Premier League 17/18 Week 29: Watford vs West Bromwich Albion-Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Alan Pardew faces a make-or-break game as the Baggies take on the Hornets at Vicarage Road
15:00 GMT, Saturday 3rd March, Vicarage Road (Watford, England)
Javier Gracia’s side took a step closer to safety last week and will look to turn that into a stride this weekend when they face West Brom who sit at the foot of the table. The Hornets have endured a mixed season so far and they sit in the centre of the table with 33 points and 30 more still to play for. With 2 wins from their last 3 league games, they look to have turned yet another corner in a twisting season but Gracia now needs to show this is more than just a honeymoon.
For Alan Pardew, there has been no honeymoon following his union with Albion 3 months ago and talks of a divorce are already being whispered around the Hawthorns. Unluckily for the Baggies, there have been 13 goals conceded during their last five matches, all of which ending in defeat to leave them firmly rooted to the foot of the table. Having managed only 1 win from his 14 league games in charge, Pardew now needs to manage his team out of a seemingly impossible situation or risk losing his position to manage.
Last Time Out
Watford 1-0 Everton (Premier League)
A dull game was made more tolerable for the Hornets by Troy Deeney’s first goal of the season from open-play as they crawled to a win over the Toffees. In a match which was almost devoid of any excitement or sparks of quality, the biggest worry came in the loss of Gerard Deulofeu who hobbled out of the game after an hour with a stress fracture to his foot.
There was a pleasant surprise for Orestis Karnezis who kept his place in goal despite the return to fitness of Heurelho Gomes, a just reward for the Greek keeper who has shown great promise in recent weeks. The goal also came as a surprise considering the preceding 78-minutes had suggested the game would remain goalless. But while this was an ugly win for the Hornets, it was an important one which lifts them further away from the dangers which lurk below.
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Huddersfield Town (Premier League)
West Brom lacked potency in attack as their early determination fell into frustration before they slipped to yet another disappointing result. The Baggies started the game knowing they couldn’t afford another loss and their early play suggested they could manufacture a rare win from this game.
The front pairing of Salomón Rondón and Jay Rodriguez looked hungry, and both had good early chances to put their team ahead. Despite enjoying more possession, West Brom asserted no real authority on the game and Huddersfield grew as a threat throughout the match.
With the scores level at half-time, the second half saw the Terriers race into a two-goal lead within 11 minutes to leave the Baggies floundering. A reply came from a Craig Dawson header, however, West Brom could not build any pressure in the closing stages and Huddersfield held on for what ended a routine win for the visitors.
Gerard Deulofeu (foot) joins the extensive list of Molla Wagué (hamstring) Younes Kaboul (fitness) Craig Cathcart (knee) Christian Kabasele (hamstring) Tom Cleverley (hamstring) and Nathaniel Chalobah (knee) who are all sidelined for the Hornets. There should, however, be a return to the team for Francisco Femenía and Will Hughes while André Carrillo should be the player to replace Deulofeu on the right wing.
West Brom Lineup
Pardew will still be without on-loan striker Daniel Sturridge as the Liverpool forward continues to recover from yet another muscular injury. Nacer Chadli (thigh) and James Morrison (Achilles) will both also be missing from the matchday squad. Chris Brunt is expected to start this weekend with Gareth Barry the likely candidate to step out of the team following a poor game last weekend and Pardew suggesting the player could be carrying a knock heading into this weekend.
Key Battle: Richarlison (Watford) vs Chris Brunt (West Brom)
The young Brazilian star made more headlines than most Premier League players during the first half of this season but has since endured a quieter spell of form. The arrival of Gerard Deulofeu has pushed Richarlison out of the limelight, but the Spanish winger is injured this weekend. Therefore, the onus of attack will once more fall at the capable feet of the Brazilian who can dispel the idea that his dip in form is due to a lack of interest from him.
After being left out of the starting lineup for the last two matches, Brunt is expected to return to the side this weekend. The left-sided player came off the bench to provide some missing quality in attack for his side last weekend as is undoubtedly the best dead-ball player in the squad. For a team who carry a great aerial presence, this trait could be highly useful for the team.
Many clubs consider themselves to be an important part of their local community but Watford have a closer link than many of their Premier League rivals. This community spirit is likely to help the Hornets stage this match on Saturday after they issued an official plea for help from their fans.
With conditions far from ideal because of the current storm clouds overhead, the club is opening the gates to fans who volunteer their help in putting the fixture on. From clearing snow and removing ice in and around the ground to ensure the playing surface is fit for the game, fans are being asked to help ready the ground for matchday. With payment coming in the form of tea, coffee and a bacon sandwich, the volunteers will also earn a pair of complimentary tickets for the match which is likely to build a fantastic communal atmosphere in the stands when the players eventually make their way onto the pitch.
Following the revelations of taxi-gate, Alan Pardew’s ability to maintain discipline amongst his players was seriously called into question after four players broke their club curfew in Barcelona to commit a crime which brought shame to the club’s image.
New West Brom owner Lai Guochuan was reportedly incensed by this lack of respect and disobedience from his players with Pardew bearing most of the blame for failing to control his squad. Reports of disharmony in the dressing room after last weekend’s loss will not have helped the manager’s cause, with Chris Brunt launching a stinging rebuke on the players and manager as his frustrations boiled over.
For a successful Chinese businessman to see his club manager losing face is unlikely to put Pardew in a good light as will the fact that the players in question are still not delivering to their potential for the club.
Prediction: Watford 3-0 West Bromwich Albion
West Brom again face a game in which they must not lose, however, they’ve rarely shown either the quality or the belief this season that they can avoid the looming threat of relegation. Watford have slowly become more organised and better balanced under Gracia despite goals being in short supply. This weekend is likely to see a reaction from the insipid display they produced against Everton and if the Baggies heads drop in the game, there could be a healthy win in store for the Hornets.