Watford vs Sunderland Preview: Two teams looking to return to winning ways

Watford welcome the visit of Sunderland this weekend in what could prove to be a crucial match in the top-flight relegation run-in.

The Hornets could still get dragged into a relegation battle yet while Sunderland have a lot of ground to make up if they are to survive another season of Premier League football.

Hornets need to return to form

Walter Mazzarri’s men come into this weekend’s tie against Sunderland without a victory in any of their last four Premier League outings – earning just one point from a possible 12.

A Troy Deeney own goal meant that the Hornets came away from their recent visit to Selhurst Park. Watford also came out on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller against Southampton in their last home game, almost a month ago.

Watford currently sit 14th in the Premier League but are seven points above Hull City in the final relegation spot and have a game in hand. The Hornets will be looking towards the magic 40-point mark meaning they need three wins from their remaining ten games.

Mazzarri’s side have scored in all three of their last home games and should find the net again against a weak Sunderland defence. Watford will be looking to close in on safety considering their run of fixtures in May sees them face Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City.

Moyes’ men need to find the net

Sunderland’s recent poor run of form has seen them slide to bottom of the Premier League and now they sit seven points from safety and two points from 19th-placed Middlesbrough.

The Black Cats have failed to score in any of their last four Premier League outings including three games at the Stadium of Light against Southampton, Manchester City and Burnley. In fact, Sunderland have only scored in one of their last eight games – a 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Jermain Defoe made a goal scoring return to the England national side against Lithuania and Sunderland will need to him find the net for them again if they are to overcome Watford this weekend and crawl their way to safety.

Sunderland will be eyeing the trip to Vicarage Road as a winnable game along with their upcoming fixtures against fellow strugglers Leicester, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, Hull and Swansea.

Team news

Watford will be without midfielder Valon Behrami who remains sidelined with a thigh injury while Christian Kabasele will also miss the game with a hip issue.

Ben Watson, Mauro Zarate and Roberto Pereyra will all miss the game while there are doubts over Troy Deeney and Sebastian Prodl.

Sunderland could welcome back Victor Anichebe and Lee Cattermole after long-term injuries however Steven Pienaar, Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore are all still out.

Last time the sides met

The sides last met in mid-December with Sunderland earning a valuable victory over the Hornets at the Stadium of Light. Patrick van Aanholt’s strike early in the second half moved the Black Cats off the bottom of the Premier League.

However, Sunderland’s most recent to Vicarage Road came on the final day of the 2015-16 season and the sides shared the spoils. Jack Rodwell put Sunderland ahead before Prodl’s header levelled for the hosts.

Jermain Lens, who assisted Sunderland’s first, put the visitors back in front however a Deeney penalty meant both sides would have to settle for a point. The game would be the last in charge for both Sam Allardyce and Quique Sanchez Flores with Watford and Sunderland finishing 13th and 17th, respectively.

Watford have won in just one of their last nine meetings with Sunderland.

Likely line-ups

Watford: Gomes; Cathcart, Kaboul, Prodl, Holebas; Capoue, Doucoure, Cleverley; Niang, Deeney, Okaka.

Sunderland: Pickford; Jones, Kone, Denayer, Oviedo; Gibson, Rodwell, Ndong; Borini, Defore, Janujaz.

Prediction: Watford 2-0 Sunderland.