Watford and Leicester City meet at Vicarage Road on Saturday evening, with the visitors looking to continue their shock title charge, and the hosts looking for that one win to get them over the magical 40-point mark.
The Hornets were left deeply frustrated at Old Trafford, after creating numerous opportunities and failing to convert. While performances like Wednesday’s can be considered a positive, to make amends with three points is all that Quique Sanchez Flores will be after from this one.
That’s not going to be easy against a rampant Leicester side, however. Claudio Ranieri’s men were held to a home 2-2 draw by West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, but sat back and watched the next night as all of their title rivals lost. That will give the Foxes extra impetus for this one, and they will fancy their chances of another solid weekend.
The Hornets’ shape is tricky to predict at the moment, with the 4-4-2 and 4-3-2-1 formations seemingly interchangeable according to Flores' mood. No sooner had 4-3-2-1 appeared settled as Watford’s new system, than they reverted back to 4-4-2 at Old Trafford and left everyone guessing again.
What’s for sure is that whatever Flores chooses, it is bound to be with stopping in Leicester in mind, as is the Spaniard’s want. The Hornets’ setup is usually decided by what’s best defensively, rather than offensively, and when Flores has worked out the best way to stop the Foxes then he will decide upon the system and players.
Odion Ighalo’s inclusion, or not, will be of interest, after he missed a hatful of glorious chances at Manchester United, while Troy Deeney is far more likely to be included.
Leicester are unlikely to change much of what has taken them to the top, with certain crucial match-winners evidently the key to three more points.
Riyad Mahrez will be afforded something of a free role from the right-hand side, with the Algerian’s creativity perfectly complimenting Jamie Vardy’s pace upfront. N’Golo Kante’s fitness is in doubt, after he missed the game with West Brom, and his presence could be a crucial factor in deciding this game.
Kante’s ability to pressurise the opposition at all times is crucial, and could be the difference between victory and defeat.
When they last met
The sides last met back in November, when the Foxes were surprising everybody by their presence inside the top four, let alone the title race.
In what is considered Heurelho Gomes only bad game in a year-and-a-half stint at Watford, the Foxes were gifted an opener when Kante poked staright through the goalkeeper’s hands and into the corner.
And they soon made it two. Vardy raced away onto a long ball, was brought down by a hapless Gomes, and did the business from the spot.
Troy Deeney’s spot-kick got the visitors back into it, but it wasn’t enough and the hosts claimed three more valuable points.
Their story since has been well documented, while Watford quickly went on a four-match winning run to all but seal their safety from relegation before Christmas.
Spanish playmaker Jose Manuel Jurado may miss out again with a niggling calf injury, while Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand are still long-term absentees.
The fitness of Kante will leave Ranieri sweating until the last moment, but, other than that, the same formula which has worked a treat will surely be utilised again. While there is sure to be some fatigue in the team, there is too much confidence and momentum in that Foxes dressing room to make changes now.
Watford (4-3-2-1): Gomes; Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake; Capoue, Watson, Behrami; Amrabat, Deeney; Ighalo.
Leicester City (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, King, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Vardy, Okazaki.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Leicester