comfortable 3-1 win for the visitors, solidifying their hold on the top spot in the EFL Championship.

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