In the first game of this season’s FA Cup, Chelsea will play host to the Championship side Watford on Sunday. After a disappointing 5-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspurs on Thursday night, Jose Mourinho’s side will look to make up for the horrible show at the White Hart Lane.
As we play our first game of the tournament which offers a chance at yet another silverware, let us have a look at the team we’ll be facing, in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Watford FC is based in Hertfordshire, England and was founded in 1881. The club entered the FA Cup for the first time in 1886 and the Football League in 1920, before which they had been competing successfully in the Southern League. For about the next six decades, the Hornets played in lower divisions of English football until 1977, when they went on to be promoted from Fourth Division to First Division under their then manager, Graham Taylor. After his departure in 1987, the club again experienced a series of decline. Taylor again returned to the club as a full-time manager in 1997 and saw the club getting successive promotions from the Second Division to the First Division. Their latest appearance in the Premier League was during 2006-07 season, and are currently competing in the Football League Championship.
Having played 24 games in the Championship so far, they stand at 5th position with 41 points to their name. Throughout this campaign, the team led by Slaviša Jokanovi? has managed 12 wins, 5 draws and 7 losses. Their recent form has been quite remarkable with 4 wins In their last 5 games, with a defeat in the Boxing Day fixture. What can be a concern for us is their away form. They have won all of their last 3 away games, and have the 3rd best away record in the Championship this season.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
Watford are known for playing in a 3-5-2 formation which requires the wide midfielders, Daniel Pudil and Ikechi Anya, to pivot back into defensive areas on demand. As the game progresses they may change to a 4-4-2, with Pudli dropping back. And that would have been very likely to happen against Chelsea, as Watford would try avoid a pressing game and play defensively against Chelsea. But looking at the Blues’ plight against a pressing side like Tottenham in their previous game, Slavisa Jokanovic may try to put pressure on Chelsea and make them relentless by sticking to 3-5-2.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
1. Troy Deeney- The 26 year-old striker is the man for Watford when it comes to finding goals. With 9 goals in all competitions this season, he can be a trouble for our centre backs tomorrow. With his physical strength, not only he gets past the defenders for his own chances but also tears apart defences to make way for his teammates. For young Kurt Zouma, who is likely to start in place of either Cahill or Terry, he will be a tough test and an interesting physical battle.
2. Almen Abdi- With 6 goals and 1 assist in all competitions this season, Abdi has been a key player in the squad. With his pacy runs, he can dribble past the defenders quite easily and also create spaces. The 28-year-old attacking midfielder, playing along with Deeney as the second forward in 3-5-2, has been known for getting into dangerous areas and clinch important goals.
While playing against Watford, Chelsea can make the best use of set pieces, long balls and crosses as the team in considerably weak at winning their aerial duels, according to WhoScored.com. Also the team has never been exposed to playing any side with skillful players in the Championship, so their defence may have a hard time dealing with our attacking players. According WhoScored.com, stopping opponents from creating chances and defending against skillful players also continue to be their very weak points.
HEAD TO HEAD
Throughout the history, the fixture has witnessed 25 games. While Chelsea have registered a win on 12 occasions, Watford have not been behind with 9 wins. 4 times, the game has ended in a draw. However, in the last 5 meetings between the two, the Blues have shown some real dominance by winning all 5 of them.
And the dominance is expected to continue on Sunday as well, as Chelsea will be looking to get back to their winning ways and move one step ahead on the way to winning the FA Cup.
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt