Brighton & H.A Preview - Home, Jan 29th
THE COMPETITION steps up a level for the Goldeboys as they head into the F.A Cup Fourth Round to take on League One leaders, Brighton and Hove Albion. Gus Poyet`s side are currently top of the League One table by six points and in their 2-0 defeat of Colchester United broke a club record by remaining top of the league for 18 matches.
Appointed on November 10th 2009 former Chelsea and Spurs midfielder Gus Poyet has quickly turned the Seagull`s fortunes around and it looks likely that Albion will begin next season in the Championship and in their new ground at long, long last.
With an influx of shrewd signings made up of little known players and bigger teams cast-offs, Poyet has built a strong side at the Withdean; the likes of former Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren, Spanish full-back Inigo Calderon, nomadic winger Elliott Bennett and ex-Pilgrim Ashley Barnes have all settled well with the League One outfit and are playing the best football of their recent careers.
Fellow ex-Spurs man Mauricco Taricco can provide cover when needed as Poyet`s number two is still registered as a player whilst former Bulgaria international and Charlton utility man Radostin Kishishev is also on the books. Throw in a couple of shrewd loan signings in Newcastle`s exciting winger Khazenga Lua Lua and West Brom`s Kiwi forward Chris Wood and the squad looks strong on paper. So far though they`ve backed it up on grass.
Watford Team News: John Eustace and winger Don Cowie are touch-and-go after recent injuries and could both return.
Josh Walker and Andros Townsend are both cup tied so if Don Cowie doesn`t return then either Matty Whicelow or Piero Mingoia will get the nod.
Lee Hodson may come in for Dale Bennett, at fault for at least a couple of goals against Cardiff, if the full back is fit enough following illness. Hodson`s return would mean Aidy Mariappa partnering Martin Taylor once more.
Likely Line-up: Loach; Mariappa (c), Bennett, Taylor, Doyley; Jenkins; Whichelow, McGinn, Buckley; Sordell and Graham.
Form Player - Will Buckley: Arguably in the form of his Vicarage Road career, the former Rochdale winger scored against Cardiff and was at the centre of everything good for the Goldenboys on a disappointing afternoon. His Autumnal rest after a poor showing at Portsmouth seems to have down Bucko the world of good as he`s at his best now down either flank.
Home Form: Watford 4-1 Cardiff City, Watford 3-0 Portsmouth and Watford 4-1 Hartlepool United.
Head2Head Form: Watford 1-1 Brighton & H.A, Brighton & H.A 2-1 Watford (04/05) Watford 1-1 Brighton & H.A and Brighton & H.A 0-1 Watford (05/06).
Brighton Team News: Midfielder Jamie Smith fractured his metatarsal in training recently so will be out for up to eight weeks.
Left-back Jim McNulty has returned to parent club Brighton after a loan spell at Championship strugglers Scunthorpe where he was hampered by injury.
Former MK Dons midfielder Alan Navarro is also sidelined.
Brighton & Hove Albion Line-up Vs. Colchester United: Ankergren; Calderon, Greer (c), El-Abd, Painter; Kishishev, Dicker, Bridcutt, Benett; Murray and Wood.
Star Man - Glenn Murray: The 27 year-old forward moved to the Withdean towards the end of the January Transfer Window in 2008 for a fee of £300,000, the biggest fee Albion had forked out in 25 years.
Murray chalked up an impressive goalscoring record with former clubs Rochdale, Stockport County and Carlisle United. With a further 42 league goals in 83 league starts for the Seagulls Murray has a league career strike rate of 0.49 goals a game, just shy of one in two.
Ex-Hornet - Liam Bridcutt: The young midfielder became Brendan Rodgers` first signing at Vicarage Road when he arrived on a one-month loan from Chelsea under the former gaffer. It became obvious fairly early into his temporary tenure at Vicarage Road that the 22 year-old was a product of the Rodgers` 'pass at all costs` philosophy and only last a further month making four starts and two sub appearances.
Away Form: Huddersfield Town 2-1 Brighton & H.A, Exeter City 1-2 Brighton & H.A and Bournemouth 1-0 Brighton & H.A.
Odds: Watford: 17/21 (William Hill) Draw: 11/4 (William Hill) Brighton: 7/2 (SkyBet)
Referee: Mr E L Ilderton
b>Assistant Referees: Mr C T Breakspear & Mr M McLaughlin
b>Fourth Official: Mr S A Hooper