An inconsistent start to the season saw Watford positioned in mid-table with a play-off place not looking beyond the realms of possibility however after a poor December ‘The Hornets’ form took a turn for the worse. This abject run of form has continued into 2010 and since the turn of the year Watford have only won two league games, now ‘The Golden Boys’, who are currently 19th in the Championship, have been dragged into a relegation battle. Malky Mackay took over as Watford boss at the start of the season after a period as caretaker manager. Mackay had played for the club between the years of 2005-2008, appearing 52 times for ‘The Hornets’. Mackay had no money to spend in his first transfer window as manager, the clubs financial problems have been well documented and there were rumours of Watford going into administration this season, he did, however, manage to bring in Tom Cleverly and Henri Lansbury on loan from Manchester United and Arsenal, respectively, as well as adding Danny Graham and Scott Severin on free transfers to add to the playing staff at Vicarage Road. As a consequence of the financial struggles Watford had to part with many of their first team regulars though, a total of 12 players, including Jobi McAnuff and Tommy Smith, all left as the club needed to reduce the wage budget. As a result of the changes that Watford’s season has been perhaps a predictable one and the club now face a fight for their Championship status between now and May.
Watford were formed in 1881 under the name of Watford Rovers, they changed their name to, simply, Watford in 1898. ‘The Hornets’ moved to Vicarage Road in 1914, where they have stayed ever since meaning the current stadium is somewhat dated, it is also shared with rugby club Saracens. They were founder members of Division 3, in the Southern Section, but were moved to Division 4 after the war, when the English League system became how it is today. In 1970 Watford reached the F.A Cup semi-finals despite playing Division 2 football, they had been promoted from Division 4 in 1960 and Division 3 in 1969. ‘The Hornets’ success was short lived however as the club slumped to two relegations in three seasons and fell back into Division 4. Pop-star Elton John took over as club chairman in 1976, declaring he wanted Watford to be in Division 1, or the Premiership as it is now called. 7 years later Elton John’s dream had turned into reality as the club achieved 3 promotions and were now playing their football in the top tier of English football. In their first season in Division 1 Watford finished second and reached the F.A Cup final, which they lost to Everton. After suffering relegation from Division 1 in 1995-1996 season, Watford achieved promotion to the top flight 10 years later under Aidy Boothroyd guidance. However ‘The Golden Boys’ were relegated back down to Division 2 the season following their promotion, where they have stayed ever since.
The Form Book:
Peterborough United are still searching for an away win, with the worst away form in the Championship, ‘The Posh’ go into the game at Vicarage Road as underdogs. Peterborough haven’t even lead in an away match since back in September 2009 where George Boyd put Posh in-front against Leicester, Peterborough went on to draw the match 1-1. However after 3 wins in 4 games at home under Jim Gannon confidence is gradually being restored and ‘The Posh’ will regard this as a winnable away fixture.
Watford have won just two of their last 13 Championship fixtures and have lost their last two home games. They would sit 16th in the table if just their games at Vicarage Road were taken into account. ‘The Hornets’ have lost 5 home games proving they are not unbeatable on home soil.
Last Time Out:
Peterborough United came out on top in a 2-1 win; it was Mark Cooper’s first and only win whilst in charge of ‘The Posh’. Lee Frecklington gave Peterborough United the lead after some good build up play but John Eustace scored after a free-kick wasn’t defended properly by Peterborough to level things up. Exodus Geoghagon headed home his first Peterborough United goal to give the hosts all three points and take Posh off the bottom of the league for Christmas.
Watford: Henri Lansbury – After joining on loan from Arsenal in the summer Lansbury has played 24 times for Watford scoring 3 goals in the process. Lansbury is a product of Arsenal’s youth academy but has mainly appeared for the reserves and the youth team for ‘The Gunners’. His only appearance, to date, for the first team, came in a League Cup match against Sheffield United. He made an immediate impact for Scunthorpe, after being loaned out to ‘The Iron’ at the beginning of the 2008-2009 season by Arsenal, scoring on his full-debut against Swindon Town. He went on to appear 16 times and scored 4 goals that season. Equally adept at playing on the right hand side of midfield or in the centre Lansbury is versatile, he also is very good whilst in possession, with passing and dribbling being two of his strongest attributes. Lansbury will be a real threat to the Posh defence if allowed too much space.
Peterborough United: Gabriel Zakuani – Zakuani has had a frustrating season as he has suffered with a troublesome groin injury which has limited his first team opportunities. The Congolese centre back has recently returned to fitness and back into the heart of ‘The Posh’ defence and immediately struck up a good partnership with regular partner Craig Morgan, who has been immense recently. Zakuani is likely to be tested on a regular basis against Watford and will have to be at the top of his game to counter ‘The Hornets’ attacking threat.
Watford: Will Buckley is fit to start for the hosts after suffering from a thigh injury which meant his debut after signing from Rochdale has been delayed. Tom Cleverly returns from suspension.
Peterborough: Lee Frecklington, Chris Whelpdale and Ryan Bennett are all sidelined for the visitors. Reuben Reid and Josh Simpson both are set to return from injury however.
Match Odds (William Hill):
Watford – 8/11 Draw – 12/5 Peterborough – 3/1
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