Burnley vs Watford Preview: Hornets look to continue winning start to the season

Burnley vs Watford Preview: Hornets look to continue winning start to the season

Can Watford profit from the Clarets heavy amount of games?

Danny Lloyd

Watford and Burnley face each other at Turf Moor this Sunday with both sides recording contrasting results on the opening weekend of the season.

The Hornets notched up an impressive victory against Brighton at Vicarage Road while the Clarets drew to Southampton in a stalemate.

Both sides have started the season well and they will be looking to keep this going into Sunday's game, but this will be no easy task.

Watford have also not won any of the last ten away games against Burnley and haven’t scored a competitive away goal since playing Manchester City in early January. Burnley, meanwhile, are winless in their last six games and have only kept one clean sheet in their last ten matches.

Contrasting opening day fortunes

Watford started their Premier League campaign in confident fashion, comfortably beating Brighton by two goals.

Against Brighton, Watford were defensively very solid and sharp up front with the help of their star man Roberto Pereyra, who scored both goals in fantastic style, causing the Brighton players heaps of trouble all game down the left-hand side.

Burnley were only able to achieve a goalless draw against a lacklustre Southampton side last Sunday, but they were by far the better team only being held to a draw due to the fantastic performance from Saints' goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

Burnley come off Europa League win

After Burnley’s more than impressive seventh-placed finish last season, they are now fighting for a spot in the Europa League group stages. After a goalless draw in the first leg of the second qualifying game on Thursday night, Burnley were able to clinch a 1-0 victory after extra time over Turkish side İstanbul Başakşehir thanks to a sublime finish from midfielder Jack Cork to progress to the final round of qualification.

Burnley played with high pressure, not allowing the opposition any time on the ball, which lead to them making numerous mistakes on the night. Joe Hart has now got two clean sheets from two matches, and yet again impressed on Thursday night making many vital saves.

However, since the game was played on Thursday, the Clarets only have two days after that to prepare for the Watford game. This is a big advantage for Watford as they have the whole week to focus and prepare for the match, whereas Burnley have had a couple of days.

Burnley played a full-strength side against İstanbul Başakşehir, which gives the impression that they will side a much weaker team against Watford, who will be hoping to profit from this.

Can Deeney and Gray cause problems?

After a season to forget for Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, where they scored a combined total of 10 goals, could this be the season where they shine in a two up top formation? Troy Deeney has looked like a different player so far in pre-season and against Brighton; looking a lot fitter, faster and powerful, although he still needs to be more clinical up front.

Andre Gray arrived at Watford with a hefty £18m transfer fee but never seemed to get off the mark in his first season, only scoring five goals in 31 league appearances. However, during pre-season, Andre Gray has seemed to rediscover his Burnley form after scoring an impressive four goals.

On top of that, last season, both Javi Gracia and Marco Silva never seemed to like the idea of playing two up front. During pre-season, though, Gracia has decided to change to a 4-4-2 formation, the same formation where Andre Gray and Sam Vokes were able to score 19 goals up front in the 2016/17 league season.

If Andre Gray can improve his finishing, both him and Deeney could create a great partnership and cause the Burnley defence a lot of problems.

No Deulofeu for Watford

Nick Pope is undergoing shoulder surgery so will not be available for the clash against Watford, as it looks like Joe Hart will get his second league start for the Clarets. Matej Vydra will not be making his debut for Burnley this Sunday as he is still short of match fitness after a disrupted pre-season at Derby.

Gerard Deulofeu will take no part in Sunday's game as he is still recovering from injury. As well as that, after suffering a knee injury just under a year ago, Chalobah has still yet returned to play consistently for the Hornets and it looks unlikely he will take any part in this week’s game. Tom Cleverly is also ruled out of this game as he looks to return from injury by autumn.

European hangover for Burnley?

Watford boss Javi Gracia has stated that he does not believe Watford have an advantage over Burnley and does not expect Burnley to suffer a European hangover when they return to premier league action this Sunday.

Javi Gracia believes Burnley have a good enough squad to cope with the heavy amount of games. He said: “They have a very good squad and I’m sure they won’t have any problem playing three games this week."

He has also stated that Kaboul and Zeegelaar’s future may not lie at Watford. “We’ll see in the next few days what will happen with Marvin and Kaboul because in this moment we have other players in the same position," said the Watford boss.

Sean Dyche has also expressed that he does not feel the increased amount of games will concern and affect Burnley against Watford this Sunday, saying: “The fitness here is unbelievable. The player’s mental and physical fitness is absolutely fantastic so they will be ready for Sunday".

Predicted line-ups:

Watford - Foster; Janmaat, Cathcart, Kabasele, Holebas; Hughes, Capoue, Pereyra, Sema; Deeney, Gray.

Burnley – Hart; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Ward; Lennon, Westwood, Cork, Gudmundsson, Hendrick; Wood