After a rousing 1-0 npower Championship Semi-Final First Leg victory over Watford at King Power Stadium on Thursday, 90 minutes are all that stand between Nigel Pearson’s Foxes and a spot at Wembley.
But if they are to book a place in the final on 27 May, they must make their advantage count against Gianfranco Zola’s dangerous Watford side at Vicarage Road on Sunday.
Top scorer David Nugent picked the perfect moment to end his goal drought in front of 30,000 fans on Thursday, as his 81st minute header made it advantage Leicester in a game that saw both sides create opportunities to score.
Defender Paul Konchesky returned to the squad after a small hernia operation ruled him out of the 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest on the final day, and the manager is thought to have an otherwise fully fit squad to choose from for the tie.
Gianfranco Zola's Watford will rightly feel that the game is still in the balance despite City’s one-goal advantage going into the Vicarage Road clash – the third meeting between the two teams since 26 April.
The Italian will be boosted by the return of key man Troy Deeney to bolster his attacking options, after the 19-goal hitman served a one-game suspension for a red card picked up in the last day defeat to Leeds United.
Deeney was on the score sheet for The Hornets in their 2-1 King Power Stadium win over City back in April, and could lead the attack alongside either Championship Player of the Season Matej Vydra, Swiss forward Alexandre Geijo or Argentine Fernando Forestieri in a 3-5-2 formation.
Goalkeepers Manuel Almunia and Jonathan Bond both returned from injuries to feature in the squad on Thursday, but the other fitness concerns for Zola lie with Nyron Nosworthy (Achilles), Tommie Hoban (ankle) and Neuton (shoulder).
Leicester City Manager Nigel Pearson told media after his side’s 1-0 win at King Power Stadium on Thursday: “I think the game was what you would expect – tight.
“We started the game very well, and there’s always going to be that element that when you don’t turn your advantage in terms of possession and so on into goals, that people can get frustrated.
“But I think we dealt with the occasion very well and it’s nice to go into the second game with a narrow advantage.
“In terms of how we go about the next game now, we’ll try and win that one. Even before we started [the first leg], our approach was always going to be to try and win both games, because I think we are a better team when we are on the front foot playing positive football.”
Hornets boss Gianfranco Zola bemoaned his team’s inability to convert their chances after the first leg, telling Hornets Player: “We created a lot of chances and I didn’t see them scoring that goal. Against teams like Leicester you always have to be aware as they can score a chance from nothing like they did.
“We still have 90 minutes at our ground, and we’re going to try and make the most of it.
“It is disappointing because we didn’t expect to lose seeing how the game was being played.
“No complaints any more though because we have to pick ourselves up straight away and go into the preparation for Sunday, because there is still a chance to come back from this result.”
Head to Head Record (all comps)
Watford wins: 16
City wins: 23
Last Three Meetings
City 1 Watford 0
Thursday 9 May, 2013
Goal: Nugent 81
City 1 Watford 2
Fri 26 April, 2013
Goals: Kane 61; Deeney 41, Chalobah 43
Watford 2 City 1
Sat 3 Nov, 2012
Goals: Abdi 14, Foresteri 68; Nugent 71
A midfielder blessed with considerable skill, Swiss international Almen Abdi’s displays for Watford this campaign have seen him crowned the club’s Player of the Season.
Beating off stiff competition from Matej Vydra and Troy Deeney, the 26-year-old has been on the score sheet an impressive 12 times from midfield, and all despite a shoulder injury in November keeping him out of action for a month.
On-loan from Italian side Udinese, Abdi opened the scoring for Watford in City’s last visit to Vicarage Road in November – a 2-1 win for the Hornets, and Pearson’s Foxes will need to be aware of his qualities again on Sunday.
When on-form, the influential Abdi’s vision and passing ability have helped both Vydra and Deeney grab almost 40 Championship goals between them this term, which has been a highly successful one for the former Le Mans and FC Zurich man.
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