Friday, 18 January 2008

Have Hornets lost their sting?

Not so long Watford fans were ringing up 606 and asserting that they would do better in the Premiership next time and claiming that the main issue was how and when they strengthened their squad for Premiership football. I always thought that the wheels would come off and they have.

Now they have sold Marlon King to faltering Fulham for £5m, although they have got Collins John in return, a player I always thought had something to offer at Championship level.

Although one wouldn't have said this a few weeks ago, the defensive line up looks predictable: the inspiring Youga, the magical Bougherra, the reborn McCarthy and the stimulating Moutaouakil.

Up front will Pards revert to a 4-5-1? I think he will go for a win with a 4-4-2, but the question is who will start? McLeod's many defenders say that he is a raw talent with much promise, but we have limited time to experiment with a striker who seems to have difficulty finding the net. Varney is less than perfect, but I think that he shows more potential than McLeod. I would start him.

Who should be alongside him? There is a case for Dickson, but I would still go with the much abused Iwelumo so that we can once again see him in partnership with Varney. To the 'what he has done for us?' crowd I would say that he has scored goals, is a serious nuisance to big defenders and hence could create space for Varney to use his pace, and is useful at defending against set pieces where we tend to be suspect.

Midfield is more difficult. Despite a somewhat disappointing performance at The Hawthorns, Zheng Zhi is a must. I would also include the reliable Matt Holland. Ambrose is another much criticised player, but he had a hand in all four goals on Saturday. Thomas has been looking sulky rather than silky, but Sam has also been something of a disappointment, although I think that is in part a confidence problem and a goal would work wonders for him. So I would leave Thomas to brood on the bench.

Irrational exuberance leads me to predict a 2-1 victory for the Addicks, the scorers being Ambrose (assist Sam) and Varney (assist Iwelumo). Don't put any money on it!

Erith's Paul May will be bringing his inimitable match report from Vicarage Road tomorrow.

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