Burnley must get a result at Vicarage Road to stay in play-off contention, writes Jamie Smith.
Defeat at home to Millwall last weekend was a disappointment, but there’s plenty of time left to get into the top six. A run of form from now until the end of the season is essential, though.
Junior Stanislas is close to a return from his hamstring injury but the game may come too soon for him, while Chris McCann is touch and go after going off in the defeat against Millwall last weekend. Dean Marney returns after his wife gave birth, while Martin Paterson and Danny Ings are pressing for starts. Brian Jensen is back but Jon Stewart has gone out on loan to get some football. Josh McQuoid is also back in Eddie Howe’s plans after he was unable to play against Millwall under the terms of his loan agreement.
Tomasz Kuszczak will start in goal for Watford after moving to the club on loan from Manchester United, while manager Sean Dyche also has Sean Murray and Lee Hodson back available. Stephen McGinn is making his comeback from a knee problem but is not ready for action yet.
Burnley are relying heavily on Jay Rodriguez at the moment and we have only mustered three goals since the turn of the year that have not come from him. Ings and Paterson will have to contribute if we are to push into the top six, while the back four and the goalkeeper have to find some form as well if we are to make it higher up the league.
The draw between Blackpool and Hull City was good for us last night and we have to take advantage with a win at Vicarage Road today. Watford are only 17th in the Championship and will be anxiously looking over their shoulder at the bottom three, while the Clarets know any more slips will leave them out of contention with matches running out fast.
Home form has been good for the Hornets this campaign with seven wins, although the Clarets’ away record is as good as anyone in the division and we head south searching for a ninth win on the road this season. But with no draws yet, we’ve also lost eight away games.
Watford recently beat Leicester City and Barnsley back to back at Vicarage Road, but have been hammered in each of their last two matches – 4-0 at Crystal Palace followed by a 3-0 home reverse to Southampton.
After a superb run, the Clarets only won once in February and go into the game on the back of a mini-run that has seen us lose three times in the last four. It’s not too late to turn it around, but we have to get a result at Watford today if we are to have any chance of troubling the teams above us. We’re already six points adrift and can only climb one place today.
I’m backing Eddie’s boys to get a win and get us excited again ahead of the run in.
Prediction: Watford 1-3 Burnley