Watford will be hoping to win at home in the league for the first time since January 23 when they take on already relegated Aston Villa, whose run of defeats now stands at a demoralising nine matches.
After several weeks of anticipation, it has to be said that Watford were just not good enough in their FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace as they struggled to create many meaningful scoring chances and generally lacked a cutting edge from open play. A lot of work went into their performance as the midfield fought hard to gain superiority, but the difference was that they had less spark than their opponents. Nonetheless, it was a fine run that took them to the last four and that combined with the league campaign ensures that the club is in a very good place at present.
However, a little doubt has arisen in recent days surrounding the long-term future of manager Quique Flores, who is reportedly set to hold an end of season review with the owners once the club has played its final four games. Any talk of the Spaniard possibly losing his job in the summer seems absurd, but all the same a positive finish will help to remove any speculation. A game such as this should provide the perfect opportunity to begin those attempts.
It is just one thing after the next at Aston Villa as their latest defeat at home to Southampton was marred by the resignation of two recently appointed senior board members, the suspension of the club’s longest serving player Gabriel Agbonlahor, and defender Jores Okore apparently refusing to play. In amongst all that were more protests from supporters which led to owner Randy Lerner shouldering the blame for their plight, while basic defensive principles seem to remain elusive to the playing staff.
Much of the damage done to them by the Saints was self-inflicted, with a double for Ashley Westwood merely making the final scoreline that little bit more respectable. The end of the season cannot come too soon for everyone so they can rebuild ahead what promises to be a mightily difficult assignment in the Championship. The aim here will surely be to end the losing run, and simply be competitive.
Etienne Capoue was forced off during the first half at Wembley and will miss Watford’s remaining games. He will be replaced by either Mario Suarez or Valon Behrami.
Micah Richards is expected to be out for Aston Villa, so is likely to make way for the returning Ciaran Clark.
Last Meeting: Goalkeepers were on top in September 2006 as the two clubs played out a goalless draw. Aston Villa were initially the dominant force as Stiliyan Petrov and Gabriel Agbonlahor were both denied by Ben Foster, but Watford came on strong towards the end as Danish stopper Thomas Sorensen brilliantly kept out Hameur Bouazza and Malky Mackay.