Premier League high flyers Watford now have a chance to secure their place in the final stages of the FA Cup, with the Hornets again pitted against a Championship side. Leeds United have failed to impress in the league campaign, but they hope the good FA Cup run will provide a much needed boost ahead of the new season.
This season has proved a major success for Watford Football Club, who were predicted a difficult relegation tussle only to find themselves in the top half of the standings after two thirds of the Premier League campaign. The Hornets enjoyed a bright start and never looked back, with the attacking partnership of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney thriving in England’s elite competition. And while the Premiership survival is already secured, Watford are now shifting their focus towards the FA Cup, a competition they came close to winning in 1984, losing to Everton in the final at Wembley. Manager Quique Sanchez Flores wants his side to emulate one of the most successful teams in the club’s history, and with struggling Leeds United next, the Hornets look a good bet to make it to the last eight. The Vicarage Road outfit enjoyed 1-0 wins over Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest in rounds three and four, and they seem they can record another victory without conceding.
Jose Manuel Jurado (calf) and Miguel Britos (dead leg) are both rated doubtful, but Quique Sanchez Flores hopes to have them both available for selection.
Meanwhile, Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban remain sidelined through hamstring and groin injuries respectively, and they have yet to play this season.
One of England’s most famous clubs have been on a major downtrend of late and this season is proving quite difficult as well. The Whites have utterly failed to mount a serious promotion challenge as they now sit 14 points behind the play-off positions, so the only comfort is that they will not have to worry about survival, boasting an 11-point cushion between themselves and the bottom three. With that in mind, we can safely say that the FA Cup campaign has been the sole reason for joy this term, as Leeds United defeated the likes of Rotheram United and Bolton Wanderers to reach round five. But, having failed to score a single goal in two game since beating the Trotters at Reebok Stadium, the Whites clearly face an uphill task against in-form Watford, who seem very motivated to reach the final stages of the competition. And considering that Leeds lost last three meetings against the Hornets, conceding 10 goals in the process, the trend looks likely to continue.
Leeds United manager Steve Evans has suggested that star striker Chris Wood is a major doubt for the Watford clash as he battles a hamstring problem.
Full-back Gaetano Berardi also faces a fitness test, while the boss has hinted he will make a number of changes to the side that shared spoils with Middlesbrough.
Key Factors to Consider
- Watford won last three meetings between the two sides
- Over 2.5 goals were scored in each of last six games between Watford and Leeds
- The Hornets kept eight clean sheets in fourteen home games this term
- Leeds scored in five of last six away fixtures
- Watford reached the FA Cup final in 1984
Watford are showing no signs of slowing down and with Quique Sanchez Flores expected to field a strong side in Saturday’s clash, we are backing the Hornets to make it to the quarter-finals. Leeds United have been largely disappointing this term and considering that their top scorer Chris Wood is far from the desired level of fitness, we believe they will record fourth straight loss in meetings with Watford.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 13/20
Bookmaker: William Hill