Sunderland vs Watford Match Preview.
(Picture - SAFC)
Watford face the long trek up to the Stadium of Light on Saturday to face Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League, with Quique Sanchez Flores' men looking to register their third victory in as many games.
Back-to-back victories over Aston Villa and Norwich means that the Hornets currently sit in tenth position in the table and a win against the Black Cats on Saturday could see the Golden Boys move up to 6th position,depending on results.
Quique Sanchez Flores' men have a ten-point gap over Sam Allardyce's Sunderland, who lie in 19th position in the table, although the Black Cats have seen an upturn in fortunes since the former West Ham and Blackburn Rovers boss took over in October.
Under Allardyce, Sunderland have won three of their last sixgames in the Premier League, with those victories coming against rivals Newcastle as well as Crystal Palace and Stoke.
The Black Cats were involved in yet another relegation scrap last season, but under the stewardship of Dick Advocaat, they managed to secure their Premier League status for another season with a game to spare.
However, after a dismal start to the season, Advocaat left his position with the club rooted to the bottom after eight games.
But some positivity has been brought back to the North East and after an upturn in fortunes and performances under Allardyce, the club are now just one point off of Norwich in 16th.
The key player tomorrow for the Black Cats will undoubtedly be striker Jermaine Defoe. While the former Tottenham Hotspur striker is getting on a bit now at the age of 33, the threat that he poses cannot be underestimated.
He has seven goals in 13 appearances for Sunderland this season in all competitions and has showcased that he is still one of the most clinical strikers in the division.
Saturday's game is another important fixture for the Golden Boys. With the Hornets facing Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City over the Christmas break, Quique Sanchez Flores' men will be hoping to come away from the Stadium of Light with some points in their back pocket.
With Sunderland enjoying a resurgence under Sam Allardyce, Watford will need to be at the top of their game if they want to return to Hertfordshire with all three points.
For Sunderland, Jermaine Defoe and Wes Brown have recovered from their respective injuries. Steven Fletcher will undergo a late fitness test, whilst Lee Cattermole and Sebastian Larsson will miss out.
For Watford, Quique Sanchez Flores will be without Valon Behrami once again. This weekend's game comes too soon for Sebastian Prodl, whilst Joel Ekstrand and Tommie Hoban are still out.
Sunderland - Pantilimon (GK), Coates, O'Shea ©, Kaboul, Yedlin, Watmore, M'Vila, Rodwell, Van Aanholt, Fletcher, Defoe.
Watford - Gomes (GK), Nyom, Cathcart, Britos, Ake, Capoue, Watson, Anya, Deeney ©, Jurado, Ighalo.
Referee - Graham Scott.