After a three month hiatus, the Premier League is back, as relegation-threatened Watford host Champions League-bound Leicester City in a match originally scheduled for March.
New rules following the temporary halt of English football means Nigel Pearson will lead his Watford side out into an empty Vicarage Road. With all Premier League games scheduled to be played behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected both teams over the last three months, with Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, two Hornet’s staff members, and Leicester manager Brendan Rogers contracting the virus.
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Last game: Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford (07/03/20)
With just one league win in their last seven outings, Watford are desperate to pick up some vital points. Currently, they sit above Bournemouth on goal difference in 17th.
A lack of goal scoring prowess as seen the Hornets fail to score on 13 separate occasions so far this campaign. Resulting in the 3rd lowest attacking record in the league.
Following wins against Manchester United, Wolves and Aston Villa during Pearson’s first few weeks as manager, the ‘new manager bounce’ seems to have worn off.
Although the Yellows did receive a glimpse of hope when they denied Liverpool an unbeatable-season back in February, their lack of consistency and firepower may be their undoing.
Join-top goalscorer (6), Troy Deeney, has returned to training after publicly announcing he wouldn’t due to fears for his family’s health.
Star winger, Gerard Deulofeu, isn’t expected to return this season after rupturing his cruciate ligament.
Right-back, Daryl Janmaat, will also miss Watford’s return through injury.
Last game: Leicester 4-0 Aston Villa (09/03/20)
Leicester’s scintillating form at the start of the season saw them climb up the table and hold on to third position, just four points off current-champions Manchester City.
But, with just 2 wins from their last 8 league games, Leicester will be desperate to cling onto a Champions League spot.
Rodgers’ men will take comfort, however, in the fact that they have prevailed on three occasions in their last four meetings against Saturday’s opponents.
The Fox’s defensive and attacking records are also a reflection of their impressive season, boasting the 3rd best defence and attack behind Liverpool and Man City.
Top-scorer (19), Jamie Vardy, is in search of one more goal to become the league’s 29th centurion.
Ricardo Pereira is expected to miss the weekend’s match, with the Portuguese full-back continuing his recovery after knee surgery in March.
In a recent update, Rodgers gave an insight into his team’s current condition:
“There's a couple [of players] we are keeping an eye on. Ryan Bennett has had a sore ankle after one of the games last week, and Ayo Perez has been out for a few days, but he should return to training now.
"Apart from that, everyone else is in really good condition and we are really looking forward to playing at the weekend.