Southampton will be looking to take advantage of the recent managerial change at Watford as they hope to progress in the FA Cup.
Southampton have had a subdued season so far. The Saints are winless in their last 11 Premier League games and were able to only eke out a 1-0 win over Fulham in the previous round of the FA Cup, thanks to a goal from James Ward-Prowse.
Watford on the other hand, had a brilliant start to their season – a start that has later been neutralised by a horrendous run of games since. The run has seen Marco Silva lose his job, with Javi Gracia embracing the challenge at Vicarage Road.
The Hornets disposed off Bristol City in a quick manner, with the likes of Andre Carrillo, Troy Deeney and Etienne Capoue all getting on the scoresheet.
The home advantage could work in Southampton’s favour, with Watford on a run of five consecutive losses on road. Ahead of their meeting in FA Cup on Saturday, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
New signing Guido Carrillo will not be available for the tie along with fellow striker Charlie Austin, who is expected to return from his hamstring injury at the turn of the month. There are no other injury issues for Mauricio Pellegrino to deal with and with ample time between the FA Cup tie and their next Premier League match – Brighton on January 31 – we should see a full-strength eleven take the field.
Alex McCarthy should continue being picked over Fraser Forster as the man to guard the goal while the defence in front of him is likely to be the same one that took the field against Tottenham in their last fixture.
With Pellegrino likely to retain his 4-2-3-1 formation, we should see Romeu and Lemina play the pivot while James Ward-Prowse should be handed a start, after his goal was the difference in the Third Round of the FA Cup. The manager is spoilt for choice to fill the 3 options behind the striker.
And we could see Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal return to the lineup. As far as the lone forward position is concerned, the absence of Austin and Carrillo makes Manolo Gabbiadini an automatic choice.
The Saints still base their play on the same possession-style football. But, the likes of Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal could see Pellegrino deploy a more counter-attacking football in order to take advantage of any lapses in Watford’s defence.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Soares, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand; Lemina, Romeu; Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Redmond; Gabbiadini
Javi Gracia’s first match in charge is set to be a tricky one. There is a bit of unrest in the dressing room, led by Richarlison, who made his displeasure at Marco Silva’s sacking public through his twitter handle. It will be interesting to see whether the Brazilian starts or if he is benched for the tie.
The manager also has some pressing concerns as far as the availability of key personnel is concerned. As many as four defenders – Miguel Britos, Craig Cathcart, Kiko Femenia and Tommie Hoban – are all out for the match, as is midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah.
We will have to wait and see how Javi Gracia sets his team up. But, the manager does prefer two upfront, compared to Marco Silva, who used to field a lone man up top.
Regardless, Troy Deeney should start in attack, with Andre Gray likely to be the other forward, if Gracia does opt for a front two.
Gracia could bring back the 4-4-2, which has become more of a throwback to the old era of Premier League, especially with the new wave of players and managers, who seem to be prefer the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 more.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Gomes; Janmaat, Kabasele, Wague, Holebas; Carrillo, Doucoure, Capoue, Richarlison; Gray, Deeney
1. Horrendous at Home meets Awful Away – Watford have an awful recent record away from home, with a streak of 5 games without a win – only 2 wins in the last 10. Southampton have not exactly been dominant at home, with the Saints currently without a win in their last 5 home games.
2. One of the main reasons for Watford’s woeful away record is their pedestrian goal tally away from home, with the club managing just 2 goals in their last 5 away outings.
3. On the other hand, Southampton have scored in each of their last six home games in all competitions.
4. Both the teams have a variety of goalscorers. But, Watford have had too many sources of goals (14) compared to Southampton, who have nine different players on the scoresheet so far this season.
Player to Watch
With a new striker signed, Gabbiadini’s place is under threat. The forward has, so far, failed to justify or warrant a greater chunk of playing time this season. But, a good performance against Watford could change all that, at least for the short-term.
Watford could be a bit shaky at the back, with players beginning to adjust to a new system or new tactics under the new manager. And Gabbiadini will be entrusted with the responsibility of making the visitors pay for any mistakes.
Southampton 1-0 Watford
The managerial change has caused a bit of unrest in the Watford dressing room, with several players reportedly disappointed with the untimely departure of Marco Silva. And the same could have an affect on Saturday, especially with Southampton looking at FA Cup as an opportunity to gain a spot in Europe.
Their new man Guido Carrillo is unlikely to take part in the tie. But, his arrival alone could rejuvenate the squad and we should see the Saints eke out a narrow win.