Southampton vs Watford
Venue: St. Mary’s
Referee: Simon Hooper
Watford make the journey south to Southampton this weekend with both sides looking to bounce back after defeats last time out.
Southampton are a club in major turmoil and Mark Hughes’ men are without a win since the 1st of September. The Saints have also failed to score a goal from open play in six consecutive matches, a record which will need to be halted if the Saints want to retain their status in the Premier League this season.
Opportunities to pick up points have been plentiful for the Saints though and their chances in front of goal have not been short to come by. With all of their summer signings sitting on the bench in their 6-1 drubbing against Manchester City, it is evident that Hughes plan of action may not be falling in to place; with rumours floating around questioning the future of the Welshman at the club. A win at home on Saturday is essential for Hughes to regain the support and confidence of the fans and Watford is the perfect chance for his side to do this. In their last 21 meetings with the Hornets, Southampton have won 14, drawing once and only losing five times. Having said this, Southampton’s current form is not too pleasing on the eye so anything is possible.
Nathan Redmond will surely be in the starting line-up for the Saints this weekend as he has managed to net five goals in four previous appearances against Watford, and goals are what is needed in this Southampton side of recent. Mark Hughes may struggle with choosing the correct midfield this weekend with fans claiming Lemina is not pulling his weight in the side and looks lazy. Whereas fan-favourite Oriol Romeu has not been given much of a chance this year and could feature from the offset; as for James Ward-Prowse, the youngster put in a good performance against Manchester City and is in with a shout this weekend.
Although City absolutely battered Southampton, JWP’s performance was one of the few positives from that game for the side. Even on the wing, Hughes has the choice between Shane Long and Mohammad El Younoussi, who have both been equally as ineffective as each other in the season so far. The defence will also be questioned for Hughes as Hoedt has been receiving a lot of flack from fans on the back of his mistake ridden performances. Another fan-favourite, Maya Yoshida, will be looking to poke his nose back into the starting XI for the Saints again.
One thing that the Saints can hold dear to their currently abysmal season is that they have not attained any serious injuries within the club and remain in full strength. With saying that, their full strength doesn’t seem like something to fear at this current point in time.
Thursday morning’s departure of Vice Director of football, Les Reed, may also play a huge part in this home fixture. Many fans saw Les Reed as a deadweight to the club, constantly selling players with no real ambition to reimburse and strengthen the club up. This was not an issue for the club until Mauricio Potchettino left for Spurs, taking the whole scouting team with him, while Les Reed continued selling; with quality not being scouted back into the side. His departure may give Saints the boost they need to get up and running.
However, Watford are not going to be a pushover for the Saints. Sitting in a very comfortable eighth position on 19 points, they will look to improve their position and push for European football next year. Despite this, Javi Gracia’s men have lost their two previous fixtures in the Premier League, one of those being a 4-0 drubbing to Bournemouth, a side who Southampton drew with only a matter of weeks ago.
Watford will still be without Cleverley, Janmaat and Prodl for their tie against Southampton this weekend due to sustained injuries. Capoue will also miss this fixture due to his suspension. This being said, Watford are not a side who look like they are missing players; Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure have the ability to cause Southampton a lot of problems, with Pereyra netting five times this season and Doucoure assisting four.
Alongside the ability to finish these two individuals should really test this shaky Southampton defence. After shipping six goals against Manchester City last weekend their confidence will be low which provides the perfect opportunity for Gerard Deulofeu to get his season up and running. After bouncing from Everton to Barcelona, the Spaniard never really found his groove, and since moving back to the Premier League for Watford he has only managed to net once. While this stat doesn’t seem encouraging, he has been pivotal in Watford’s build-up play, providing excellent speed, vision and composure to set off Watford’s attack.
Ariel battle may be an issue for Watford this weekend as Troy Deeney is not looking set to play and they will be missing Capoue, who has also been solid at the back for Watford. Mark Hughes may take advantage of this and play Vestergaard at the back, a player who towers above anyone else, and Charlie Austin up top – a player whose strength and tenacity can challenge anyone.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy; Cedric, Stephens, Vestergaard, Bertrand; El Younoussi, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Redmond; Austin, Ings
Watford (4-4-1-1): Foster; Femenia, Mariappa, Cathcart, Holebas; Hughes, Doucoure, Chaloba, Pereyra; Success; Deulofeu
Score Prediction: Southampton 2 Watford 1
With both teams looking to escape from their form of previous games, I can see it being a close and intense match with both sides aiming to have a go at each other. However, I believe that Southampton will have to advantage due to overarching circumstances in the club and the spur of confidence that it should bring to this Southampton side.