Match Preview | Cardiff City vs. Watford
OPPOSITION FOCUS | IN THE DUGOUT
The Hornets are managed by Valérien Ismaël, who was appointed in May this year, replacing former boss Chris Wilder.
Ismaël brings vast experience to Vicarage Road, both as a player and a manager. During his playing days, the Frenchman represented European giants Bayern Munich, where he won the league and cup double in 2006.
Switching to management with Hannover in 2011, Ismaël has since gained a taste of life in the Championship with both Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion, prior to his move to Hertfordshire.
Since taking over at Watford, Ismaël has won just two of his opening 11 matches, with a win percentage of 18.18%.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | SUMMER BUSINESS
It was a summer of significant departures for Watford ahead of this season, with striker João Pedro taking the step to the Premier League with Brighton and Hove Albion, while winger Ismaïla Sarr moved to French side Marseille.
The Hornets also lost centre-back Christian Kabasele, who signed for Udinese in the Italian Serie A.
Having lost a number of key players, the club recruited six new signings in the off season. The most notable arrival was striker Mileta Rajovic, who joined from Swedish side Kalmar FF, for whom he netted seven goals in 20 league appearances.
Championship experience has also been added with the signings of winger Tom Ince, midfielder Jake Livermore and left-back Jamal Lewis, while the Hornets signed a familiar face to Bluebirds fans with the arrival of striker Rhys Healey from Toulouse.
Georgian midfielder Giorgi Chakvetadze has also moved to Vicarage Road on loan from Belgian side KAA Gent.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | SEASON SO FAR
So far this season, Ismaël’s side have struggled to adapt without the likes of Pedro and Sarr, claiming just two wins from their opening 10 matches.
The Hornets are without a win in their last four fixtures, having recently suffered defeats to Leeds United and Middlesbrough, before facing Sunderland in midweek. Travelling to the Stadium of Light, the side fell to a 2-0 loss.
Their away form is ranked 22nd in the Championship this season, having drawn one and lost three of their four fixtures on their travels.
CLUB CONNECTION | NEAL ARDLEY
Having come through the ranks at Wimbledon and broken into the first team, Neal Ardley caught the attention of Watford, who signed the winger in 2002.
Ardley’s time with the Hornets included two impressive cup runs, reaching the FA Cup semi-final in 2003, as well as the League Cup semi-final in 2005.
Going on to make over 100 league appearances for the Club, Ardley joined the Bluebirds in March 2005.
He spent one season in the Welsh capital, finding the net against Leicester City in April 2005.
Having retired from playing in 2007, Ardley was named manager of the Bluebirds’ Academy, spending five years in the role, with the likes of Joe Ralls breaking into the City First Team.
Ardley is currently the manager of National League outfit York City, having left Solihull Moors in June.