Watford host Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year's Day as the Hornets look to maintain their revitalised form following the appointment of Nigel Pearson.
The home side come into the match after a run of excellent results as their third manager of the season sits in the dugout, yet Watford still find themselves 19th in the table, only three points off the bottom.
Conversely, seventh-placed Wolves arrive at Vicarage Road less than 72 hours after a bitterly disappointing, VAR-ridden, defeat to league leaders Liverpool. Nuno Espírito Santo's side will be looking to put their controversial loss behind them as they attempt to come out the other side of their manic Christmas schedule in one piece.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 1 January|
|What Time is Kick Off?||15:00 (GMT)|
|Where Is It Played?||Vicarage Road|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport ESPN|
Watford currently have one of the longest injury lists in the Premier League but could be ready to welcome back two players in the form of Will Hughes and Craig Cathcart, who will be subject to a late fitness test, after both were substituted in the Hornets' last game against Aston Villa.
The match against Wolves has come too soon for Daryl Janmaat and José Holebas who could find their way onto the teamsheet later in January. But Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Sebastian Prödl are not expected to return until February at the earliest.
Adrian Mariappa will be unavailable as he serves a one-match ban following his two yellow cards in the space of six minutes during match against Villa.
Despite the 'absurd' schedule Wolves have been dealt over the Christmas period, they have not picked up any new injuries. The long-term absentees, Willy Boly and Morgan Gibbs-White, are yet to return.
But Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré will be fresh as they were rested against Liverpool, only coming on for the final 30 minutes of the match as Wolves chased an equaliser. A tired Adama Traoré is frightening sight for any defender, let alone a well-rested one.
|Watford||Foster; Femenía, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Capoue, Chalobah; Sarr, Doucouré, Deulofeu; Deeney|
|Wolves||Patrício; Dendoncker, Coady, Saïss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traoré, Jiménez, Jota|
Watford have been rejuvenated under Nigel Pearson, beating Manchester United and Aston Villa, but their recent record against Wolves is less impressive.
Wednesday’s visitors have won the sides’ past two Premier League meetings, triumphing on three of their past four league trips to Watford. But as 2020 begins, there are some worrying trends for both sides.
Watford last won their first league match of a decade in the 1960s. Wolves have not won their first league game of a calendar year while in the top flight since 1981.Troy Deeney should represent a threat to Wolves, having scored three of Watford’s six goals under Pearson.
Despite the fact that the first fixture between Watford and Wolves took place more than 100 years ago, Wednesday's encounter will only be the 49th meeting of the two. The record is evenly split with each side winning 15, drawing 18 and losing 15.
Last season saw the sides face off twice in the space of 20 days as Watford prevailed in the FA Cup semi-final before Wolves gained what little revenge a 2-1 away league win provided. Nuno Espírito Santo's side comfortably swatted the Hornets aside in September this season as Wolves' 2-0 home win kept a winless Watford rooted to the bottom of the table.
Their last meeting may have seen Wolves prevail but since then Watford have sacked their manager, instated and swiftly removed an interim coach before appointing their third permanent boss of season. And given the recent form of the Hornets under Pearson, it won't be as plain-sailing for Santo's Wolves.
Following the aforementioned Pearson's appointment, only Watford's daunting away trip to Liverpool has seen the Hornets leave without any points.
Seven points from their last three games has only been enough to see the Hertfordshire-based outfit rise to second-bottom in the table, meaning they haven't seen the safety of 17th since the opening weekend.
Wolves' defeat to Liverpool was only their second league loss since September and given the form of the European champions, losing 1-0 at Anfield is almost tantamount to victory. As they look to bounce back and find their way into the top six again, a match against a side in the relegation zone is a must-win for a team with the ambitions of Wolves.
|Watford 3-0 Aston Villa (28/12)||Liverpool 1-0 Wolves (29/12)|
|Sheffield United 1-1 Watford (26/12)||Wolves 3-2 Manchester City (27/12)|
|Watford 2-0 Manchester United (22/12)||Norwich 1-2 Wolves (21/12)|
|Liverpool 2-0 Watford (14/12)||Wolves 1-2 Tottenham (15/12)|
|Watford 0-0 Crystal Palace (7/12)||Wolves 4-0 Besiktas (12/12)|
Although Wolves come into this match with almost double the points tally of Watford, and 11 places higher in the table, it seems that the introduction of Pearson has had a remarkable impact on the squad.
Whilst the term 'New Manager Bounce' implies that the side's form will eventually return to the norm, there is no overwhelming reason that day will come in the match against Wolves. The main issue for Watford is scoring goals - 40% of their total league tally has come in the past three matches - and Wolves have the 7th best defensive record in the division this season.
If Pearson can guide his team to a draw or even sneak a victory against a side with aspirations of the top six, fans at Vicarage Road will go home happy.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Wolves
Source : 90min