- Watford are the visitors to King Power Stadium in Sky Bet Championship on Saturday
- Valérien Ismaël’s side have been in good form of late and lie 13th in the standings
- Watford Observer reporter Andrew French has summarised the season so far for the Hornets
- Fans in the UK with a valid Game Pass can listen to live coverage of the game on Foxes Hub
Having beaten Queens Park Rangers 4-0 on the opening day, a run of five games without a win in all competitions was not the start manager Valérien Ismaël had wanted. Since then, a corner has been turned, with recent results more reflective of the quality at his disposal in the Hornets’ squad.
“The first day of the season was a bit of a false dawn,” the reporter explained. “We caught QPR on a very bad day. Not to say their results haven’t been poor since but they were particularly bad that day. We were 4-0 up at half-time and it was a great first day, but you had to put it in some context.
Valérien Ismaël previously managed both Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion in the second tier.
“More than 20 players had left the club in the summer; we lost the likes of João Pedro and Ismaïla Sarr. Although it was great to win that first game, it probably built up some expectation that was a little unfair.
“We’ve been inconsistent since, either looking capable of scoring goals but not being able to stop them or keeping clean sheets but not being able to score. Then a run of three straight defeats culminated in a defeat at Sunderland which led to the manager keeping the players locked in for an hour.
“It wasn’t a teacup throwing moment, it was more of a ‘let’s get it all out on table – what’s gone wrong, what can we do about it’ and every player and staff member had a chance to talk. Now on a run of six without defeat, that was needed and has certainly made a difference.
“Five of those six played are 18th or lower in the league so we come into it on a good run but it’s against teams that are in the bottom third of the table. Five of the next six are against teams who are eighth or higher, so if we have made the step up, it will be easier for fans and the club alike to judge where we’re really at after the next run of games.”
They’ll go there with confidence because we haven’t lost recently, but I also think it’ll be optimism with caution because we’re playing what I think is the outstanding team in the Championship.Andrew French Watford Observer
The Hertfordshire club head to King Power Stadium in fine form and have climbed to the brink of the top half of the Sky Bet Championship table prior to Saturday’s 3pm GMT kick-off. They will, however, be wary of how they have fared in recent trips to sides positioned in the top six.
French continued: “They’ll go there with confidence because we haven’t lost recently, but I also think it’ll be optimism with caution because we’re playing what I think is the outstanding team in the Championship, notwithstanding the fact that they’ve had a couple of defeats.
“The squad and the players at Leicester are exceptional so they’ll know it won’t be easy because we found out at places like Sunderland and Leeds that if you’re not on your game, you’ll get taken apart.”
Mileta Rajović got the ball rolling with the first goal in a 5-0 rout of Rotherham United last time out.
The wide areas have been a consistently strong area of the pitch for Watford in recent years, with that trend continuing this term. One of those wingers, Matheus Martins, is joint second in the club’s top goalscoring charts so far in 2023/24 with four strikes to his name.
The journalist added: “We’ve got a very good record of finding players from South America – Richarlison has gone on to great things, João Pedro went to Brighton and made his debut for Brazil and we’ve got another couple in the club who are young – Yáser Asprilla is 19 and signed from Columbian football.
“He’s very quick, has shown he has that flair, lots of skill, is strong, attacking, likes to go forward, but probably hasn’t had as much game time as he would have liked. The club have treated him as a youngster because he’s moved away from home and was very small and slight when he came but he’s been more involved this season.
“On the other flank, Matheus Martins is a Brazilian Under-20s international. A Udinese player, he is on loan with us this season. He’s benefitted from not being rushed and is a real threat. He plays on the left but is predominately right-footed so comes inside, loves to cut in and have a shot. Having that on either flank is a threat going forward. At least one of those will start.”
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