MX23RW : Sunday, August 1 18:32:55| >> :120:70550:70550:
Apr 30, 2016 at 3pm UK at Vicarage Road
Attendance: 20,653
Watford
3-2
Aston Villa
Abdi (45'), Deeney (90', 93')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Clark (28'), Ayew (48')

Preview: Watford vs. Aston Villa

Sports Mole provides the lowdown on Saturday's Premier League match between Watford and Aston Villa.

Aston Villa's miserable season is almost over and this weekend they go to Watford on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets have achieved their goal of securing top-flight football for next season, but they are also licking their wounds after losing at Wembley last weekend.


Watford

Connor Wickham scores Palace's second goal with a header during the FA Cup semi-final between Watford and Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium on April 24, 2016© AFP

Watford's hugely impressive first half of the campaign means that they were able to go for it in the FA Cup, reaching the semi-finals before going down to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Yannick Bolasie's early goal put Palace in front before Watford hit back through captain Troy Deeney, but the Hornets were level for just five minutes as Connor Wickham's header restored the Eagles' lead and sent them through to a repeat of the 1990 final against Manchester United.

After seeing off defending champions Arsenal away from home in the quarters, it was a disappointing way for Watford to go out and now they will want to end the season on a high after a disappointing 2016 half of the campaign.

The Hornets have won 13 points from their last 17 Premier League matches (W3 D4 L10), compared to a tally of 28 in their first 17 games of 2015-16 (W8 D4 L5).

At home, they are without a win in five league games and this downturn in form has led to speculation over the long-term future of manager Quique Flores.

The Spaniard has confirmed that there is an exit clause in his contract this summer and further fuel was added to the fire when Swansea City boss Francesco Guidolin admitted that he has a good relationship with the Pozzo family who own Watford.

After Odion Ighalo (14) and Troy Deeney (9), 'own goals' is Watford's third top goalscorer in the Premier League this season (3). One of those was Alan Hutton's in the reverse fixture.

Top-scorer Ighalo, whose father passed away shortly after Watford's semi-final defeat, has struggled badly in recent months after bursting onto the Premier League scene in the first half of the year.

The Nigerian has averaged a goal every 1,200 mins in the Premier League since the turn of the year (1 in 1,200 mins), compared to a goal every 122 mins before January 1 (13 goals in 1,591 mins).

One man who is impressing still for Watford is goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who needs one more clean sheet this season to equal his best-ever tally in the English top flight (12 for Tottenham Hotspur in both 2008-09 and 2009-10).

Recent Premier League form: LLLDWL
Recent form (all competitions): LLDWLL


Villa

Aston Villa players are depressed during the Premier League game against Southampton on April 23, 2016© Getty Images

The Villans are going down with not even a whimper. They enter this match on a 10-game losing streak now 14 points adrift at the foot of the table.

Last weekend they managed two goals for the first time in 11 matches, but they were still resoundingly beaten as Southampton put four past them at home.

Caretaker boss Eric Black praised the club's supporters but protests were yet again evident against the club's owners.

Former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson remains the odds-on favourite to take up the manager's job full time this summer, but Ian Holloway has said that the Birmingham-based club should consider wily Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy.

It has been a year to forget for Gabriel Agbonlahor as much as anyone else, and the striker this week decided to relinquish the captaincy after a tumultuous year on and off the pitch.

Away from Villa Park, the Villans have failed to score in five of their last six matches.

Recent form: LLLLLL


Team News

Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring Watford's second against Liverpool on December 20, 2015© AFP

With just one real injury concern out of the cup defeat to Palace last weekend, Etienne Capoue will miss out with a knee injury. Ighalo, however, is expected to play despite the loss of his father.

Mario Suarez and Valon Behrami are in competition to replace Capoue in midfield, though both could be in with a chance of starting.

Ciaran Clark and Kieran Richardson should be back in contention for the visitors, with the former in line to replace Micah Richards, who is nursing a knee injury, at the back.

Rudy Gestede has been used as an impact sub in recent weeks but will hope for a chance to start at Vicarage Road.

Watford possible starting lineup:
Gomes; Nyom, Britos, Cathcart, Ake; Guedioura, Suarez, Watson; Deeney, Jurado; Ighalo

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Clark, Lescott, Cissokho; Sanchez, Gueye, Westwood; Bacuna, Ayew, Sinclair


Head To Head

Watford will be looking to secure two league wins in a single season against Aston Villa for the first time since 1969-70 having won 3-2 at Villa Park in November.

That defeat ended a run of four straight clean sheets against Watford for Villa, whose record in Hertfordshire is not the best.

Watford have lost just one of their previous eight league meetings against Villa at Vicarage Road (W4 D3 L1).


The Dugout Podcast

Hit play below to listen to Sports Mole's new podcast 'The Dugout' for our take on the week's biggest football talking points:



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We say: Watford 2-0 Villa

With desperate Newcastle United and top-four side Arsenal to come, this is probably the visitors' last chance to add to their measly points tally of 16, but there is no reason to believe that they will.



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Ian Holloway of Millwall looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall at Hillsborough Stadium on August 19, 2014
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Monday's key events


ATHLETICS
· There are no Brits in the women's 100m hurdles final, but Puerto Rico's Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, fresh from breaking the Olympic record in the semis, will hope to pip world record holder Kendra Harrison to gold (3.50am)
· The women's 5000m final also has no Team GB representation, but two-time world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be looking to add an Olympic gold to her list of honours (1.40pm)

SAILING
· The women's skiff 49er FX (6.33am) and men's skiff 49er (7.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races

FOOTBALL
· A place in the women's gold medal match is up for grabs, starting with an all-North American semi-final between United States and Canada (9am)
· Australia, who edged past Team GB's in a seven-goal quarter-final thriller, take on Sweden in the second semi-final (12pm)

CYCLING
· The track cycling schedule gets underway, with Team GB holding a particular interest in the team pursuit qualifying. Laura Kenny is part of the women's team (7.54am), while the men's team includes Ed Clancy (9.02am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· The Gadirova twins Jessica and Jennifer will both take part in the women's floor final as they look to add to their team bronze (9.57am)

WEIGHTLIFTING
· Newly-crowned European champion Emily Campbell flies the flag for Great Britain in the women's +87kg, but faces stiff competition for medals from China's Li Wenwen and New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard (11.50am)

HOCKEY
· The women's hockey quarter-finals begin, with Team GB last up against Spain (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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