This is our third meeting with Watford in the past 360 days and it'll be the third different Head Coach in the opposite dugout.
On 3 October, Xisco Muñoz was sacked, just five months after securing a top tier return for The Hornets. At the time, Watford were 14th with seven points from their opening seven league matches. Since then, under Claudio Ranieri, Watford have taken six points from their next eight outings to drop to 17th.
Those points under Ranieri have come on two incredible afternoons which saw The Hornets put five past Everton and then four past Manchester United. They have, however, shipped 19 in Ranieri's eight games and are the third leakiest defence in the division, conceding 29 so far.
Their 20 goals scored this term is more than four of the top nine, with summer signing Emmanuel Dennis' (pictured above) 11 goal contributions only bettered by Liverpool's Mo Salah (22).
Watford are yet to draw away from home this season, registering two wins and five defeats. Watford's seven road outings this term have seen 22 goals, the third highest mark in the top flight.
When asked for Hot Off The Press, Ryan Gray of the Watford Observer, said: "I would imagine it will be a 4-3-3, which [Ranieri] seems to have settled on after trying one or two other formations. Watford are not particularly strong at the back and there have been a few mistakes among the defenders, so he has very quickly realised that his strengths are in attack and they are playing with a high press. I think they will do pretty much the same on Friday night"
Sergi Canos is suspended and Ivan Toney remains out with Covid-19 but Mads Bech is back following his period of isolation. Zanka, Tariqe Fosu, Kris Ajer (all hamstring), Josh Dasilva (hip), Julian Jeanvier and David Raya (both knee) are also out tonight.
For Watford, Adam Masina (thigh) is missing, as is Francisco Sierralta (hamstring), but Ken Sema could return after a knee injury. Ben Foster (groin), Ismaila Sarr (knee), Peter Etebo (thigh), Kwadwo Baah (ankle) and Nicolas Nkoulou (hamstring) are Watford's longer-term injury issues.
- Brentford’s first eight home Premier League goals have all been scored by different players (Canos, Norgaard, Pinnock, Janelt, Wissa, Zanka, Henry and Toney), only the third team in Premier League history to achieve that, after Liverpool (first nine) and Wimbledon (first nine), both in 1992.
- Watford are the only team yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season, while the Hornets have conceded more Premier League goals than any other side since Claudio Ranieri’s first match in charge (19).
- Brentford are unbeaten in their last eight league matches played on a Friday (W6 D2) since a 2-0 home defeat to Fulham in November 2016. The Bees’ first ever Premier League match was a 2-0 victory over Arsenal, played on the opening Friday of this campaign.
- Watford’s Joshua King has been directly involved in nine goals in his last nine away starts in the Premier League (six goals and three assists), although the Norwegian has only found the net in two of his 26 away appearances in London, scoring against Crystal Palace in 2016 and 2019 for AFC Bournemouth.
70-year-old Claudio Ranieri holds a wealth of managerial experience, including three spells in England with Chelsea, Leicester City and Fulham. In his first season at Leicester, Ranieri achieved a remarkable feat, guiding the Foxes to their first ever Premier League title, which won him the 2016 FIFA Best Men’s Coach award, the 2015/16 Premier League Manager of the Season award and the 2016 LMA Manager of the Year award.
Ranieri enjoyed a successful playing career, playing for the likes of Roma, Palermo, Catania and Catanzano, winning four promotions as a defender.
His first venture into football management came in Italy with Vigor Lamezia. Ranieri led Cagliari to successive promotions in the early 1990s, later coaching Napoli, Fiorentina, Valencia and Atlético Madrid. Ranieri has held some of the biggest jobs in European football with Juventus, Inter Milan and Monaco, winning promotion to Ligue 1 at the latter.
Alongside his Premier League win, Ranieri has a Coppa Italia, SuperCoppa Italiana, Copa Del Rey, Intertoto Cup, and UEFA Super Cup to his name.
THE OPPOSITION VIEW
Claudio Ranieri told watfordfc.com: "Every match in the Premier League is a tough match, this one is very difficult. Last season I know Watford drew at home and lost the away match 2-0. I also know in a pre-season friendly match we lost here 3-1. Against Brentford it will be a very tough match, but we are ready to fight.
“I watched Brentford, and at the beginning it was fantastic how they pressed and how they play, and they continued in this way. It’s important to play with the right mentality, and Brentford are doing well. We must know what to do to try to win the match. It’s a well organised team, but we are also well organised and are ready for this battle.”
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Mike Dean
VAR: Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR: Dan Cook
210 fouls - Most in Premier League
33 yellow cards - Fifth-most in Premier League
1 red card - Third-most in Premier League
In line with recent Premier League guidance, we will be conducting a limited number of COVID-19 status spot checks.
At this point, the Club does not intend to (and are not required to) turn fans away if they are unable to show evidence of their Covid-19 status. However, this may be a requirement in the future if mandated by either the Government or Premier League.
Get to the ground early on matchday and enjoy big savings on food and drink inside the stadium.
HOW TO FOLLOW
Friday's game is live on Sky Sports and around the world through the Premier League's broadcast partners.
Supporters can also listen to live Bees Player commentary with Karleigh Osborne joining Mark Burridge.