Southampton vs Watford Preview: Hornets aim to sting Saints in FA Cup fixture

Watford play their first game since the dismissal of Marco Silva as manager and the appointment of Javi Gracia as his successor.

Southampton vs Watford Preview: Hornets aim to sting Saints in FA Cup fixture
(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

A deflated Southampton team managed by Mauricio Pellegrino will host Watford this weekend with both sides eager to prove a point in the prestigious competition that is the FA Cup, as the south coast outfit entertain Javi Gracia's first managerial game in charge - the Fourth Round of this historic tournament. 

The Saints dropped into the Premier League's bottom three last Saturday despite their steady home draw to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, and with the pressure mounting on Pellegrino to deliver; the former Liverpool player will be hoping a FA Cup feat could save his job at St. Mary's

As for the visitors, Watford fell to a 2-0 loss at the weekend to the hands of Leicester City as goals from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez ensured the finale for Marco Silva at Vicarage Road as the ex-Hull City boss fell short and and lost his job - being replaced by Spaniard Javi Gracia. 

Southampton progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup thanks to a James Ward-Prowse goal on the road at Fulham in a 1-0 victory and Watford overcame Bristol City on home turf to make sure they were in the pot for this stage of the competition. 

 

Embed from Getty Images

​Several players on the mend for Saints

​In a period of disarray at Southampton, supporters have some news to be mildly excited about with the return of a number of first-team players to the matchday squad. 

Centre-half Maya Yoshida has been missing from the club's last two outings, against Watford and Spurs in the league, but Mauricio Pellegrino has confirmed the defender is available for selection this weekend. 

Attacker Shane Long is back in the picture for Southampton as well having recovered from a brief illness; a relief to Saints fans with the little attacking options in the team as Charlie Austin continues to watch from the sidelines with his long-term injury. The Irishman's return may mean teenage striker Michael Obafemi, who made his debut at 17 years-old against Tottenham Hotspur, could be dropped from the senior squad. 

​Hornets' injury list continues to grow

​Unfortunate for new manager Javi Gracia, several key players are absent from the first-team due to terms on the sidelines and that may dent his chances to make a good impression this Saturday away to Southampton. 

Midfield duo Will Hughes and Tom Cleverley are just two mentionable names in a long injury list at Vicarage Road, although the latter could face a late fitness test having been a doubt for the Leicester City last weekend. 

Watford advanced in last cup meeting

Southampton and Saturday's opposition have established themselves in the Premier League, albeit for the time being with their top-flight status' under serious threat due to poor form. 

However, the Saints and Hornets haven't locked horns in the FA Cup for fifteen years, last playing each other in this competition in 2003 for the semi-final in front of 42,000 supporters at Villa Park

Southampton found themselves in the lead as forward Brett Ormerod netted the opener moments before the half-time whistle. The advantage was doubled ten minutes from the whistle as defender Paul Robinson put the ball in the back of the net. Despite a late goal from Watford's Marcus Gayle, the Saints went into the FA Cup Final but Arsenal were crowned winners that season.