It will be a clash of the recently relegated teams when Watford host Burnley at the Vicarage Road on Friday the 12th of August in the EFL Championship. The last match between these two teams saw the Clarets defeat the Hornets in April 2022, which was in the Premier League. Coming into this game, Watford drew 1-1 away at West Brom, and Burnley also had a 1-1 draw against Luton Town at home.
Watford had only 31% possession in their previous game against the Baggies. The team’s star man, Sarr, scored an early goal-of-the-season contender when he unleashed one from his half near the halfway line. But he also missed a penalty in the second half, which could have given them the victory.
Burnley generated an xG of only 0.9 in the last match they played against the Hatters. Part of this was because they had only one shot on target out of 11. Despite dominating the ball with 68% possession, they could not make it count.
Let us look at three things one should watch out for when these two teams meet each other.
Watford’s solid defence
Watford restricted West Brom to just one goal despite letting six shots on target as Daniel Bachmann, the Hornets keeper, saved 83.3% of the shots that he faced. Watford contested 62 defensive duels last game and won 40 of those, giving them a success rate of 64.5%. Most of those duels occurred in the defensive third and on the wings as they prevented dangerous balls into the box. It remains to be seen whether they can replicate this against Vincent Kompany’s side.
Along with their defensive duels success, Watford also made several crucial interceptions in their previous match against the Baggies. A good chunk of these came inside their penalty area and several more followed in the defensive third but outside the penalty area. Francisco Sierralta made 11 interceptions last match, so, one can expect him to play an important defensive role in this match as well.
Burnley’s range of passing
With 68% possession in their previous match against Luton Town, Burnley were volume passers, attempting as many as 68 passes into the final third. They completed 56 of those with an accuracy of 82.35%. Right-back Connor Roberts completed 14 passes into the attacking third. So, one can expect him to be the main man to progress the ball into advanced areas for the Clarets. The team also made three smart passes.
There are no injury concerns for the hosts coming into this match. Watford have just signed the Leicester City midfielder, Hamza Choudhury, on a loan deal until the end of the season. He might not start this match straight away but could come on as a substitute. Ismaila Sarr is being linked with a move to Manchester United and may not start the game.
For Burnley, Ashley Westwood, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson and Jay Rodriguez are ruled out due to injuries, and their returns are not yet known. Head coach Vincent Kompany might stick with the same lineup that faced Luton Town. There are no clear favourites for this match, and one can expect to see a close encounter. The match could end in a draw or the winning team might not win by more than one goal.
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