After the merciless crushing of Millwall last weekend, Watford head back to the Vic` to take on Gordon Strachan`s much-fancied Middlesbrough. The Teessiders have apparently crumbled under the pressure of the ‘favourites` tag and only recorded their second and third victories of the season last week, beating both Burnley and Reading at the Riverside. The Hornet`s own home form has been less than convincing having thrown away points late on against both Doncaster and Coventry as well as suffering defeats at the hands of Leeds and Notts County in the League Cup.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Skipper Gary O`Neil is the biggest name on ‘Boro`s injury list, the former Portsmouth midfielder picked up a dead leg in the victory over Burnley and will undergo a late fitness test. Full-back Justin Hoyte is out due to a hamstring problem whilst fellow defender Matt Killgallon has returned to parent-club Sunderland to sort out recurring back problems. Winger Willo Flood is recovering from reconstructive surgery on his medial patella ligament (whatever that is) and fellow midfielder Kevin Thomson is recovering from a fracture of the fibula. Finally, Aussie utility man Rhys Williams is out for the long-term whilst the extent of his hip problem is assessed.
McMahon Wheater McManus (c) Arca
Robson Tavares Bailey Kink
Leicester City 0-0 MIDDLESBROUGH
Millwall 2-1 MIDDLESBROUGH
Barnsley 2-0 MIDDLESBROUGH
QPR 3-0 MIDDLESBROUGH
Key Player: Barry Robson
Thirty-one year old midfielder joined ‘Boro on a free transfer last January from Gordon Strachan`s previous club Celtic, where the former Coventry and Southampton gaffer had brought the flame-haired playmaker to Parkhead from Dundee United for a seven-figure fee. In just over a year with the Bhoys Robson grabbed four goals in 31 league starts. Since arriving in Teesside in January Robson has benefitted from regular football scoring six in twenty-five league starts. Born in Aberdeen, Robson has six full Scottish caps and has scored one goal for his county.
Watford Team News:
In the battle of the Scottish gaffers, Watford`s Malky Mackay finds himself with a fuller squad to choose from for Saturday`s game. With Lloyd Doyley returning on Saturday for the trouncing of Millwall, it seems likely that Lee Hodson will force his way back into the starting eleven in time for Saturday to replace Andrew Taylor, ineligible to play as he is on-loan from ‘Boro.
Hodson Mariappa M.Taylor Doyley
WATFORD 2-2 Coventry City
WATFORD 1-2 Notts County
WATFORD 0-1 Leeds United
WATFORD 2-2 Doncaster Rovers
Key Player: Marvin Sordell
Marvellous` Marvin has well and truly burst onto the first-team scene in the last few weeks with a flurry of goals. Having opened his seasonal account back in August against Aldershot in the Carling Cup, Sordell grabbed his third career league goal at home to Doncaster before snatching a second in the same game. Further strikes came at Bristol City and Millwall as the livewire forward continues to keep Summer-signing Troy Deeney out the starting eleven.
09/10 Watford 1-1 ‘Boro
‘Boro 0-1 Watford
06/07 ‘Boro 4-1 Watford
Watford 2-0 ‘Boro
Prediction: Score Draw
We`ve not been too clever at home, ‘Boro have been far from clever away from home; surely something will give, that said the strength and depth of the visitors means they will be no pushovers.