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First Team

Hot Off The Press: Watford

Ryan Gray of the Watford Observer previews tonight's clash

15 December 2020

Watford sit fourth in the Championship table ahead of Tuesday’s game, just a point behind second-placed Bournemouth and four behind current leaders Norwich. How have things gone so far?

Just looking at the results would suggest the season isn’t going too badly. The performances haven’t quite been as good as the points tally might suggest but it’s not a bad place to be when you have got that room for improvement.

Last season ended in relegation from the Premier League, with four different managers taking charge across the campaign. With that in mind, how important was it that Vladimir Ivic got off to a good start?

Sacking three managers in a season isn’t exactly the sign of a patient ownership so, more than anything, they needed the stability. They had three different styles of coaching last season before they ended up with Hayden Mullins, who was just brought up from the U23s. I don’t think it was easy for the players to keep having to change the way they were being asked to play so, for that reason alone, I think it’s good that Ivic has got off to a good start. I don’t think he has been particularly happy with how the team has been playing and he seems very set in his ways that he won’t be happy until he has achieved promotion.

While they’ve been near-faultless at Vicarage Road - with seven wins from nine so far – they’ve drawn a five from nine of their games on the road. Is there any particular factor that has prevented them killing games off?

It is difficult to say because, whenever we speak to Vladimir about that, he’ll say that he’s setting the team out in the same way and is not going away from home with the idea of getting a point or just playing for a point. He is wanting his team to go out and attack, to be aggressive and to try and win. It’s difficult to say but they’ve actually only won three times on the road since last November, so it’s a definite concern.

There’s no doubt the club boast one of the best squads in the division, but which player has impressed you most so far?

So far, I’ve been most impressed by young Joao Pedro (pictured above). They signed him a couple of years ago from Fluminense but he only joined in January and didn’t get too many opportunities in the Premier League, for obvious reasons. I don’t think they wanted to get an 18-year-old to try and salvage their hopes of staying in the top flight. He’s really flourished now, particularly at the start of the season when a lot of players like Troy Deeney and Andre Gray were still injured or unavailable and he had to step up. He’s naturally a wide player rather than a centre forward but he’s come in and done the job. He’s scored five goals already this season and, for a 19-year-old, that’s not bad going at all.

How is Ivic likely to set up his side on Tuesday night?

I’d imagine it will be a 4-4-2. They started out using a back five, which was very good defensively but they weren’t creating very much in attack so, over the last few weeks, Ivic has switched to a 4-4-2, which has seen them put four past Preston. They also did very well against Rotherham last week, and though the second half wasn’t quite as good, they were a lot more creative.

You have to go all the way back to April 1977 for Brentford’s last victory in this game. What’s your score prediction for this one?

I think it’s going to be a tough one for Watford, but I think they might just edge it 2-1.

Tuesday's game is live on Sky Sports as well as iFollow for Season Ticket and Premium Seat Members who froze their 20/21 Season Tickets. 

Audio Match Passes to listen live are available to buy for £2.50 

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