Watford - Leicester City Preview: Foxes looking to bounce back against the Hornets

Leicester are the visitors to Vicarage Road this weekend after a small slip-up against West Brom.

Watford - Leicester City Preview: Foxes looking to bounce back against the Hornets
Although it was only a draw, the Foxes' result against West Brom could turn out to be massive.Getty Images

Leicester City visit Watford on Saturday in search of three huge points in the title race.

Claudio Ranieri's men take the trip to Vicarage Road on Saturday in search of all three points after dropping two at home to West Bromwich Albion.

The Italian saw his team come from behind before being pegged back when they eventually took the lead. Watford lost 1-0 at Old Trafford after a late Juan Mata free-kick caught Heurelho Gomes off guard and looped into his back post. However, the Hornets put in a solid performance and were unlucky not to come away with at least a point.

The hosts' early season form seems to have fully worn off, seeing them slip to 12th with no real chance of relegation, whilst the visitors have maintained their form and currently find themselves three points clear at the summit. The Foxes seem to have all of the luck at the moment, seeing the other three top four teams all lose after they could only muster a draw against West Brom. 

Misfiring Strikers

When it comes to surprise packages, there's not many bigger than Jamie Vardy and his counterpart, Odion Ighalo. Both players have massively exceeded expectations this season, with Vardy leading the goalscoring charts and Ighalo sitting in fourth in the chart. However, neither player has been finding the net as frequently as earlier in the season. Whilst Vardy's recent run hasn't been too bad (four goals in six games) his performances will be alarming for Foxes fans as now is the time to put in the matchwinning performances he's shown all season.

Ighalo's baron run stretches back to nine Premier League games without a goal now which won't be happy reading for Hornets' fans who also need him to lead them to some vital points. This means that the Nigerian frontman is yet to score in this calendar year after scoring the most goals in 2015 from England's top four divisions. Watford's star man also missed a whole host of chances against Manchester United on Wednesday evening, but he did look sharp when in possession and did well to create some positive openings.​

Jamie Vardy's 'partner-in-crime', Riyad Mahrez has seen his goals dry up after scoring 14 league goals before Christmas. His last goals came away at Everton which was the game before Christmas. However, his assists certainly haven't dried up, with only Mesut Ozil of Arsenal to register more Premier League assists than the Algerian wizard. Although his performances seem to have dipped in recent weeks, it always seems that he either gets a goal or an assist, a sign of a truly class player. If the Foxes are to pull off the impossible, it's imperative that the 25-year-old's performances improve to give them that final push over the finish line. The promise of Champions League football should really be an incentive for him to up his game to a level that we've not yet seen.

Defensive solidity

Both sides have been tight defensively this season, especially quite recently, the hosts have only conceded five goals in their last eight league games whilst the Foxes have only let in six league goals since the turn of the year. Both teams are in the top six for least goals against: Watford on 29, Leicester on 31. Although Leicester have conceded a couple more than the Hornets, they're massively superior in the goals for department, with 51 goals to Watford's 29. Other than the 5-2 drumming to Arsenal at the King Power Stadium earlier in the season, the Foxes haven't conceded more than two goals in a game which is a record that goes all the way back to the start of last season, under the guidance of Nigel Pearson.

Watford have enjoyed a great defensive return to the Premier League, with every other team in the bottom half of the table conceding at least seven more goals than Quique Flores'  men. This may well be down to the fact that the Spaniard had a defensive role in his playing days at some quite high profile clubs like Valencia and Real Madrid.

His defensive tactics seem very much like they're from a Spanish background, always looking to play the ball out of defence as opposed to the more 'long ball' approach from Leicester's centre-backs. However, the approach seems to be working a treat for the Midlands club as they've shot to the top of the table and stayed around the top for the whole season.

The long ball approach is heavily mixed with a fast, one-touch passing approach deployed by Italian, Claudio Ranieri. Unlike many other teams who play a 'total football' game, the Foxes never see a lot of possession but it's the devastating counter-attack that has hurt so many teams this season. With the pace of N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, there aren't many teams who would be able to keep up and there haven't been many at all this season.

Team news

After Jeffrey Schlupp's return in the last two games for Leicester, it only leaves two players out of action. One is the Foxes' engine, N'Golo Kante, who will be massively missed, however, the Frenchman is only out for Saturday's game after missing out against West Brom according to Ranieri. The other player is Matty James, who has been unavailable for a long time now, but should make a return at some point in the near future. Leicester have been very lucky with a massive lack of injuries to their best players, and, other than Kante, it looks set to continue.

Watford have also only got two recognised absentees for this weekend's clash, they come in the form of Joel Ekstrand, who picked up a hamstring injury towards the back end of January and Jose Jurado who sustained an injury last month. In terms of injuries, the two sides have the least sidelined players in the league, apart from Swansea, which hasn't been the story of the season for Watford, who have struggled at times with a high amount of injuries.

Predicted Line-Ups

Watford - Heurelho Gomes, Allan Nyom, Sebastian Prodl, Miguel Britos, Nathan Ake; Ettiene Capoue, Almen Abdi, Ben Watson, Valon Behrami; Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo

Leicester City - Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, Christian Fuchs, Marc Albrighton, Andy King, Danny Drinkwater, Riyad Mahrez; Jamie Vardy, Shinji Okazaki