Watford faceoff against Southampton in the latter’s stadium St.Mary’s as both the teams are in a tentative position having changed managers over the summer. Watford have replaced Quique Sanchez Flores with the Italian Walter Mazzarri while Southampton have also brought in Claude Puel after Ronald Koeman left at the call of Farhad Moshiri to Everton. Mazzarri has previously tasted considerable success at Reggina and Napoli with the 3-5-2 formation which was considered innovative at that point but he stumbled in his homeland while in charge of Inter.
Watford have endured a mixed run in the pre-season having won just 2 out of the six fixtures with an embarrassing defeat to Championship club QPR in their final match. They drew the remaining 4 matches.
Watford have been handed a difficult start to the season and the Italian has acknowledged that but he prefers to look at the positives and feed off the pressure. He is focusing on the future and will not be burdened by the achievements of Watford last season.
“I know we have a very difficult start, but it also means that I am very curious to see how my players will be able to cope and fight against these teams. I have always been a very positive person so we’ll see how it goes on the pitch and then we will accept whatever comes out of it.”
“I don’t feel the pressure, actually the pressure motivates me. The pressure makes me work even harder.
“I agree that last year Watford did very well, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but I don’t like to look at what happened before. I am here to work now and I feel very comfortable and very motivated to do a good job.”
TEAM NEWS AND PREDICTED LINE-UP
Watford understandably spent pre-season trying out the 3-5-2 formation and will look to start off in a similar set-up. Abdi, Berghuis Dja Djédjé, Oularé are out of the clash while there are slight question marks over the participation of Behrami, Cathcart, Guédioura and Success.
Heurelho Gomes will start in goal with an expected back 3 of Miguel Britos, Sebastian Prodl and new signing Christian Kabasele. Cathcart also provides an option if passed fit. Ikechi Anya and Jose Holebas will look to keep their places in the wing-back positions ahead of Allan Nyom and Juan Zuniga.
Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson are most likely to fill up two of the three midfield slots while the remaining slot will be contested by one of Adlene Guedioura or Valon Behrami. But since both are carrying minor niggles, Mario Suarez might come into the picture. While Mazzarri lacks an out and out playmaker behind the strikers as in the case of Hamsik at Napoli, that role will be assigned to Capoue as of now.
Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo will look to carry on their deadly bromance and hope to continue from where they left off last season. Jerome Sinclair will provide back-up.