Wednesday 19th October 2011 @ The King Power Stadium
Leicester City currently occupy 12th place in the Championship table going into Tuesday’s game against The Hornets. They finished last season in 10th place, just 8 points off the play-offs, and following a huge cash injection over the summer, were touted by many pundits to be the team that ‘would walk away with it’ this season. However, so far this campaign, it’s fair to say that it’s just not happening for Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men. They have so far won just 4 of their opening 11 fixtures, picking up 4 draws along the way, and so have amassed 16 points from a possible 33 – despite this, they are just 2 points off the 6th place spot. They went into the international break on the back of a 4-0 win over table-top-contending Derby County, however, on Sunday afternoon, they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham City, in what could only be described as a ‘poor display’ at St Andrews.
Watford on the other hand, go into the game on the back of 3 losses in the last 4, with the 2-1 win over Millwall proving to be the only points that they’ve put on the board in the last month. The 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace at the weekend was yet just another painful reminder to Dyche’s men that performances need to improve… fast. Despite Joe Garner hitting the post in the first half, the inability of any of the Watford strikers to stick the ball in the back of the net told again, with Palace scoring 2 goals in the last 20 minutes to take all the points away from Vicarage Road. As a result, The Hornets slipped to 20th place, sitting just 2 points above the bottom 3, and can boast just 2 wins and 4 draws from their opening 11 fixtures.
The summer transfer window saw large numbers coming and going at Leicester, with numerous younger players leaving on loan or to lower league clubs. The most notable departures were those of Jack Hobbs to Hull, Tunchev on loan to Crystal Palace, Danny N’Guessan to Millwall and also Martyn Waghorn on loan to Hull. However, there was a vast amount of investment in strengthening the squad with the likes of Lee Peltier (Huddersfield), Neil Danns (Palace/Unattached), Kaspar Schmeichel (Leeds), Sean St Ledger (Preston), David Nugent (Burnley/Unattached), Paul Konchesky (Liverpool), John Pantsil, Michael Ball and Michael Johnson (loan), Gelson Fernandez (Loan, St Etienne), as well as spending £5m on Reading’s Matt Mills, and a further £3m on Everton’s Jermaine Beckford. All of these deals to strengthen a squad which performed very well in the league last season.
Games between these two sides normally yield many goals, with 28 goals being scored between them in the past 6 meetings. However, when Watford have come out on top, it has normally been a close game, whereas Leicester have put 4 past The Hornets three times in the past 6 games, in games which have proved to be fairly comfortable victories.
Whilst it’s clear will take a lot for Watford to take anything away from the King Power Stadium, it is no secret that Sean Dyche needs his men to start picking up points if he wants his job to be made any easier – and against the strength and resources that Leicester have to offer – it could be a monumental task on Wednesday evening. However, Leicester are going into the game on the back of a poor showing against Birmingham in a game where captain Matt Mills was dismissed for a reckless two-footed lunge. He will be absent with a 3 game suspension. Still, anyone can beat anyone in the Championship on their day – and it’s about time Watford turned in another performance like the one they produced at the Madjeski earlier this season. Time to dig deep for Dyche!
Kaspar Schmeichel (Goalkeeper)
The son of former Manchester United keeper, and Danish International, Peter Schmeichel, began his career at Manchester City. Whilst he did not play much at Eastlands, his time there saw him undergo loan spells at Darlington, Bury, Falkirk, Cardiff and Coventry, before moving permanently to Notts County in 2009. His performances in that campaign earned him a move to Leeds the following summer, and his stay at Elland Road lasted just a single season, as he was subject to a transfer to Leicester City in the summer of 2011. Schmeichel was shown a red card earlier this season against Nottingham Forest, after being shown two yellow-cards in two minutes. The first for moving the ball after Lewis McGugan had placed the ball on the spot, and then for throwing it away after the penalty had been scored. He apologised and claimed after the game he did not see the first yellow as he was “looking the other way”. A great Championship keeper on his day, who could prove very difficult to beat, especially with the form of the Watford strike-force.
Watford have one fresh injury concern ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Leicester. Whilst Stephen McGinn (Knee) is still absent with his long-term injury, centre back Martin Taylor was substituted against Palace on Saturday afternoon having picked up a knock. He could be doubtful.
Michael Kightly’s encouraging debut performance will have probably ensured he will start this game, and with Watford desperately lacking in the goals department, Dyche could look to his alternative options to produce an end product in this department.
Watford Starting XI vs Crystal Palace (L 0-2):
Doyley – Mariappa – Taylor – Dickinson
Kightly – Eustace – Hogg – Forsyth
Sordell – Garner
Subs: Gilmartin, Mirfin, Yeates, Buaben, Iwelumo
Leicester captain Matt Mills – a £5m summer signing from championship rivals Reading – will be absent as he starts a 3-match suspension following his sending off on Sunday afternoon against Birmingham.
Aside from this, Leicester seem to have a relatively full squad to select from for this fixture.
Leicester Starting XI vs Birmingham (L 0-2):
Peltier – Mills – Bamba – Konchesky
Danns – Fernandez
Vassell – Nugent
Subs: Weale, Johnson, Wellens, Pantsil, Beckford
25/04/11 Leicester 4-2 Watford
04/12/10 Watford 3-2 Leicester
17/04/10 Leicester 4-1 Watford
19/09/09 Watford 3-3 Leicester
12/02/08 Watford 1-0 Leicester
25/08/07 Leicester 4-1 Watford
Thanks to Adster (Ad)
, peterborofox (Pbf)
, Donut (D)
, EnderbyFox (Ef)
, and Corky (C)
over at www.foxestalk.co.uk
for taking their time to answer some questions ahead of Wednesday night's game. There were a vast number of replies, and they have definitely been the most responsive group that i've seen in terms of providing some insights into the upcoming fixture, so fair play to them. Here's what they had to say:
1) What do you make of Leicester's start to the 2011/12 nPower Championship campaign?
It's been alright I guess, it could of been worse, it could of been better. We're doing alright at the moment.
Not good enough. With the money spent and the players we have got in the squad we should be in the PO's minimum. Problem has been scoring away from home, and having manager who has tried to accomodate too many players without really knowing his best team.
Start to the season has been pretty mediocre. Weve beaten some teams at the top of the table at home, but the team has lacked goals in general, especially away from home where our negativity at times borders on the tedious. Id have liked to have thought at this stage of the season wed at least be top 6, considering the sizeable investments made by the Thai's.
Started well against Coventry on the opening day, then after 2 home defeats in a row people started to get on Sven's back, performances have gradually increased from then though and I thought we had finally cracked in against Derby last week, evidently not based on today's performance though!
Inconsistent. Had some good home results, a couple of decent away results and some poor ones home and away.
2) It was a busy summer for you in terms of players coming into the club. With this in mind, what areas of your team do you consider to be the strongest & weakest?
I now consider our defense to be the form area at the minute, bar todays performance, we'd kept four clean sheets in a row and look defensively sound. I'd say our lack o f width would be a problem and delivery into the box from crosses. Most of them are very woeful and if we do put in a decent cross there's no one on the end of it to nod it in.
Strongest is in the middle of the park. We have about 6 central midfielders now, but we dont need all of the, which has created a problem in it self.
I will give Sven credit for making us more sure at the back. Mills (up until his red card against Brum) and Bamba were forming a solid centreback partnership ahead of Kasper who has been very good so far. Going forward we arent particularly creative and we lack a spark. And definitely width.
Before today, our back-line had been formidable for the last 5 or so games, I've never been as confidant in a keeper as i am with Kasper in goal, so i'd still say our defense is our strongest area. Our attack is hit and miss, some days we create plenty of chances (Derby) and others, our strikers don't seem in the game at all.
Defensively we look stronger (71 let in last season, 24 at this stage). Weakest I'd say on the wings.
3) Who do you see as The Fox's key man this season? (Please note, usually I would take this answer for the preview, however, due to time constraints, I have already written this part as I wasn't sure if i'd have time to visit this forum).
Honestly, i'd consider Bamba to be our key man at this moment in time, he is absolutely solid and shows all signs of a premiership centre back. He can be a bomb scare, but he always makes it out! Without him I think the team as a whole would be weaker.
Kaspar Schmeichel. You need a good kepper at this level and we have one now.
Nugent looks like the player who will get the goals, hes a real workhorse and the fans have taken to him already for his all effort performances. The Mills/Bamba partnership will be key too throughout the season.
Again, i'd say Kasper is vital to where we are today, he is our most consistent performer and is a breath of fresh air after dealing with Weale's mistakes last season.
Kaspar Schmeichel or David Nugent
4) If you had to - I don't suppose you would want to at the moment - which Watford player would you add to your squad if you could?
Honestly I haven't seen much of Watford this season so it's hard to comment. But, I'd say then Marvin Sordell, everytime I see him he's class.
Kightley, as we have no width in the team whatsoever.
I think on paper youve got a pretty competent championship squad and what youve managed to achieve with youth products is remarkable, pushing for a playoff place for a good while last term. Grahams goals would always be hard to replace, but full credit to your academy for continuing to produce quality players. Marvin Sordell would be a good impact player.
I'd want Sordel, he looks like he's going to be a cracking player! he scored 2 against us at home last year didn't he?
Not sure really.
5) What are your current expectations with regards to how the season will pan out for Leicester?
I expect us to be promoted, who doesn't. We have high expectations and need to be fulfilled, simple as that.
My expectation is that we get promoted. Realistically I see Playoffs at best.
I make no bones about expecting promotion and if promotion is not achieved i think its safe to say heads will roll.
I'd like to think we could achieve automatic promotion, but our performances so far this season have been extremely inconsistent so play-offs is a more likely option than cracking the top 2. That said, going on today's performance we will be lucky to make the top half!
I expect us to be challenging for the top 6 at least.
6) And finally, what are your score predictions for the game on Wednesday night?
Based on Watford's form at the minute I think we'll comfortably run out 2-0 winners. Keeping a clean sheet in the process.
I think we will win as we are decent at home, but mainly because Watford are poor at the moment. Maybe 2/3-1. Yeates will socre as usual no doubt.
Owing to the fact that we are at home, i think itll be a relatively comfortable 2-0 win.
2-1 home win.
We've scored four past Watford in our last three home matches we've played against you. I think we'll win, 2-0.
Leicester have invested heavily in their squad over the summer, and are rightly seen as a team that will be there or there-abouts come the end of the campaign, despite the slow-ish start to the season. Watford, despite picking up some good points on the road, seem to be lacking in the goals department, and unless this problem is solved, I think we’ll struggle to pick up points in this fixture. Despite seeing Leicester’s poor performance on Sunday afternoon, I reckon they’ll get it together for this game, and will emerge with 3-points, heaping yet more pressure on Watford. Leicester 3-1 Watford.
At The Bookies
Win @ 4/7
Win @ 4/1
(Odds courtesy of www.williamhill.com)
Or if you want to throw some of your vCash at this game to vent your anger at our current league position/past performances, visit the vBookie prior to kick-off at 7.45pm on Wednesday evening.