Match Preview | Cardiff City vs. Watford
OPPOSITION FOCUS | IN THE DUGOUT
Watford’s current manager is Slaven Bilić, who was appointed in September, following the departure of Rob Edwards.
Bilić began his managerial career with Croatian side Hajduk Split, before moving on to the national team, firstly leading the U21 side.
In 2006, Bilić took the step to manage the Croatian national team, where he spent six years, before returning to club management with Lokomotiv Moscow.
With his stock continuing to rise during a two-year spell with Turkish outfit Beşiktaş, the former Premier League defender was appointed as manager of West Ham United in 2015, going on to become the first manager to lead the Hammers to victory over Liverpool at Anfield since 1963.
In between posts at Al-Ittihad and Beijing Guoan, Bilić gained further experience in English football with West Bromwich Albion, leading them to promotion in the 2019/20 season.
Taking over the Hornets this season, his first game in charge was an impressive 4-0 win at Stoke City.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | KEY PLAYER
Winger Ismaïla Sarr has impressed since signing for Watford in 2019 from Ligue 1 club Rennes, amassing over 100 league appearances.
In February 2020, Sarr netted two goals and recorded an assist in the Hornets’ memorable 3-0 win over Liverpool, which ended the Reds’ 44-match unbeaten run.
Another memorable moment for the attacker came in April 2021, when his penalty in a 1-0 win over Millwall sealed the Hornets’ promotion.
So far this season, the Senegalese international has scored five goals and assisted on four occasions, averaging a goal every 194 minutes, with a shot accuracy of 65%.
CLUB CONNECTIONS | BLUEBIRDS AND HORNETS
There have been a number of players to have donned the shirts of both the Bluebirds and the Hornets, including attacker Garry Thompson, who spent two years each at Ninian Park and Vicarage Road.
Wales boss Rob Page made over 200 league appearances during a successful time for the Hornets, winning the Second Division in 1998 and the First Division play-offs in the following season. His time at City was short, making nine appearances for the Bluebirds during the 2004-05 season.
Iceland legend Heiðar Helguson had two spells with the Hornets. His first Club in England was Watford, where he spent six years from 1999-2005. He returned to the Club for a loan spell in 2009. The powerful forward made the switch to the Welsh capital in 2012, netting eight league goals and playing a key part in our promotion winning side.
Another promotion winning specialist Matthew Connolly had a loan spell with the Hornets from the Bluebirds, winning promotion with City in 2013 & 2018 and Watford, while with them for a temporary spell, in 2015.
City’s Goalkeeping Coach, Graham Stack, joined the Club this summer, having previously held the role at Watford, also enjoying four Premier League matches in caretaker charge of the Hornets alongside Hayden Mullins.
CITY FLASHBACK | LE FONDRE SEALS VICARAGE WIN IN 2014
The Bluebirds travelled to Vicarage Road in November 2014 in search of their first away win of the season and found it with a fantastic result.
Facing a strong Hornets side, striker Troy Deeney went close to giving the hosts the lead early-on, but City defender John Brayford brilliantly cleared off the line.
Russell Slade’s side put in a great defensive display to soak up early pressure, before netting in the 12th minute through Adam Le Fondre.
The striker was on-hand to tap home, after fellow attacker Kenwyne Jones’ header struck the post, which proved to be the difference between the two sides, as City recorded a fine away victory.