Watford vs Portsmouth Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 18 November 2011

Michael Appleton's managerial career begins with a trip to Vicarage Road as his new team take on struggling Watford.

Team News

Liam Lawrence has failed to recover from the ankle injury that prevented him from joining up with the Irish international team so Pompey's new gaffer may go with the same team that were "dominated" by Nottingham Forest a fortnight ago.

Michael Kightly has returned from a hamstring injury for Watford and may be handed a starting place but full back Lloyd Doyley is struggling. Carl Dickinson and Jonathan Hogg will line up against the club they were loaned to last season.

The Match

Once again, pre-match talk will be dominated by issues off the field due to the current situation with one of Vladimir Antonov's banks. However, we're powerless to do anything as fans and so we should be focused on the trip to Vicarage Road.

If the new boss wanted a quick way to win the Pompey fans over, then winning this match will go a long way to doing that as Pompey have a wretched record at the home of the Hornets.

Last season saw Pompey hammered 3-0 on New Year's Day, the match before that saw a humiliating 4-2 defeat to a team that had virtually been relegated from the Premier League and nobody wants to remember another 3-0 humiliation in the Carling Cup quarter-finals back in 2004.

Therefore, it is safe to say that Vicarage Road hasn't been a happy hunting ground for the Blues over the years but now is as good a time as any to change that.

Hopefully, with Appleton's appointment there'll a be a vibrancy around the team as you'd expect when a new manager takes charge for the first time. Watford, on the other hand, have struggled under their own rookie manager in Sean Dyche and have their own problems.

The Hornets currently lie in 21st position in the Championship, three points behind Pompey in 15th. They have struggled to score goals having failed to find the net in eight games whilst their style of play makes Steve Cotterill's playing philosophy look like Barcelona's.

However, Watford still remain a half-decent outfit at home and have won their last two matches against Brighton and Peterborough so this will be no easy task, especially as Chris Iwelumo and Marvin Sordell are a handful for any defence on their day.

Still, if Pompey can't score against a back four that contains the likeable but affable Carl Dickinson which is protected by a mediocre player in Jonathan Hogg, then Appleton's men will deserve to be beaten.

I don't think that will be the case, however. Despite the Antonov news and our terrible record at Vicarage Road I am optimistic we can get at least a draw from this one.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Watford

GK: Scott LOACH

RB: Lee HODSON

CB: Adrian MARIAPPA

CB: Nyron NOSWORTHY

LB: Carl DICKINSON

RM: Troy DEENEY

CM: Jonathan HOGG

CM: John EUSTACE

LM: Mark YEATES

CF: Marvin SORDELL

CF: Chris IWELUMO

Pompey

GK: Stephen HENDERSON

RB: Greg HALFORD

CB: Jason PEARCE

CB: Ricardo ROCHA

LB: Tal BEN-HAIM

RM: Abdul RAZAK

CM: Hayden MULLINS

CM: David NORRIS

LM: Erik HUSEKLEPP

CF: Dave KITSON

CF: Luke VARNEY

Last Time: Watford 3 Portsmouth 0 (Championship - 01/01/2011)

Pompey fans were given the worst New Year's Day ever as the Hornets ran rampant at Vicarage Road.

Andrew Taylor began the rout with an unstoppable left-foot volley in a poor first half and then Marvin Sordell and Danny Graham both punished Pompey on the break to seal a comfortable win for Malky Mackay's men.

Salt was further rubbed into Pompey wounds when Greg Halford was shown the red card for aggressively shoving his face into Taylor's.

My Predicition

I'm hopeful "new manager effect" overcomes the "bogey ground" effect and Pompey can outplay their struggling counterparts. A first away win since March is probably too much to ask.

Watford 1 Portsmouth 1

Portsmouth Match Reports


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