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Preview: Watford vs. Bournemouth

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday afternoon's Premier League match between Watford and Bournemouth at Vicarage Road.

Last season's automatically-promoted duo face off this weekend at Vicarage Road as Watford host Bournemouth in the Premier League.

While Bournemouth are still scrapping near the drop zone, Watford's impressive first season in the top flight means that they sit pretty in the top half with 12 games of the campaign to go.


Watford

Alternative shot: Scott Wootton scores an own goal during the FA Cup game between Watford and Leeds United on February 20, 2016© Getty Images

After winning for just the second time in nine league games against Crystal Palace two weeks ago, Watford then reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in nine years last weekend.

Struggling Championship side Leeds United were the visitors and although the Whites brought a sizeable away following, they did not cause Watford any problems and in the end Scott Wootton's comical own goal was enough to send the Hornets through to the last eight.

Quique Flores urged the club's supporters to start dreaming of a trip to Wembley, but the draw was not kind to the Hertfordshire outfit as they face a trip to holders Arsenal should the Gunners defeat Hull City in their replay next month.

As mentioned, Watford's recent form in the league does not read all that well. The Hornets have lost five of their last nine Premier League games (W2 D2 L5) and failed to score in four of their last six Premier League matches.

One of the main reasons for this is strike duo Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney going off the boil a little; between them the pair have managed only five goals in Watford's last 10 matches.

Flores will hope that they can return to form this weekend and put Watford in front early on as the Hornets have recovered just two points from losing positions this season, the fewest in the top flight.

Recent Premier League form: LLWDLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDLWW


Bournemouth

Eddie Howe has a nose during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Stoke City on February 13, 2016© Getty Images

The Cherries pipped Watford to the Championship title in a dramatic finale last season, but they have been second-best to the Hornets in the big time this term.

Eddie Howe's side come into this match having lost three games in a row, all of which were at home and the last being a 2-0 defeat to Everton in the Cup last weekend.

They might be glad to be on the road then and in the league, Bournemouth have been beaten in just one of their last seven away games (W3 D3 L1) after losing five of their first six Premier League trips.

Last time out in the league, Howe's side were resoundingly beaten 3-1 by a Stoke City side that had lost five in a row.

Heading into the final three months of the season, Bournemouth are 15th in the table, four points above the bottom three and seemingly at the top of the mini, six-team relegation league.

One thing Bournemouth tend to do is start well; the Cherries have scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches than any other team in the top flight (8).

Recent Premier League form: LWDWLL
Recent form (all competitions): DWWLLL


Team News

Jose Manuel Jurado of Watford during the Barclays Premier League match between Watford and West Bromwich Albion at Vicarage Road on August 15, 2015© Getty Images

Watford will be without Jose Manuel Jurado because of a calf injury, so Almen Abdi and Nordin Amrabat will challenge to join Deeney just behind Ighalo in attack.

Aside from that Flores has no new issues, but will have to pick between Mario Suarez and Valon Behrami to start in central midfield.

Howe, meanwhile, must decide whether to give club captain Tommy Elphick his first league start in five months after the centre-back came through 90 minutes against Everton.

If Elphick does return, then it is likely Simon Francis will move back to his favoured right-back slot and demote Adam Smith to the bench.

Lewis Grabban missed Everton's visit in the Cup and the striker is likely to again miss out with a groin strain.

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

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Boruc; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Surman, Gosling, Arter; Ritchie, Stanislas; Afobe


Head To Head

Bournemouth are unbeaten in four against Watford, but three of those matches have finished 1-1, including the reverse in October when Ighalo equalised after Glenn Murray had given the Cherries the lead.

This will be the 100th league meeting between these two teams, with both sides having won 35 of the matches.


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We say: Watford 1-1 Bournemouth

Watford have a strong record at home against teams below them in the table this year, but Bournemouth might just be more hungry on Saturday and could earn a point to take back to the south coast.



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Troy Deeney celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Watford on February 13, 2016
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
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Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
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