Stoke City - Watford Preview: Hornets hoping to end Potters' winning run
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)

Watford head to the Britannia Stadium after a three games without a victory, to face a Stoke side currently flying after three wins on the bounce.

Mark Hughes' men took some time to get going after making numerous summer signings but now that they have all been integrated into the side and are fit and firing, they will be ready to go again against Watford here.

Quique Sanchez Flores’ side have struggled in recent weeks though were excellent against Arsenal last week, creating numerous chances without reward before being outplayed in the last 25 minutes.

If the Hornets can keep up that intensity and quality of performance then they will have a chance, but the reality is that this is going to be another tricky afternoon for the Hornets.

Tactics

For Stoke, it was always going to be about integration and cohesiveness of their new additions, after a busy summer in which they went after big names.

The 4-2-3-1 formation which Hughes has plumped for looks to be an excellent fit for his side. He can use plenty of his explosive attacking options in that front four, while maintaining a good shape for the rest of the team so that they are hard to break down.

At the crux of this is Bojan, the ex-Barcelona starlet, who is like a new signing since his return from injury at the beginning of this season. He can create goals out of nowhere and with even better players around him, he is going to be one man that Watford badly need to stop.

Charlie Adam and Glenn Whelan offer some security in midfield, while Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters offer decent variety off the bench.

Watford meanwhile will continue to be careful and cautious in their approach, as they attempt not to get swallowed by the Premier League’s giants.

Ben Watson and Etienne Capoue will continue to patrol the midfield in a way that has been successful all season for the Hornets, while Ikechi Anya and Odion Ighalo will offer the pace to complement Troy Deeney’s power in attack.

Allan Nyom has been superb up against a multitude of good winners so far this season and he will look to do the same job on Xherdan Shaqiri here but there is no doubt that this is going to be a tricky encounter for the visitors.

Previous meeting

The two sides last met at Vicarage Road back in March 2008, with both looking to claim automatic promotion from the Championship into the Premier League.

The game was an eventful one, with John Eustace, who had signed for Watford from the Potters in that January, sent off in the first half for a dangerously high foot.

The game remained goalless with chances at both ends, but Stoke were ultimately the happier of the two as they finished 2nd to be promoted and Watford lost in the playoffs.

Injury news

Ryan Shawcross will miss out for Stoke again, as he continues his rehabilitation from injury but Walters may be fit enough to feature on the bench for Hughes’ side. The big plus is the continually improving fitness of Bojan, who appears to have responded well from his cruciate knee ligament injury.

For Watford, Jose Manual Jurado remains out with a hamstring problem. Valon Behrami could also miss out after picking up a knock during the recent international break. Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban are long-term absentees.

Predicted teams

Stoke (4-2-3-1): Butland; Johnson, Wollscheid, Cameron, Pieters; Adam, Whelan; Arnautovic, Bojan, Shaqiri; Joselu.

Watford (4-2-3-1): Gomes; Nyom, Prodl, Cathcart, Ake; Capoue, Watson; Abdi, Deeney, Anya; Ighalo.

Prediction: Stoke 2-1 Watford

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