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Preview: Watford vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Watford and Leicester City, including team news and predicted lineups.

Watford will be looking to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they welcome third-placed Leicester City to the Vitality Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets beat Liverpool 3-0 in their last home fixture but suffered a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace last weekend and remain locked in a battle to stay in England's top flight.

Match preview

Watford's Troy Deeney applauds fans as he celebrates at the end of the match on February 29, 2020© Reuters

A record of six wins, nine draws and 14 defeats this season has brought Watford 27 points, leaving them only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference with nine games of the campaign left.

There are only four points between 19th-placed Aston Villa and 15th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion, while the former have a game in hand over the teams around them, making for a very interesting battle.

The Hornets famously became the first team to beat Liverpool in this season's Premier League when they recorded a 3-0 victory at Vicarage Road at the end of February.

Nigel Pearson's side were brought back down to earth last Saturday, though, as a 1-0 defeat at Palace meant that they remain firmly in trouble, largely due to their struggles in the first half of the season.

Watford have actually won their last three home Premier League matches against Leicester, however, and will certainly fancy their chances of causing the Foxes some problems in Saturday's early start.

Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring for Leicester on March 9, 2020© Reuters

Leicester did not win a Premier League match in the month of February, drawing with Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers before losing to Manchester City and Norwich City.

Brendan Rodgers's side returned to winning ways against Aston Villa on Monday night, though, putting four unanswered goals past Dean Smith's team to strengthen their grip on third.

The Foxes are now five points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and just four points behind second-placed Manchester City, although the reigning champions do have a game in hand.

On Thursday, during his pre-match press conference, Rodgers revealed that three first-team players had been placed in self-isolation after showing symptoms of coronavirus.

The 47-year-old insisted that those in question had been "kept away from the rest of the squad", though, and this match is still scheduled to go ahead despite concerns over the outbreak.

Watford Premier League form: LLDLWL
Watford form (all competitions): LLDLWL

Leicester Premier League form: WDDLLW
Leicester form (all competitions): DDLLWW

Team News

Leicester City's James Maddison pictured on February 27, 2020© Reuters

Watford will be without Gerard Deulofeu for the remainder of the season due to a serious knee injury, while full-back Daryl Janmaat is again expected to miss out once again.

Pearson could decide to select the same XI that started at Palace, meaning that Danny Welbeck, Andre Gray and Ignacio Pussetto are again likely to be on the bench.

Roberto Pereyra has stepped into the position recently vacated by Deulofeu and that should again be the case on Saturday afternoon.

Rodgers confirmed on Thursday that key defender Ricardo Pereira would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, meaning that James Justin could get the nod at right-back for this match.

Ben Chilwell is also expected to recover in time for the contest, but James Maddison has picked up a calf problem and will be on the sidelines for the next two weeks.

Marc Albrighton and Harvey Barnes are both expected to keep their spots in the wide areas, while Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans should return to the side having appeared off the bench against Villa.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Foster; Kiko, Kabasele, Cathcart, Masina; Capoue, Hughes; Pereyra, Doucoure, Sarr; Deeney

Leicester possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Ndidi; Albrighton, Praet, Tielemans, Barnes; Vardy

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We say: Watford 1-1 Leicester

Both teams will feel that they can hurt the opposition in the final third of the field, which should make for an interesting match at Vicarage Road. We are finding it difficult to separate the two teams, though, and are therefore backing a low-scoring draw on Saturday afternoon.

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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith on March 1, 2020
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· Team GB trio Vicky Holland, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth all have realistic medal hopes in the women's event (10.30pm-1am)

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