Meetings between the two are typically fiery encounters, with Hornets legend Troy Deeney often drawing the ire of Villa fans.
To prepare for their latest clash, let’s have a look back at two of their past encounters. Both games were packed with drama and high emotions for totally different reasons.
Aston Villa 2-3 Watford (November 2015)
This was the first time the two sides had met in the Premier League.
Watford had just won promotion under Slaviša Jokanović before making a bright start to life in the top flight under Quique Sánchez Flores.
Villa, meanwhile, were in a deep crisis. They had lost 10 of their first 13 Premier League matches and had sacked manager Tim Sherwood. New manager Remi Garde had made a promising start with a draw to Manchester City, before slumping to a heavy defeat in his second match.
With no exaggeration, Villa were looking hopeless already. They showed no signs of shifting their defensive woes as they conceded a sloppy first goal in just 17 minutes when Ben Watson’s volley deflected off Ciaran Clark and Odion Ighalo stabbed it home, despite calls for offside.
Micah Richards scored his first Villa goal to pull Garde’s men level just before halftime.
The hosts were on top at halftime and looked to claim their first win since August. However, Watford went on to regain the lead in the 70th minute. It would be more accurate however to say that it was gifted to them as the goal was credited as Alan Hutton own goal.
As the Scotsman tried to pickpocket Ighalo, he instead sent the ball spinning past Brad Guzan into the empty net.
Villa’s perennial pantomime villain Deeney bagged the next goal through a bullet header. Kieran Richardson lost track of the Watford captain and he powered past Clark to head home a deflected cross. Jordan Ayew gave Villa a glimmer of hope with a fine goal from the edge of the box, but it wasn’t enough.
It was a shambolic defensive display from Villa, showing a pattern that they never changed all season. They conceded 76 goals throughout the 2015/16 season as they slumped to a miserable bottom-placed finish.
Aston Villa 2-1 Watford (January 2020)
Nearly five years on from their first meeting at Villa Park, Watford and Villa met again under familiar circumstances.
Villa were again struggling in their first season back in the Premier League and were without a recognised striker. Record signing Wesley picked up a season-ending injury on New Years Day while the club had sold Jonathan Kodjia days before. Winger Anwar El Ghazi was still deputising at striker while the club scratched around for new signings.
Watford were also struggling, having already sacked two managers that season. Javi Gracia had been sacked in September, while Sánchez Flores’ second spell at the club had been brought to a similarly quick end. Nigel Pearson had enjoyed a solid start to life in Hertfordshire and was unbeaten in six games. That run had included a 3-0 drubbing of Villa less than a month earlier.
The visitors were in complete control of the game at halftime, with Deeney scoring yet another goal in front of the Holte End. The powerful striker headed home a precision cross from Gerard Deulofeu.
Villa began the second half on the backfoot again, with new goalkeeper Pepe Reina making a smart reaction save from a Deeney shot. Villa’s entire mentality seemed to shift from there as they took the game to the visitors. In the 68th minute, Ben Foster parried a shot straight into the path of Douglas Luiz who graciously slammed home from close range.
Watford opted to shut up shop to try and see out the game, whilst Villa continued to push for that winner, but it seemed to be hopeless. However, deep into injury time, Ezri Konsafired a loose ball past Foster to claim a dramatic win for Dean Smith’s men. Konsa however had his goal took off him as it deflected off the back of Tyrone Mingsbefore going in.
Pandemonium ensued in the stands of Villa Park as they took a huge step towards survival. However, panic soon set in again as they went on to claim just two points out of the next possible 30. Villa secured a miracle survival at the end of the season by winning two of their final four games.