GW23 Preview: Watford vs Burnley

At Vicarage Road this weekend, Watford welcome the return of Sean Dyche and Burnley. Early season action saw the Hornets pick up three points on the back of a 3-1 victory at Turf Moor. Andre Gray got off to a quick start just three minutes into the match, but James Tarkowski equalized moments later. Watford would prove too much as Will Hughes and Troy Deeney would score three minutes apart out of the the break to seal the victory.

This week, I don’t see much of a difference, as Watford is the superior team, while Burnley has struggled with midfield injuries, as Johan Berg Gudmundsson is questionable and Aaron Lennon continues to nurse a knee injury with no return date. The Clarets will continue without Robby Brady, who is suspended.

“We’re still stretched, we’re still looking to get back to a full squad, it’s been difficult this season but that’s what we’re looking to achieve. If it can’t happen this weekend then over the next couple of weeks,” said Dyche

Watford got word that Will Hughes will most likely miss out, due a concussion received last week. He was removed, against his judgment by Javi Gracia, bringing in Ken Sema, who struggled to keep up with the pacey Wilfried Zaha. This week, after his game winning goal it would be great to see Tom Cleverley get a start in Hughes’ absence. Defensively, Christian Kabasele continues his recovery and is training with the squad.

Watford did receive some positive news, as Andre Gray should be available, as he returns from injury. At this point, I don’t see him getting the start, even though he had a positive start to this season, scoring against the Clarets in the reverse fixture. No idea who Gracia will play it, but Gerard Deulofeu could return to the right flank, push Cleverley back to the bench and partner Gray with captain, Troy Deeney up top.

Deulofeu continues to be very dynamic on the ball, creating chances and making something out of nothing. However, his finishing, as well as that of Roberto Pereyra hasn’t been impressive. The pair hit the post within seconds of each other, as Pereyra followed up a Deulofeu shot.

The game will be won in the midfield, as Etienne Capoue and Abdoulaye Doucoure continue in fine form, as the field generals for the Golden Boys. It’s their holding play in the middle, as well as tracking back, not scoffing off their defensive duties that have made them invaluable this season.

Defensively, Watford conceded a from a corner last week, but defender Kiko Femenia said, “We know the Premier League season is very long and everything can change very quickly, so we must be ready and we must do our best for the next game.” Look for Adrian Mariappa to continue duties paired with one of last week’s heroes, Craig Cathcart, who drew the Hornets level.

The best defense starts with Ben Foster, he’s been one of the best in the Premier League the last 4-6 game weeks, while that is usually reflected in terms of clean sheets, he’s saved Watford more times than I can remember, making the routine saves and the difficult ones look easy. He’s playing at an MVP level for the Hornets and with Burnley struggling with their attack have an excellent opportunity for a clean sheet.

Watford need to be concerned with their set piece play that hasn’t looked strong. Tarkowski has been excellent in the air this season recording three goals off set pieces. As long as the Golden Boys can limit chances, they will hold Burnley and allow the attack to build going forward.

Prediction for this game, 2-1 as Watford look to pick up another three points as they eye a Europa League spot next season. Currently on 32 points, sitting 7th in the league table. Burnley have moved out of the relegation zone, on 21 points, in 15th but have conceded the second most goals (43) this season.

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