Leicester City Preview (H) - November 3
WATFORD FACE second-placed Leicester City at Vicarage Road this weekend as they look to arrest a run of form which saw them end October with back-to-back defeats for the first time since the beginning of September.
There have been no such issues for Nigel Pearson`s high-flying Foxes of late, the Midlands outfit currently enjoying a sequence which has seen them lose just two from 10.
Of course, last Saturday yielded only disappointed for the Foxes too; beaten 2-1 at home by the impressive but managerless Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium -a 90th minute strike from Andy King too little too late for the hosts.
Whilst everything certainly looks rosy for Pearson at present, it wasn`t all that long ago that the tabloids were gleefully predicting the former Southampton and Hull City bosses demise. Perhaps unsurprisingly though the 49 year-old remains at the helm however and the decision to bring Pearson back to the club looks like a shrewd one by the club`s Thai owners.
Allowed to leave for Hull two seasons ago, as the club went in a more glamorous direction with Paulo Sousa and then Sven Goran Eriksson, Pearson returned to the east Midlands outfit at the back end of last year and has been quick to demolish his predecessor`s side and build one in his own mould.
Gone are the likes of Jermaine Beckford and a host of big-name loanees and in are lesser-known, undervalued, reliable performers.
Take former Fleetwood Town striker Jamie Vardy. Signed for a fee of £1m from the newly-promoted Football League club, Vardy has hit the ground running at this level and quickly bagged himself four goals from his first nine league and cup games for the Foxes.
An imperious record at non-league level, which saw him plunder 66 in 107 for Stocksbridge Park Steels, 29 in 41 for Halifax and 31 in 36 for the Fishermen was enough to convince Pearson to sign the 25 year-old and allow the more experience Beckford to join Huddersfield Town on-loan.
Another lesser-known player who is quickly earning himself as big reputation is former Stoke City trainee, Ben Marshall.
A nippy winger, Marshall spent the first half of last season on-loan with League One Sheffield Wednesday, earning rave reviews and subsequently a £750k move to the Championship.
Formerly of Manchester United`s youth set-up, the 21 year-old also has two England U21 caps earned this year & turned out for Carlisle United, Cheltenham Town and Northampton Town before moving to the second-tie.
In spite of Pearson`s scouring of the market, bigger names remain at the club still and one of those is the club`s top-scorer, David Nugent.
Now 27 the former Bury, Preston and Portsmouth hitman moved to the King Power Stadium last term and has quickly established himself as first-choice with 20 from 52 league appearances.
Despite a slow start to the current season, the bustling one-cap England international has notched five times already in 10 league appearances, taking him past the 100 career goals mark.
Leicester go into the clash with no fresh injury concerns and are expected to name the same XI that was defeat by Crystal Palace a week ago.
Gianfranco Zola will welcome Daniel Pudil and Nathaniel Chalobah back into the side following suspension but who will start up front remains anyone`s guess after the recent rotation.
John Eustace (back), Neuton (ankle), Nyron Nosworthy and Geoffrey Mujangi Bia are all out.
Watford: Almunia (c); Doyley, Hall, Hoban; Cassetti, Abdi, Hogg, Chalobah, Pudil; Deeney & Forestieri.
Leicester City: Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (c), Whitbread, Konchesky; Dyer, King, Drinkwater, Knockaert; Vardy & Nugent.
Referee: Mr A D`Urso.