SCOUT'S REPORT: WATFORD
Club News4th April
Cardiff City visit Watford in Saturday's late kick-off, for what could be a definining fixture in the race for promotion.
After the Hornets’ impressive win at Hull on Tuesday, things are really heating up going into the final few weeks. With the points difference now down to eight points between first and third, it makes Saturday's result that much more important.
Before their win at the KC Stadium, Gianfranco Zola’s men were winless in three games. They only picked up the one point in their 3-3 home draw with Burnley after losing against Barnsley and Blackpool.
Watford have it all to play for with them now just one point behind second placed Hull City. The Bluebirds defence will have their work cut out Saturday evening though as they line up against the top scorers in the league. Watford have netted seventy-six goals in their forty fixtures and have a goal difference of twenty-five.
But in recent games there have been some defensive problems for Zola, with the win against Hull their only clean sheet in the last seven games.
Key Players: The Hornets squad is not short of goal scorers with no fewer than three players in double figures this season. Championship player of the year Matej Vydra has managed twenty goals since joining on loan from Udinese. Troy Deeney got his sixteenth of the season against Hull, while the exciting prospect Almen Abdi has netted ten himself.
From midfield, Abdi has also managed eight assists. He is not the only influential player in the centre of the park, though with Jonathan Hogg having featured in thirty-three of the forty league fixtures. Only Vydra and Manuel Almunia have played more.
Indeed Almunia has missed the last few fixtures for the Yellow Army but may return for Saturday. If not, Wales Under 19 international Jonathan Bond will be between the sticks for his eighth league appearance.
Previous Meetings: Cardiff have the upper hand when it comes to the head-to-head record with twenty-one wins from fifty-two fixtures. Watford have won eighteen games with there being thirteen draws.
Both fixtures last season ended in a 1-1 draw and with the two sides' current form, indications are that this game could very well be another close fought affair. Six of the last ten games have produced four goals or more, with the two teams being two of the three top scoring teams in the league. Don't rule out a goal-fest!
Last meeting: Cardiff City 2–1 Watford (23/09/2012)
It took until injury time for Aron Gunnarsson to clinch all three points against nine-man Watford. It also meant that Cardiff kept their 100% home record in tact. Tommie Hoban had given the visitors the lead after twenty-eight minutes after turning home Marco Cassetti’s saved header, with the goal very much coming against the run of play.
Cardiff were handed a lifeline on sixty-four minutes though when Daniel Pudil was dismissed for striking out at Craig Noone. City seemed to be taking advantage when equalising from the penalty spot, Peter Whittingham converting after a Nathaniel Chalobah handball. Watford were then down to nine men just a minute later when Chalobah picked up his second yellow, before Gunnarsson headed home in injury time from a Craig Noone cross to make it 2-1.
Cardiff City Line-up: Marshall, Taylor, Hudson, Turner (Gestede), Connolly, Whittingham, Cowie, Noone, Smith (Gunnarsson), Helguson, Bellamy (Mason). Subs not used: Lewis, McNaughton, Conway, Kim.
Watford Line-up: Almunia, Hall, Doyley, Pudil, Cassetti, Hoban, Yeates, Hogg, Chalobah, Vydra (Anya), Geijo (Deeney). Subs not used: Bond, Thompson, Murray, Abdi, Forrestieri.