Cardiff City Preview - Away, Jan 22nd
IF WATFORD are truly to upset the established order of the N.Power Championship this season, then it`s clashes such as this, at Cardiff City, that they will need to win in order to secure a shot at a shock return to the Premier League.
Having disposed of Dave Jones` high-fliers at the Vic` on December 28th, Watford have a quick shot at completing the double over Jones` expensively assembled Bluebirds as they head to the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.
Currently on a run of seven straight victories in league and cup Malky Mackay`s men are taking the Championship by storm whilst Jones` side are faltering after their usual 'runaway steam train` start.
The combined talents of on-loan Welsh forward Craig Bellamy, Nigerian cap Seyi George Olofinjana, midfield dynamo Jason Koumas and Manchester United prospect, Danny Drinkwater have been unable to halt the Bluebird`s slide which has seen them slip to third.
Cardiff City Team News: Craig Bellamy is available for selection despite his current on-going legal obligations following his recent arrest and will most likely be partnered up top by Cardiff`s only January signing, Jon Parkin.
Parkin leads the line for the Welsh side in the absence of striker Jay Bothroyd, currently sidelined, believed to be a target for the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, according to the tabloid press.
Midfielder Stephen McPhail tore his hamstring against Stoke City in the F.A Cup defeat so misses out.
STOP PRESS: CARDIFF HAVE SIGNED ARSENAL`S VERSATLE DEFENDER-CUM-MIDFIELDER-CUM-FORWARD JAY EMMANUEL THOMAS ON LOAN IN TIME TO FEATURE ON SATURDAY.
Line-up Vs. Stoke City (FA Cup): Heaton; Blake, Hudson (c), Gyepes, Naylor; Drinkwater, Rae, McPhail, Burke; Chopra and Keogh.
Form Player: Jon Parkin - 'The Beast`, as he was affectionately named at previous clubs Hull and Preston recently signed for the Bluebirds to boost their promotion push whilst top-scorer and vice-captain Jay Bothroyd was sidelined. The truth of the matter is that with Bothroyd out of contract at the end of the current campaign Parkin may well find himself the heir apparent to the former Arsenal, Perugia, Coventry, Wolves, Charlton and Blackburn forward.
Powerful in the air and boasting a decent scoring record at Championship level for a targetman Parkin started his career in non-league football before progressing to Hull City via Macclesfield. The 30 year-old is also capable of filling in at centre-half.
Home Form: Cardiff City 2-0 Coventry City, Cardiff City 2-1 Leeds United and Cardiff City 0-2 Stoke City (AET) F.A Cup.
Head2Head Form:Cardiff City 2-1 Watford, Watford 0-4 Cardiff City, Cardiff City 3-1 Watford and Watford 4-1 Cardiff City.
Watford Team News: The Hornets were able to call upon the services of both Don Cowie and Stephen McGinn for their home clash with Derby County so Malky Mackay should have the luxury of leaving his starting eleven unchanged for this clash.
Skipper John Eustace once again is sidelined; a calf problem sustained in the second-half against Portsmouth on New Year`s Day forces the 31 year-old out. Ross Jenkins will retain his place.
Academy graduate Lee Hodson is fit for the bench.
STOP PRESS: WATFORD HAVE SIGNED SPURS` YOUNG WINGER-CUM-STRIKER ANDROS TOWNSEND ON LOAN FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON IN TIME TO BE INVOLVED AT CARDIFF.
Likely Line-up: Loach; Mariappa (c), Bennett, Taylor, Doyley; Jenkins; Cowie, McGinn, Buckley; Sordell and Graham.
Form Player: Danny Graham - Super Dan cannot stop finding the back of the net for the Hornet`s and recently grabbed league goal number 15 of a fruitful campaign, making him the first Hornet since 1929 to score in seven games in a row.
The Middlesbrough academy graduate is partnered by former Fulham scholar Marvin Sordell, who also netted in the Derby rout to continue his own hot streak of five in five.
The duo have scored 26 of the Hornet`s 50 league goals this season.
Away Form: Burnley 3-2 Watford, Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Watford and Scunthorpe United 1-2 Watford.
Referee: Mr S J Tanner; Mr S J Martin and Mr M Pottage; Mr R Huxtable (4th).
Odds: 11/4 (SportingBet) Watford, 11/10 (Bet365) Cardiff and X
5/2 (Victor Chandler) Draw.