Swansea Preview - Home, March 9th
It`s all back to the comforts of Vicarage Road this week for the first of three games in seven days. First up it`s a tricky tie with Paolo Sousa`s high-flying Swansea City. After a slow start, which included a point against the Hornet`s Sousa`s side are cemented comfortably in the Play Off`s with a six point gap separating them in 4th and Blackpool in 7th. Watford on the other hand are looking to prevent themselves being sucked into the relegation mire as they sit a precarious 17th, a mere two points above the drop zone.
The biggest problem for the Swans this season has been a failure to score enough goals - just thirty all season. Recognising his side`s goal scoring problems, Sousa moved to strengthen in January by bringing veteran Finnish cap, Shefki Kuqi back to England. The former Stockport County, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Blackburn Rover and Crystal Palace forward only left in the Summer to return to his homeland with Koblenz however Sousa tempted him back in January on a free and has been rewarded for his faith in the 34 year-old with 2 goals in 5 starts in South Wales.
Rivalling Kuqi for a place up top is powerful former Celtic forward, Craig Beattie. Brought South in 2007 by former West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Mowbray, Beattie struggled to command a regular first-team berth at the Hawthorns and has had loan spells at both Preston North End and Crystal Palace before signing permanently for a seven-figure sum this Summer. Three goals in ten league starts represents a frustrating start to life at the Liberty Stadium, but Paolo Sousa`s system only fits one out-and-out striker with a smaller man buzzing in behind the target man.
Former Sheffield United and Southampton winger Nathan Dyer, is likely to be that man. Having found a permanent home at last after a nomadic existence of late the diminutive winger is quite adept at playing behind a front man with his pace a real asset. Signed on loan initially after a similar spell spent at Kevin Blackwell`s Sheffield United, Dyer penned a 400k move from the South Coast in January 2009 but has since then only managed the one league strike in twenty-eight starts for the club.
Legendary forward Lee Trundle is currently on loan with Swansea having spent a few frustrating years at Ashton Gate under Gary Johnson. At one point the 33 year old was the very definition of a YouTube footballer, glamourised for his tricks and flicks, now in his twilight years the former Wrexham, Rhyl, Southport and Stalybridge winger-cum-forward has scored an impressive 5 goals in 2 starts since returning on loan for a second spell. His first period at the club brought 78 striker in 135 league starts as the Swans rose out of the lower reaches of the Football League.
However, for what Sousa`s side lack in strike power they make up for in defensive strength.
Only nine league goals have been shipped at home this campaign, and just five more than that on the road. Central to Swansea`s success at the back has been a settled backline, the likes of Wales cap Ashley Williams, stalwart centre-half/right back Gary Monk and former Manchester United prospect, Alan Tate. Federico Bessone and Angel Rangel add some continental flair to the Swans backline having signed from sunny Spain from Espanyol and Terrassa respectively to play in the full back positions.
One man Sousa will be without is midfielder Ferrie Bodde. The highly- rated Dutchman his been injured on/off for around a year now with knee ligament trouble and was subbed off 32 minutes into his comeback against Peterborough. Watford will be without the services of Tom Cleverley once again as he serves the final match of his three game ban, otherwise it seems unlikely there will be any changes for the Golden Boys.
Likely Watford XI
Mariappa Taylor DeMerit (c) Doyley
Cowie Lansbury Eustace Harley
Likely Swansea XI
Rangel Monk (c) Williams Bessone
Cotterill Pratley Gower Van Der Gun