Pre-match analysis: How the Hornets could sting the Tigers

Watford host Hull on Saturday who have picked up just one point in their last seven league games.

Pre-match analysis: How the Hornets could sting the Tigers
Mazzarri has gradually been embedding his tactical plans (photo: Getty Images)

If this fixture was stowed upon you last season, the formations and style of play for either side would differ dramatically.

With one team entering a new era under a different manager and the other forced into a tactical change by injuries, Saturday's encounter could depend on what players can settle into their roles in the most effective manner.

The 3-5-2 battle

Walter Mazzarri joined Watford in the summer and brought a typically Italian 3-5-2 formation with him.

The Hornets have since enjoyed a reasonable start to the campaign as they sit in ninth, though the fans may admit they have barely been entertained by a handful of conservative displays. 

Meanwhile Hull City are likely to utilise the same formation after experimenting with it against Bristol City during the week. 

Manager Mike Phelan had his hand forced following a number of injuries to key defenders and could look to match the hosts player for player across the pitch.

The dilemna for Huddlestone

If the predictions are correct, such a tactical contest could lead to some intriguing battles. Watford's main talisman this season has been Etienne Capoue in the central of midfield.

With the possibility of six players congesting this area, it will take a quantity of class to excel in the engine room, though Capoue is the most likely to affect proceedings in the middle of the park.

Capoue has already scored four goals this season (photo: Getty Images)
Capoue has already scored four goals this season (photo: Getty Images)

Capoue will occasionally make runs from deep, posing an added problem for Hull's anchor in midfield Tom Huddlestone.

The experienced campaigner barely figured in the Tigers' latest league defeat last weekend and will already have his hands full with Watford captain Troy Deeney who will drop off Odion Ighalo in an attempt to link play.

Holebas could enjoy a fruitful afternoon

Recent defeats for Hull have clearly exposed their weaknesses at full-back. Sam Clucas is likely to continue on the left but it is the other side of the pitch that will be a key point of focus.

Ahmed Elmohamady is playing deeper than he would like and has been exposed by the likes of Jordon Ibe and Marko Arnautovic in recent weeks.

With Jose Holebas relishing the freedom of his position for the hosts, life will not get any easier for the Egyptian this weekend.

Watford have improved defensively in the last couple of games, as you would expect under an Italian manager. This is another area that does not bode well for the visitors, with Abel Hernandez and Will Keane both struggling to find the back of the net for Hull.

The Tigers will rely upon spirit and hope that their midweek victory can spur them on to a much needed three points.

Yet they will have to work hard if they are going to defeat a Watford side beginning to string together a good run of form.