Watford V Middlesbrough Match Preview.
Watford play Middlesbrough tomorrow in the Sky Bet Championship at Vicarage Road with the Hornets looking to keep up their recent good form. The Hornets are 3 unbeaten at the moment thanks to wins over Brighton and Birmingham and a draw with Leicester. Middlesbrough lie in 12th position in the table whilst the Hornets lie in 13th. A win for the Golden Boys tomorrow would see them leapfrog Middlesbrough and would move the Hornets up to 12th position in the table with a game in hand over most of the field. In the match earlier in the season at the Riverside, Daniel Ayala scored a last minute equalizer which saw the Hornets draw 2-2 with 'The Boro' after goals from Troy Deeney and Fernando Forestieri looked set to seal a victory for the Golden Boys.
Middlesbrough are now managed by Spaniard Aitor Karanka who was one of Jose Mourinho's assistants at Real Madrid. Tony Mowbary was sacked earlier on in the season after a dismal 2013 and Karanka was installed. The Spaniard has overseen a steady improvement at the Riverside in his first 16 games in charge with Boro winning Six, drawing five and loosing five. Karanka used his Chelsea connections well in the January Transfer market with Kenneth Omeruo and former Hornet Nathaniel Chalobah joining on loan. On deadline day, Karanka also bought in another former Hornet Danny Graham from Sunderland on loan for the rest of the season as well as Lee Tomlin from Peterborough on loan. Hornets fans know just how good Graham and Chalobah are with Graham scoring 41 goals for the Hornets in two seasons at the club whilst Chalobah was an influential first team member for the Orns last season as they reached the play off final. Graham has probably been one of the best strikers The Hornets have had over the past 10 years with his workman like performances and eagerness to score goals seeing him being adored by Hornets fans during his time at Vicarage Road. Graham joined the Hornets on a free transfer from Carlisle United before the 2009/10 season after Graham rejected several contract offers. He hit the ground running scoring 7 times in pre season and on his debut during the 1-1 draw with Doncaster on the opening day of the season. He went on to score 14 goals in his first season for the Hornets. During the 2010/11 season, Graham finished the championships top scorer with 24 league goals. His good partnership with Marvin Sordell saw the Hornets front man net 27 goals for the season for the Hornets which meant that he attracted interest from Swansea and QPR. He eventually signed for Swansea for £3.5 million. He had a good season and a half at Swansea scoring 21 goals in 62 appearances but was unsettled in his second season as he was in and out of the team. He subsequently joined Sunderland in last seasons January transfer window for £5 million but didn’t score. After being made surplus to requirements, he joined Hull City on loan for the first 6 months of the season, ending his goal drought against his former side Swansea in the league in December. That was to be his one and only goal for Hull who didn’t need him either after signing strikers Shane Long and Jelavic.
Nathaniel Chalobah is also a familiar face to hornets fans after spending last season on loan with the Golden Boys. He scored 5 goals last season for the Hornets one of which was a screamer against Leicester City. He was instrumental in the Hornets quest for promotion and it has shown this season how badly we have missed him. He went back to Chelsea at the end of last season. He is highly rated at Chelsea and he signed a new five year deal in the summer. He was made available for loan at the start of the season. Watford tried their best to get a loan deal done to get Chalobah back but Chelsea wanted the Hornets to pay a high percentage of his £35,000 wages which the Hornets weren’t prepared to do. He subsequently joined Nottingham Forest on loan until January. Chalobah didn’t have such a good experience with Forest and was in an out of the side. He only made 12 appearances and scored twice come January and Forest decided not to extend his loan deal. He then joined Boro in January 2014 and has made 3 appearances to date. With Watford wanting to extend their recent good run of form and with 2 former Hornets returning tomorrow, it looks set to be another interesting match in the Sky Bet Championship.
For Watford, Ikechi Anya and Sambe Diakite should return for the Hornets in time to play against Middlesbrough. Joel Ekstrand is a doubt after going off after 18 minutes in the midweek game against Birmingham. Lewis McGugan, Almen Abdi and Fitz Hall are all unavailable for the Golden Boys.
For Middlesbrough, Mustapha Carayol will undergoe a late fitness test after suffering a slight muscle strain. New signing, Tomas Mejias Osorio could be included in the 18 man squad.
Predicted Team Lineups
Watford - Almunia (GK)(C), Angella, Cassetti, Doyley, Faraoni, Tozser, Merkel, Murray, Anya, Forestieri, Deeney.
Middlesbrough - Given (GK), Varga, Woodgate (C), Gibson, Friend, Ledesma, Leadbitter, Chalobah, Whitehead, Adomah, Graham.
Referee - Oliver Langford