Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday December 16 2011
WATFORD TRAVEL to Blackpool on Saturday for a clash with one of the league's most inconsistent sides in the division.
For every 5-0 victory over Leeds, or 2-2 draw at Southampton, there's a 2-2 draw against Coventry or a 3-1 loss to Forest.
Overseeing it all is one of football's favourite personalities, Ian Holloway. The charismatic Bristolian is in his third season in charge at Bloomfield Road having won promotion during his first season with the Tangerines.
Last season nearly proved a dream for Blackpool but in the end the bubble burst and like Reading and Hull before them they were relegated despite putting up a gallant fight.
Holloway has re-built shrewdly throughout the course of the season, compensating for the loss of players such as DJ Campbell, Charlie Adam and David Vaughan - all crucial last season.
No fewer than 13 players arrived permanently with a further two loan deals to recruit Callum McManaman from Wigan Athletic and Jonjo Shelvey from Liverpool. Shelvey in particular was impressive but injury to Lucas Leiva robbed the Tangerines of their creative midfielder.
One man who has proved key so far is former Watford and Sunderland terrace hero, Kevin 'SuperKev' Phillips. The forward was released by Birmingham City at the end of last season. Never one to miss a good opportunity in the transfer market, Holloway snapped the 38 year-old forward up. Phillips has re-paid the manager's faith with seven league goals in just 13 league starts. There have even been a couple of beauties in their from the ageless forward, as well as the usual collection of poachers efforts.
In midfield, former Blackburn, Birmingham and Rangers man Barry Ferguson has quickly proved himself a key man for the Seasiders. The 33 year-old is a keen tackler and an astute passer as well. In a career that has spanned exactly 400 league starts, the former Scotland captain has made just 10 appearances as a substitute.
Another key man in midfield is former Wycombe Wanderers youngster, Matt Phillips. Signed for 500k from the Buckinghamhire-based club, Phillip impressed last year before spending part of this campaign out on loan with Sheffield United. Pacey and direct, Phillip also offers his fair share of goals and assists from the flanks.
Blackpool appear to have no major injury concerns, whilst Watford should name the same side that draw with Leeds at the Vic' last Saturday.
Blackpool: Gilks; Eardley, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey; M.Phillips, Ferguson (c), Basham, Sylvestre; Taylor-Fletcher & McManaman.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Nosworthy, Mariappa (c), Dickinson; Yeates, Buaben, Hogg, Kightly; Sordell & Deeney.
Match Officials: (R) Mr M Haywood; (ARs) Mr B Roberts & Mr G Stott; (4th) Mr B Khatib
Date:Friday December 16 2011
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