Watford vs Southampton – Premier League preview and team news

Southampton will be hoping for a win to ease their demanding opening to the new season, but face a potentially difficult test against a Watford side that has competed exceptionally well in both games since promotion.

With a bit of luck, the Hornets may have been coming into this game with maximum points, having come within minutes of winning away to Everton and then having the better of West Bromwich Albion for long periods without making a breakthrough. However, it has still been a reasonable start with their performances suggesting that they are not in the Premier League to merely make up the numbers, an impressive feat given the number of new players they have brought in over the summer.

The visitors have lacked pace at full-back in the campaign so far and vulnerabilities have been exposed, so that could play into the hands of Ikechi Anya, a player who has proven that he is full of pace and trickery at both club and international level in recent times. Also potentially in line to profit are adventurous Ecuadorian right-back Juan Carlos Paredes and forward Matej Vydra, who is surprisingly yet to feature in the league so far.

While they played well to comprehensively see off Vitesse Arnhem over two legs in the Europa League and then grab a late draw at Newcastle United, the last two Southampton performances have been far from convincing, and have lacked the resolve that so often characterised their efforts of 2014-15. Caught on the break to go behind to Everton last weekend, they responded poorly and errors crept into their game as they were on the end of a 3-0 defeat.

There was little improvement in their general play against Midjylland in the first leg of the final Europa League qualifying round on Thursday, but it was a singnificant evening for Jay Rodriguez, who converted from the penalty spot for his first goal since returning from 16 months out with a serious injury. Sadio Mane featured despite interest from Manchester United, which serves as confirmation of how much of an asset the former Red Bull Salzburg star has become in his year at the club.

Miguel Britos and Giedrius Arlauskis are back from suspension for Watford, who could give a debut to new loan signing Alessandro Diamanti if he receives international clearance in time.

Southampton are unlikely to make major changes from the Midjylland game, but are still without goalkeeper Fraser Forster, left-back Ryan Bertrand and midfielder Jordy Clasie.

Last Meeting (Premier League): Watford won a five-goal thriller in December 1999 in their only previous home outing against the Saints in the Premier League. They were two goals ahead by half-time through goals from David Perpetuini and Xavier Gravelaine, but the visitors launched a spirited comeback to draw level thanks to two goals in three minutes scored by Luis Boa Morte and Kevin Davies. Unfortunately for them, parity did not last long as Gravelaine scored the winner just before the three-quarter mark.

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