Match Preview – Watford

In football as in life it’s rare that all the facts point in one direction, but this match presents a near rock-solid case for Leicester fans. Consider the following.

Watford are currently on the Championship’s longest active winless streak (7 games) picking up just three points from 21 in the process. It is a run that has seen the Hornets drop from 3rd in the table to 15th.

The ‘Golden Boys’ home form is pretty unspectacular. Of nine visitors to Vicarage Road this season only an out of sorts Ipswich Town and a similarly poor Middlesbrough have failed to take points. Watford have won just 10 points from a possible 27 in front of their own supporters. They are the only Championship side yet to keep a clean sheet at home.

They face a Leicester side making up for lost time. In the last 10 matches the Foxes have won more points (20) than any other Championship side. And these results haven’t been the consequence of a lenient fixture list. Four of City’s six wins in this run have come against sides in the top half.

History bodes well for Leicester too. The Foxes have suffered only one defeat in their last 10 visits to Vicarage Road. Indeed, Watford have won just two of the last 18 meetings between the sides.

The first goal will be crucial. Watford have yet to lose when they have scored first, but are yet to win after falling behind. Leicester will need to impose themselves in the first half in order to ensure the Hornets don’t put the game out of reach, but Watford’s record in the second half (the 18th best in the division) makes it likely that Leicester could put the game to bed there. The Foxes have trailed at half time in just one of their last 10 matches and Watford have yet to win a game in which they haven’t gained a half-time lead.

Perhaps a late goal will settle this game. Four shipped in the last five minutes have been partly responsible for Watford dropping more points from winning positions (15) than every Championship side except Preston (16).

But there is one worry for Leicester. When Watford get their shooting boots on, they really can cause teams problems. In 11 matches this season the Hornets have scored two or more, only QPR (12 matches) can better that. This has led to Watford securing the division’s second best chance conversion rate (15.6% of attempts result in a goal). Leicester, though much improved, are still only finding the net with 9.3% of their attempts on goal.

Finally, this match pits the Championship’s two nicest teams against one another. Leicester (175 fouls) and Watford (172) are responsible for the fewest indiscretions in the league. Overseeing proceedings will be Kevin Wright, who has dispensed just one red card all season. If you’re the sort of person who bets on the number of cards, keep it low.

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