Watford have had a difficult start to life back in the Championship, with the Hornets winning two of their first four games, with a draw and loss in the other two. Derby themselves have had a tough start to their season also, with just one win and three losses from their opening four fixtures too.
Friday’s fixture between the pair looks to be hotly contested, with lots of in play betting opportunities to be had and the two sides not having played since 2015 which resulted in a 2-2 draw. Over recent history, however, Derby appears to have come out on top for most fixtures, with three wins and a draw in their last five fixtures against one another. This makes poor reading for Watford fans, but with a squad such as theirs, and Derby’s poor start to this season, the Hornets faithful will certainly be confident of a good result against the Rams.
Here, we’re going to take a look at the important factors of the upcoming game, and take a punt at some predicted XI’s for the match, so without further ado, let’s get into it…
Watford started their previous league game with a 3-5-2 formation against Reading but lost 1-0. I
think that Vladimir Ivić will opt for the same 5-3-2 formation that saw them beat rivals, Luton, after an impressive performance, as well as selecting the same starting XI, with that important front two of Joao Pedro and Ismaila Sarr.
Watford have been short for goals this season, scoring just 2 goals in their first four games – and will be hoping to change this come their game against the Rams.
I can see Phillip Cocu opting for an unchanged XI from their first league win against Norwich thanks to an 87th-minute goal from Wayne Rooney. The club’s first four games have been tough, with their three opening defeats coming with a 4-2-3-1, scoring once and conceding 8 goals.
The Rams will be hoping to continue with winning ways, and an unchanged formation will likely be their best way forward – with their record against Watford in recent years a good one. The club will likely be reliant on the experience and quality of Rooney again, with him scoring the club’s first league goal of the season in the aforementioned game against Norwich during GW4.
Given both sides starts to the season, I can’t see this being the most exciting game of the season, but it will be a highly contested one nonetheless. I see Derby taking the lead early on in the game, likely through Wayne Rooney – but Watford will make a comeback during the second half, with their front two likely to be the pair to break the deadlock for Ivić’s men.
Joao Pedro and Ismaila Sarr will be important for the Hornets this season if they hope to gain promotion back to the Premier League, and I can see the pair enjoying a good game against Cocu’s side, who themselves will be aiming for Premier League promotion this campaign despite their shaky start.
The Northern Ireland international has been a revelation of himself so far this season and has been Watford’s best performer according to WhoScored in the Championship this campaign.
The 31-year-old scored the club’s opening goal of the season in their first league game against Middlesbrough and has been a commanding force in defence for the club so far. From their first four games, they have kept three clean sheets, with Cathcart at the heart of defence each time, with him averaging 3.8 aerial duels won per game and 3.8 clearances per game too.
Be sure to keep an eye on Cathcart, as he will likely be the one to inspire Watford to a win against Derby.
The 34-year-old inspired Derby to their first victory of the season over Norwich and the club will likely be looking towards him this season during their push for promotion.
So far this campaign the Englishman has only scored the one goal and has averaged 2.3 shots per game, but his performances last season helped inspire the club all the way to the playoffs, and I expect the same again this campaign.
If anyone is to make an impact against Watford, it will be Rooney, but overall I can’t see the Rams coming out of this game with the three points.