WATFORD TAKE on fellow top-six outfit Hull City at Vicarage Road this Saturday in what is sure to provide the ‘Orns with one of the sternest tests of their mettle to date.
Steve Bruce’s side have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign and sit fifth, a place and two points above Gianfranco Zola’s side just before the halfway point of the season.
The Tigers’ away record mirrors the Hornet’s own, winning five, drawing one and losing four times on the road, however their miserly total of 13 scored on the road is less impressive. That, coupled with Watford’s third-best-in-the-division home record of just nine conceded could make life tough for the Humberside outfit.
Former Sunderland boss Bruce has utilised the 3-5-2 system himself since the beginning of the season recruited to fit the new formation by bringing in former Sunderland colleague Ahmed Elmohamady to fit in at right wing-back.
The 51 year-old Geordie also returned to his former employers to sign Irish international David Meyler. The 23 year-old central midfielder has twice fought back cruciate ligament damage in the same knee whilst with the Wearside outfit and had remained a frequent member of the matchday squad until he joined City on-loan.
Formerly of Cork City, Meyler won his first full international cap earlier this season when he was introduced as a substitute against Oman in a friendly at Craven Cottage. He has since won two further caps for his country.
Since arriving at the Stadium of Light from Ireland, Meyler has made just 25 Premier League appearances for the Black Cats – a figure largely restricted by his continual injury problems.
Meyler made his breakthrough on Wearside during the 2009-10 season, making 12 league and cup appearances under Bruce.
The Tigers also raided the Premier League when Meyler’s fellow Irish international Robbie Brady signed on-loan for the season from Manchester United.
The versatile winger, who can also operate at left-back or in central midfield, spent last season on-loan at the KC Stadium and impressed sufficiently to feature during pre-season for the Red Devils.
Unable to earn a regular first-team slot though, the 20 year-old Dubliner linked up with the Tigers once more this term.
Brady did however make his United debut this season in the Capital One Cup 3rd Round win over Newcastle United with a four-minute cameo.
Bruce also stuck to what he knew when he signed his son, Alex, on a free transfer following his release from Leeds United.
Also a centre-half, the 28 year-old had previously turned out for his old man at Birmingham City, where he made six appearances between 2005 and 2006.
Bruce Jnr. left St. Andrews for a fresh start and Ipswich Town in 2006, making over 100 league appearances before moving to Elland Road in 2010.
The Norwich-born defender fell out of favour quickly with the Whites and left in the summer after making just 29 appearances for the Championship side.
The Tigers only injury concern is with winger Sone Aluko after Jay Simpson and Liam Rosenior were passed fit enough to feature at Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Zola could call upon Almen Abdi once again after the midfielder featured for a Development XI in the 4-1 win over Gillingham on Tuesday night.
Prince Buaben also featured but is building his fitness back up after-long term injury.
Nyron Nosworthy, John Eustace and Ikechi Anya are all working their way back, whilst Neuton is fit once more.
Predicted line-ups:Watford: Almunia (c); Ekstrand, Hall, Hoban; Cassetti, Yeates, Hogg, Chalobah, Pudil; Forestieri & Deeney.
Hull City: Stockdale; Bruce, Faye, Chester; Elmohamady, Evans, Meyler, Quinn, Brady; Koren; Maclean.
Referee:Mr M Haywood.